Lugar has confidence in Obama; Coats sees 'defining moment'
Wednesday, September 10, 2014 11:46 AM
By BRIAN A. HOWEY
INDIANAPOLIS – Former Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Richard Lugar expects President Obama to outline a response to the terror group ISIS tonight, but said that his “strategy is not likely to be complete,” while U.S. Sen. Dan Coats said that the commander in chief faces a "defining moment."
Appearing on Bloomberg News “Market Makers” Wednesday morning, Lugar also responded to questions on whether he trusts President Obama. “I have not lost confidence in the president,” Lugar responded. “He has moved ahead in many ways that have been successful. The president made a good start yesterday with the two leaders in the House and Senate. He had a meal with a distinguished group with foreign policy specialists. The president will have to reach out more extensively to the members of Congress.”
Lugar’s remarks came hours before President Obama will address the nation at 9 tonight. He is expected to announce airstrikes against ISIS in Syria, as well as military support for moderate rebels in Syria who have been waging a civil war against President Assad and ISIS.
The grisly beheadings of American hostage journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley sparked outrage from Obama and much of the American public. A Washington Post-ABC News poll released on Tuesday revealed that 71% support airstrikes, up from 54% in August and 45% in June. The poll shows 69% view ISIS as a “very serious threat” and 31% a “somewhat serious threat.” And an NBC News/Wall Street Journal Poll released this morning showed 61% back a confrontation with ISIS while fears of a domestic terror attack are soaring, with 47% saying they feel less safe than before Sept. 11, 2001.
The president has "a country and an electorate, regardless of party, who seem to be ready to take the next step," said Fred Yang, a Democratic pollster who conducted the survey with GOP pollster Bill McInturff, told NBC News. That could give Mr. Obama a chance to reassert himself as a leader, the pollsters said. "The president seems to be controlled by events and not leading events," said McInturff. But with the public so ready to take military action against ISIS, "it might allow him to perhaps use September and October to be a more strongly perceived figure than he's been."
U.S. Sen. Dan Coats told CNN that Obama faces a “defining moment” (see the interview below at HPI Video Feed). “I hope he will define clearly what his goal and strategy is and pull a coalition together,” said Coats, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee. “We need to bring moderate Muslim nations in with us. Their culture [is at stake] because we’re looking at barbarism we haven’t seen in our lifetime.”
Lugar said he expects “air strikes are going to occur on the Syrian side of ISIL.” Lugar, the Indiana Republican who was defeated in the 2012 Republican primary, added that it is important for the Iraq government to come together and that Sunnis in the region “come together with the new government in Iraq. “The president will somehow have to outline all of this and this will take some time.” Lugar said that the two aforementioned polls show that the American public “strongly support airstrikes.”
Lugar said President Obama “will eventually need a Congressional vote of support,” noting that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell “would like to have the vote now” while Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid “does not want to have a vote. Lugar said that Democratic “leadership doesn’t want to subject members of a vote of this variety” but added, “At the same time, members want the vote.”
Lugar called confronting ISIS “the most important issue facing Congress” and said that it will “require every bit of confidence. This is going to be a reasonably costly endeavor.”
In the NBC/WSJ Poll, Obama’s overall approval rating stood at a dismal 40% and on foreign policy at 32%.
As for confidence in Obama, Lugar said, “We’re at a point where the president is speaking about the security of the country. There will be more confidence in the world with American authority.”