Should Republicans support military strikes in Syria?

Lawmakers split on whether to approve White House request for military action


This is a rush transcript from "The Five," September 3, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

DANA PERINO, CO-HOST: This is the problem with being inconsistent, unprincipled. One of the questions is what should the Republicans do? Eric mentioned John Boehner.

We have sound to show you, then we're going to take it around the table.


SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE REP. JOHN BOEHNER, R-OHIO: I'm going to support the president's call for action. I believe my colleagues should support this call for action.

REP. PETER KING, R-N.Y.: Don't let the enemy know what our plans are going to be. If anything, it should be wider rather than narrow.

Otherwise why go to this effort if we're just going to fire a few tomahawk missiles.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ.: I've got to see the details. I've got to see what's going to happen. I'm very worried about one of these cosmetic kind of resolutions.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, R-S.C.: The connection between Syria and Iran is clear as a bell. To disconnect these two would be a huge foreign policy national security mistake.

SEN. RAND PAUL, R-KY.: If Congress votes this down, we should not be involved in the Syrian war. And I think it's at least 50/50 whether the House will vote down involvement in the Syrian war.


PERINO: That's actually an interesting thing, and I'm glad we ended on the Rand Paul thought because, Eric, President Obama has maintained that he doesn't have to have congressional approval, and from what I understand, I agree with that. They left it open to say that even if this doesn't pass Congress, President Obama could act anyway. But if Congress doesn't approve it, what do you -- do you think he will do it and just face the consequences?

ERIC BOLLING, CO-HOST: I think when France came out and said only with congressional approval do we go with you, it will hurt his case if Congress says no. That means it's unilateral, Obama goes alone. I think because he did draw the red line, made such a big deal with John Kerry last Friday saying we're going with or without Congress, I think he's going to go. I think he wants to bring Congress along with him, I guess I get to garner public support, but it's not happening.

The people are against this. All of these congressmen and senators are going to go up for re-election, are going to face their constituents and say, hey, we didn't want to go to Syria, especially if this thing blows up, which it will, it will not be a 24, 48-hour event. This is going to have ripple effects.

They're going to have to face constituents, say I know you didn't want to do it, I voted for it anyway, that's going to be a tough go for them.

PERINO: Bob, I am for doing the right thing, supporting the president. I don't want to make this political. But you're here, we have to keep talking.

I want to hear your point of view on the politics of this from the Republican perspective. What would you advise?

BOB BECKEL, CO-HOST: Well, I think the Republicans have been, you know, historically been more willing to act in capacity like this. It is very recent that the isolationist wing of the Republican Party reared its head again, hadn't been around since the Barry Goldwater days. So, I think it is now -- we're beginning to see somewhat of a split in the Republican Party over interventionism overseas.

I think from the Republican standpoint, I think Boehner probably said it right, should probably go along with the president. This is not -- when you ask people in polls should you go to Syria, they think of it like Iraq and Afghanistan. It is not a war. It is intervention. There's a very big difference.

PERINO: What do you think, Andrea, from a politics standpoint? You think it matters?

ANDREA TANTAROS, CO-HOST: Oh, I think this matters. I think this is going to be the most important vote outside of probably ObamaCare. This one, the fault lines are interesting the way people are coming down on this. You have Republicans against the war, Democrats for -- I should say a strike, not a war.

I'm willing to give Boehner a small benefit of the doubt on this because I think the speaker sees Americans' credibility on the line and he doesn't want that desecrated. I don't think any of us do. But I think it is a very critical vote the members have to take and they better think long and hard about this because Israel is not really supporting this. I think they're very nervous about this, Bob.

I think Netanyahu made a statement over the weekend where he said, listen, we can defend ourselves, but they have cautioned the United States into getting themselves into something they're not prepared and committed to finishing.

BECKEL: Just a point, Kerry has unequivocally and in a statement, that they supported this.

What's that?

BOLLING: I don't mean to cut you off, but let's be clear about this. We had this argument yesterday. Paris said we will support what Americans decide to do, but we also want America to entertain all options before making that decision.

GUTFELD: This was Paris Hilton? I had no idea she was interested.

BECKEL: The answer to the question, Dana, House and Senate vote it down, which they will not, it will be a big vote, he will go anyway and he should go. We have moral obligation to do so.

BOLLING: Can I pose a question to you, guys? What if we do go? What if we do do this and we go 24, whatever, 200 Tomahawk missiles in there?

BECKEL: I think it's slightly more than that.

BOLLING: Three hundred -- whatever. And we were out in a couple days and it doesn't do anything, they still have capability. Do we look stronger to the allies or enemies or do we look weaker? I think we look weaker.

BECKEL: If you remember, we did Bosnia without putting boots on the ground by degrading their infrastructure. I think that's exactly what they've got in mind here.

GREG GUTFELD, CO-HOST: What did that do?

BECKEL: Bosnia lost and they came to the peace table.

PERINO: There were troops, I mean, there were United Nations.

BECKEL: Yes, United States, correct.

TANTAROS: Also, Dana, can I say quickly, the way the administration handled Syria from the start is just mindboggling. I mean, John Kerry had a cozy dinner with his wife sitting behind him now, which is also very strange, had a cozy dinner with the Assads. Of course, Vogue glamorized them. Anna Wintour, Obama's friend, glamorized them. Hillary Clinton called Assad a reformer.

Now, Kerry is telling us he is Hitler, 2.0, pretty strong words on Friday. So, they have again not calculated this well.

PERINO: Kind of weird, Greg, if you had gone to dinner with somebody, then a year later find out you're basically accusing them of gassing their own people.

GUTFELD: Yes. It was a difficult thing. As you know, I lived with Gadhafi for a couple years in the '90s, didn't work out too well. bringing home goats.

Why don't they do -- you know what they should do? Send Dennis Rodman. He is available and willing to talk to these people. Before we commit to sending missiles, let's send Dennis Rodman. I would like to see that happen.

BOLLING: The C-block.

GUTFELD: Yes, I figure since we're not talking about Dennis Rodman, I am going to talk about him anyway. He is Jimmy Carter with a nipple ring.

TANTAROS: That's a really sick visual.

PERINO: That is --

GUTFELD: He's Harry Kissinger with a tongue stud.

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