There are few signs that Syria will be a major issue in the midterm congressional elections — it splits both parties along such jagged lines that at this point it’s hard to know how it will play nationally.
But at the state level, it’s already leading to some unusual and remarkable messaging.
In Georgia, a Republican Senate candidate, Karen Handel, is up with a radio ad blasting a Democratic Senate candidate, Michelle Nunn, for wanting to support military action in Syria. That’s a Republican, running in a red state, accusing a Democrat of being too eager to use American military might.
“Michelle Nunn said she would vote for direct American military intervention, even with no imminent threat to our national security,” Handel says in the ad. “But President Obama has failed to make the case. His foreign policy is a disaster. On Syria, the president is virtually incoherent, lacking consistency and failing to articulate clear goals.”
It’s early for an ad like this. The primary — and it will be crowded on the Republican side — for the open seat of the retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., is eight months away.
And Chambliss, it’s worth noting, beat a Democratic incumbent in 2002 with one of the more controversial national-security-themed ads of all time. That ad, which famously used pictures of Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden to make its point, questioned Democratic Sen. Max Cleland’s “courage to lead,” suggesting that he was opposing President Bush’s efforts to keep the nation safe. (Cleland, who succeeded Michelle Nunn’s father, Sam, in the Senate, lost both legs and one arm in Vietnam.)
Eleven years after that ad ran, a Republican is running to replace Chambliss by accusing a Democrat of being too eager to go to war.