Most of the Republican lawmakers who have been testing the waters of the 2016 presidential race are treading lightly around the issue of whether to authorize a U.S. military strike against Syria.
The one exception may be Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who has emerged as a vocal opponents of military intervention as he leads an increasingly isolationist group of conservatives who say the U.S. can't afford to police the world.
Obama said military action is necessary retaliation against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime for killing hundreds of its own citizens with chemical weapons. He's asked Congress to authorize that attack, but many lawmakers have been slow to commit one way or the other.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a hawkish, vocal critic of Assad, said the U.S. “has significant national security interests at stake in the conflict in Syria,” and he harshly criticized President Obama for not addressing the problem earlier.
But Rubio isn't taking a stand yet, though he questioned whether Obama sought congressional authorization for a strike only after backing himself into a corner over Syria.
“Military action, taken simply to save face, is not a wise use of force,” Rubio said.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is another member of the libertarian-leaning faction of conservatives, but said only that he was pleased that Obama is seeking congressional approval rather than launching the attack on his own, as the president has threatened.
Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the GOP vice presidential pick in 2012, said he hasn't made a decision either on the use of force.
“The president … needs to clearly demonstrate that the use of force would strengthen America's security,” Paul said. “I want to hear his case to Congress and to the American people.”
HOLLYWOOD CASH TO HELP GRIMES AGAINST MCCONNELL
Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes is getting help from Hollywood in her effort to oust Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky.
Jeffrey Katzenberg, the DreamWorks mogul who has become the Democratic Party's top fundraiser in Hollywood, is making the race to replace McConnell his top priority in the 2014 election cycle, the Hollywood Reporter reported.
Katzenberg wrote to fellow Democrats recently urging them to turn out to meet Grimes during her two-day fundraising tour of Los Angeles on Sept. 25 and 26.
“Alison is the antidote to McConnell and all he represents,” Katzenberg wrote, according to a copy obtained by the Hollywood Reporter. “She can win, and she will win if she gets the support she needs.”
CHRISTIE SKIPS PAUL TO PARTY WITH WIFE
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie appeared to fuel his feud with Sen. Rand Paul when the governor announced that he would be skipping Paul's upcoming visit to the state to campaign for Steve Lonegan, the Republican candidate in next month's special U.S. Senate election.
Christie said no slight was intended to the Kentucky Republican who has become Christie's ideological sparring partner.
The problem, Christie said, is that he's got a scheduling problem that week. He's going on vacation with his wife to celebrate her 50th birthday.
“In a choice between Mary Pat Christie and Rand Paul,” Christie said, “it's no choice for me, so I'll be with Mary Pat.