Sen. Mike Johanns says public input made a big difference on Syria, putting pressure on the Obama Administration to make the case that a military strike would be necessary, a case Johanns contends it failed to make.
“Overwhelmingly, the calls were opposed to this and when I say overwhelmingly, I mean 95-to-1, maybe even more than that,” Johanns tells Nebraska reporters during a conference call.
Johanns says that unlike public response to many hot-button issues in Washington, special-interest groups didn’t fuel this one.
“It seemed to spring up without prompting,” Johanns says. “We get a certain number of calls on any item (and) you can tell somebody’s reading from an email or something that they got and so, 500 calls are all identical. They’re just inserting their name. That wasn’t the case here.”
Johanns says the flood of opposition undermined President Barack Obama’s argument that it was in the country’s national security interest to intervene in the Syrian civil war.
“I do think the calls, the letters, the emails definitely had an impact. I think it put a great burden on the administration. I don’t think they met that burden and now off we go into a diplomatic course and we’ll see if that works.”
The Obama Administration is working with Russian officials on a plan for Syria to get rid of its chemical weapons.
AUDIO: Sen. Mike Johanns discusses the role of public reaction in the debate on Syria. [1:45]