As congress debates whether or not to take military action against Syria, President Barack Obama learned on Thursday that he can’t count on US Rep. Michael Grimm’s vote.
Grimm, a US marine veteran who served during the first Gulf War 20 years ago, announced on Sept. 5 that he had reversed his position on the idea of hitting Syria with missiles.
Grimm (R-C-Bay Ridge-Dyker Heights-Staten Island) said he had originally supported military action, but that now he is opposed to the idea.
“When President Obama announced his plans to strike Syria in response to the discovery that the Assad regime used chemical weapons to kill thousands of men, women and children; my initial reaction, as a Marine combat veteran, was to stand by the Commander in Chief and support immediate, targeted strikes. I believed that the reputation and credibility of the United States was on the line and that we had to send a strong message that the use of chemical weapons is reprehensible and will not be tolerated,” Grimm said.
“Unfortunately, the time to act was then and the moment to show our strength has passed. As debate has dragged on in Congress, the president has weakened his position as our leader and deteriorated our credibility on the world stage,” Grimm said.
“Now that the Assad regime has seen our playbook and has been given enough time to prepare and safeguard potential targets, I do not feel that we have enough to gain as a nation by moving forward with this attack on our own,” the congressman said.
Grimm added that he has also heard from war-weary constituents in his district who are adamantly opposed to the idea of the US taking military action in Syria and that their views also helped inform his change of heart.
But Grimm’s change of position has opened him up to criticism from Democrats.
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) issued a “flip-flop alert” statement later that same day, charging that Grimm can’t be trusted to make major decisions.
Grimm struggled to explain his change of position in a CNN interview, the DCCC said.
“Once again, Congressman Michael Grimm has reminded voters that you can’t trust anything he says – especially on these most critical issues” said Marc Brumer of the DCCC.
“Seventy-two hours ago, it was critically important to our national security that he support President Obama and now he’s just another flip flopper who voters can’t believe or trust. Congressman Michael Grimm has given new meaning to the idea that he would have voted for it before he voted against it,” Brumer said.
The DCCC announced earlier this year that it is targeting Grimm as a “vulnerable” Republican in the congressional 2014 election. City Councilman Domenic Recchia (D-Coney Island-Gravesend-Bensonhurst) has announced that he intends to run against Grimm next year.