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POLITICS: PennAve

Obama's lobbying organization: We will not engage in Syria debate

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The director of President Obama's political arm, Organizing for Action, confirmed to supporters that the group will not lobby on the president's behalf in the debate over whether the U.S. should strike Syria.

OFA Executive Director Jon Carson acknowledged in a conference call Tuesday that many of the group's volunteers have raised the issue of Syria since Obama over the weekend announced that he would seek congressional authorization for the strike. But OFA, Obama's most potent lobbying apparatus, has decided to sit out the Syria debate, Carson said.

There was speculation that OFA, which has mobilized millions of supporters and volunteers on Obama's behalf on issues ranging from immigration to gun control, wasn't being used to lobby for an intervention in Syria because so many of Obama's liberal supporters object to his taking military action in another Middle Eastern country, as does most of the general public.

But Carson told supporters that the group has "so much going on on other issues" that it can't launch another lobbying campaign for Syria. Besides, he noted, OFA doesn't lobby on every issue the president raises.

"We've certainly heard from all sides of this including people who are just looking for more information on the subject," Carson said, according to a transcript of the call obtained by the Washington Examiner. "What I definitely want you all to know is that OFA supports President Obama and the agenda that Americans voted for on Nov. 6, but we don't always actively organize around every issue, and the debate in Congress over the Syria vote is not one that OFA is planning on organizing around."

Carson raised the topic as part of a weekly call conducted by OFA.

The group, which inherited a formidable network from Obama's re-election campaign, is among the president's most powerful political tools. OFA joined policy debates over Obamacare, climate change, gun control and immigration reform — but has been noticeably silent on the issue of Syria, one of the most significant issues the president has taken on in his second term.

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Rebecca Berg

Political Correspondent
The Washington Examiner