Georgia’s Republican congressmen rallied around President Donald Trump in the hours after he launched missile strikes Thursday evening at an airfield in Syria.
Trump’s response to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons attack earlier this week was also quick to ignite a debate among the special election candidates in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District.
U.S. Sen. David Perdue said Assad was a “tyrant” and that his chemical weapons attacks “will not be tolerated.” U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Cassville, said using chemical weapons “is an evil and unconscionable act which warrants international response.”
U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson also said he supported Trump’s move, saying it “sends a clear signal to the world that war crimes such as these will not be tolerated.”
Perdue was quick to take a swipe at former President Barack Obama for not taking action sooner.
“After six years of inaction by the Obama administration, I am glad to see that President Trump is willing to stand up for these innocent victims and stop those responsible for this violence,” he said.
Obama considered and then rejected a similar strike in 2013 after declaring earlier that the use of chemical weapons was a “red line.”
Many Republicans at the time opposed a more forceful intervention in the growing civil war. Isakson had initially backed military action but later said he would vote against a resolution authorizing a U.S. military strike in Syria.
Thursday’s news quickly became fodder in the 6th District race.
Republican Karen Handel, a leading contender to represent the suburban Atlanta district, said late Thursday that Trump showed “real leadership” with his decision. And she blasted Democrat Jon Ossoff, the race’s front-runner and a former congressional aide who touts his national security credentials, for not immediately commenting on the strike.
“Nothing but crickets from ‘National Security Expert’ Ossoff thus far,” she said in a tweet. “What say you Jon? Do you stand with Obama or Trump?”
On Friday morning, Ossoff said in a statement that he backed a “swift punitive strike on Syrian military targets” so long as intelligence officials were certain that Assad used chemical weapons against civilians.
Other Republican candidates in the April 18 special election, including Bob Gray and Dan Moody, also commended Trump’s decision.