Afghanistan Poses a Challenging Issue for 13th Congressional Hopefuls
With the President’s commitment of more troops in Afghanistan, the question arises: how will the GOP handle what is sure to be one of the top issues in the upcoming 2010 elections?
The local GOP has some additional factors to consider. The wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq have been generally unpopular over the course of the past few years here in New York, let alone the rest of the nation. Recent polling shows the country is also split on the issue, while a large number of Americans remain undecided.
Congress will have some important decisions to make as the war takes its course throughout the next two years. As such, whichever candidate ultimately takes the floor to challenge McMahon in the 13th CD must be prepared to address this very critical issue eruditely.
Congressman McMahon released the following statement after the President’s address last week:
“Tonight, President Obama reaffirmed our commitment to complete the mission which began on 9/11. I support our Commander in Chief in his request for 30,000 additional troops to send to Afghanistan. The President has thought long and hard about how to stabilize Afghanistan and Pakistan so we can eliminate terrorist safe havens and stop nuclear weapons from getting into the hands of those who seek to do us harm.
While sending more Americans to war is undoubtedly a serious decision, failing to support our troops who are currently deployed is certainly not the right solution. We owe it to our brave men and women in uniform to provide them with the resources necessary to continue and succeed in their mission. We must stabilize this region that has fanned the flames of radical hostility and extreme terrorist ideology that led to the horrors of September 11th. Afghanistan should never again be a launching pad for terrorist activities.”
Whether McMahon is adopting this approach because of his more Republican-leaning constituency or because of he wants to kiss up to President Obama as a new congressman, I do not know.
All I know is that Mr. McMahon, as a Democrat, might be making a serious error.
Even if people support the war in Afghanistan and this so-called “surge,” that doesn’t mean voters approve of the President’s plan or all aspects of it.
The polling is pretty divided. This is from Rasmussen:
The good news for President Obama is that 53% of voters nationwide support his plan to send another 30,000 troops to Afghanistan. Nearly as many (47%) support his plan to begin withdrawing troops from that war-torn country in 18 months.
But the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that just 20% of voters agree with both parts of the plan.
As a result, the president’s plan as outlined in a nationally televised speech Tuesday night ultimately earns mixed reviews. Thirty-seven percent (37%) say they support the overall plan, while 38% oppose it. Twenty-five percent (25%) are not sure.
Thirty percent (30%) of voters favor the plan to send more troops but oppose the timetable for withdrawal.
Eighteen percent (18%) favor the timetable for withdrawal but not the plan to send more troops.
A majority of Democrats support the president’s overall plan, while a plurality of Republicans and voters not affiliated with either party are opposed. Thirty-five percent (35%) of Democrats support both sending more troops and the establishment of a timetable for withdrawal. Just 12% of unaffiliated voters support both.
While this is New York, it seems things could unravel for the President very quickly, at least in terms of his popularity–and with that, his strategy. That is most especially true in the 13th CD, which has leaned GOP for some time.
Obama has jumped slightly in the polls after his speech, but he remains in the 40’s–a massive drop from his preliminary approval rating of 65%.
It might be wise to start canvassing now (if they haven’t done so already) just how the voters of the 13th CD would like their next congressman to handle this issue. The Brooklyn and Staten Island GOP should be polling, making phone calls or mailings for voter input, and pushing for resources from the National GOP to do so. The views of the voters must be properly gauged.
The same old “they’re for it, we’re against it” approach will not work.
Voters are justifiably worried about Afghanistan, and New York, being one of the most influential states, needs another strong and powerful voice in Congress that will take a stand for a proper war strategy.
No GOP candidate’s website that I see has addressed this issue thoroughly yet. That must change very soon.
I look forward to reviewing and examining the positions of the candidates on this issue, and I hope you will all follow this very important race, as well.
We want to win and get the GOP back on the map in Brooklyn, and the 13th CD is a very good place to start.