Under the Dome

Dome: Berger, Hagan spar on Syria

rchristensen@newsobserver.comSeptember 10, 2013 

State Senate leader Phil Berger on Tuesday urged U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan to break with President Barack Obama and take a stand against the president’s plan to intervene in Syria.

Berger, a Republican who is considering challenging Hagan, a Democrat, criticized Hagan’s support for an airstrike.

“We know Kay Hagan has blindly followed President Obama’s lead at nearly every turn of her disappointing U.S. Senate career, but by doing so now she is putting members of our armed forces at risk and further damaging America’s reputation around the world,” Berger said.

“I oppose President Obama’s call for intervention because it’s a blank check designed to help the president salvage his waning credibility,” Berger said. “Kay Hagan should think for herself and for the people of North Carolina.”

Berger’s comments came after Hagan issued a statement saying she’d vote in favor of a resolution that would authorize the use of force against military targets in Syria.

“It is shocking and deplorable that Syria would use chemical weapons on its own people, including hundreds of innocent children who were murdered in their sleep,” Hagan said. “While I do not support putting American troops on the ground, this kind of heinous action cannot occur without serious consequences.”

Responding to Berger, Sadie Weiner, Hagan’s communications director said: “Sen. Hagan has received classified briefings and met with the defense secretary and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and after seeing the evidence that Assad gassed his own people, including hundreds of innocent children, she joined a bipartisan group of senators – including her North Carolina colleague Richard Burr – in supporting a targeted military strike without boots on the ground.

“Issues, especially those of national security, have never been about politics for Sen. Hagan, and Phil Berger needs to learn when to stop playing political games.”

GOP field unknown

If Berger does decide to run for the U.S. Senate, he’ll need to work on name recognition.

In a poll of state GOP voters, 57 percent said they had never heard of him. House Speaker Thom Tillis, who has already said he would run, has a similar identity problem: 54 percent had never heard of him.

Both men’s favorability ratings also had room for improvement. Berger’s favorable rating is 10 percent and his unfavorable rating is 33 percent. For Tillis, 14 percent have a favorable opinion, 32 percent unfavorable.

Still, the survey by Public Policy Polling, a Democratic leaning firm based in Raleigh, shows Berger has the support of 13 percent, followed by Tillis with 12 percent, and former U.S. Ambassador Jim Cain with 11 percent. Other candidates or potential candidates include Heather Grant (8 percent), Mark Harris (7 percent) Greg Brannon (6 percent) and Lynn Wheeler (6 percent).

The poll of 600 likely voters was taken Sept. 6-9. The margin of error was 4 percentage points overall and for the GOP subset was 5.6 percentage points.

Send Congress to Syria

In that same poll, more than half of North Carolina residents said they are for deploying Americans to Syria, but only certain Americans – all 535 members of Congress, according to a new poll.

Fifty-one percent support deploying members of Congress to Syria, while 31 percent oppose, and 18 percent are not certain.

While some of the younger members of the delegation may be in shape for deployment, such as Rep. Richard Hudson, Dome is isn’t sure about the rest.

Staff writer Rob Christensen

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