NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) - President Obama prepares to make a hard sell for a strike on Syria to Congress and the Nation next week, and two votes he needs are from Virginia lawmakers.
So far, only a third of the House and Senate have participated in classified briefings on the crisis in Syria, but Monday Congress returns from their five-week recess to meet with the President about how the U.S. will respond. Tuesday, the President will address the American public.
Two lawmakers he needs on his side were in Norfolk Friday and spoke with WAVY.com about their position on Syria. Senator Tim Kaine spoke with veterans at Old Dominion University in the morning and left little doubt that he will vote in favor of a military strike on Syria.
"If an atrocity goes unpunished, you buy more atrocities,” Kaine said. “You know, you may be able to delay a day of reckoning, but the day of reckoning will be grimmer and will be more serious."
Senator Kaine said he is confident the President's plan for a limited strike will deter the Assad Regime from ordering another chemical attack.
"I've got a lot of faith in our military. They're going to be able to take action that will let Assad know that there's a cost to using weapons of this kind, and they'll take it in a way that will make him very, very wary about using them again,” Kaine said.
Senator Mark Warner met with men and women at BAE Systems Ship Yard in Norfolk Friday afternoon. The ship repair workers there are, in a very real sense, crew members of the four Norfolk-based ships that will likely deliver the first blow in a military strike on Syria.
"This company here, these men and women made those ships ready from a maintenance perspective to go to sea and deploy successfully,” said Russell Tjepkema, Vice President of Operations at BAE Systms. “We're very proud of that."
But whether Senator Warner will vote for approval of a resolution that will ultimately order the Norfolk-based fleet to open fire is still up in the air.
"I'm hearing from Virginians, probably seven or eight to one against us taking action,” Warner said. “But my belief is representative democracy, is folks in Virginia hired me. I'm going to use my best judgment; I'm going to seek the most information. I have access to information on the intelligence committee that others don't have and make that judgment come next week."
WAVY.com asked Senator Warner if any of the information he and other members of the Senate Intelligence Committee had access to led him to favor military action. He would not say. However, he did say he thinks the Obama Administration has not made the full case to the American public about what would happen if the U.S. does nothing.
With the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last Wednesday, Warner voted in favor of a limited military strike that excludes “boots on the ground.” The measure passed by a vote of 10-7.
But ultimately, Warner said he is reserving his final decision until next week.
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