Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) dispatched a fundraising plea touting his opposition to military action in Syria just minutes after President Obama delivered remarks about the conflict from the White House on Tuesday.
The letter, addressed from campaign manager Jesse Benton, opened with the claim that McConnell “does not politicize issues of national security” but went on to argue that the senator’s “comprehensive rationale for why he simply could not support President Obama’s authorization for use of force in Syria” is “a ringing example of why we need to keep Mitch fighting for us in the United States Senate.” “Anything that you can contribute will go a long way towards our goal,” it said:
Charly Norton, spokeswoman for Democratic candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes, immediately condemned the pitch, calling it “outrageous and shameful.” “It is politics at its worst. Senator McConnell is exploiting the tragedy in Syria for his own political gain. It took him weeks to tell Kentuckians where he stood, yet only seconds to fundraise off of this humanitarian crisis.”
McConnell didn’t announce his position on Syria until Tuesday morning, becoming the last Congressional leader to weigh in on the matter. ”A vital national security risk is clearly not at play, there are just too many unanswered questions about our long-term strategy in Syria, including the fact that this proposal is utterly detached from a wider strategy to end the civil war there, and on the specific question of deterring the use of chemical weapons, the president’s proposal appears to be based on a contradiction,” he said on the floor.
McConnell is one of the few senate Republicans facing a tough re-election campaign in 2014 and is running against a primary challenger — Tea Party candidate Matt Blevin — who also opposes intervention in Syria. The senator has courted and won the endorsement of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), a leading critic of the administration’s Syria strategy.
Last week, Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) also faced criticism for soliciting donations based on his decision to change his position from supporting military strikes to opposing them, though his press secretary insisted that the message was sent in error.