Politics & Policy

The Phone Lines Melt

And inboxes are inundated, as people urge their congressmen to oppose military action in Syria.

The phones are ringing off the hook in Congress — and virtually no one is calling in to support military intervention in Syria.

At the office of Representative Chris Gibson (R., N.Y.), who represents a swing district, the number of phone calls and e-mails from constituents regarding military action in Syria has “far exceeded the normal volume,” says Gibson aide Stephanie Valle.

In recent days, Gibson’s office has received “about 850 e-mails on it, and out of those, 840 are opposed to military intervention,” Valle adds.

Gibson opted to go further. Instead of simply waiting for constituents to contact him, his office e-mailed to their list a survey regarding Syria. Of the 5,400 who responded, 85 percent agreed with Gibson: It would be a mistake for the United States to take military action there.

Gibson is hardly alone. Aides to GOP House members consistently say that overwhelmingly the calls and e-mails that their offices are receiving about Syria are against taking any military action there. Many Republicans have heard from no more than a handful of constituents supporting intervention. Several staffers, echoing Valle’s observation, say that, of the hundreds of calls and e-mails they’ve received about Syria, those in support of military intervention can be counted on the fingers of both hands.

Dan Kotman, communications director for Representative Michele Bachmann (R., Minn.), says that Bachmann’s office “has been inundated with phone calls, e-mails, and letters about the situation in Syria.”

“The feedback has been virtually unanimous in opposition to military intervention, a position Rep. Bachmann shares,” Kotman explains. “The total breakdown so far is 641–4 against intervention.”

Representative Justin Amash (R., Mich.) has done a dozen town halls this week. According to his office, he has talked to approximately 600 constituents about Syria and only a “handful” support military intervention.

An aide to Representative Jim Jordan (R., Ohio) e-mails that, as of Thursday, “We have had a little over 800 contacts to our DC and district offices, with about 90 percent being against intervention.”

Representative Paul Broun (R., Ga.) is finding that his constituents, too, disapprove of taking military action. “Over 560 constituents have contacted Broun by phone and e-mail this week and only two of them support military action in Syria,” an aide says. Representative Matt Salmon (R., Ariz.) told my colleague Jonathan Strong yesterday that of the 500 calls his office had received, only two had been in support of intervening.

It’s the same story for member after member of the House Republican caucus, who represent an ideologically diverse range of regions. “We have been receiving a number of either calls or e-mails from our constituents, and overwhelmingly they are leaning against action,” says an aide to Representative Mario Diaz-Balart (R., Fla.) “The vast majority” of constituents contacting Representative Trey Gowdy (R., S.C.) oppose intervention, according to his office.

At the office of Representative Scott Rigell (R., Va.), who authored the letter calling on President Obama to seek congressional authorization before taking any action in Syria, almost all calls and e-mails are opposed to the resolution. His office estimates that about one of every 50 e-mails and one of every 30 phone calls is supportive. An aide to Representative David Schweikert (R., Ariz.) reports that constituents’ calls and e-mails are “nearly unanimous” against military action,” while an aide to Representative Jeff Duncan (R., S.C.) estimates that 98 percent of constituents contacting his office have opposed intervention.

Nor is the nearly unanimous pressure not to authorize war in Syria confined to the House. Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.) told reporters in a conference call on Tuesday that “at least” 90 percent of the calls his office had received about Syria were against taking action.

In the House, both the Democratic and the GOP leadership have announced support for the resolution authorizing President Obama to take military action in Syria. But as these numbers show, GOP House members are being urged by their constituents to take a different course.

— Katrina Trinko is an NRO reporter.

Katrina TrinkoKatrina Trinko is a political reporter for National Review. Trinko is also a member of USA TODAY’S Board of Contributors, and her work has been published in various media outlets ...


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