Why Reps. Gosar, DeSantis are against a Syrian strike

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," September 5, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Tonight, let's begin in D.C. where battle lines are beginning to be drawn over whether or not to attack the Assad regime. And while Congress will not consider a formal use of foce resolution until next week, White House aides are already reportedly worried they do not have the votes to pass the measure, particularly in the House of Representatives.

But if it fails, the State Department is now suggesting the President may go it alone. Let's take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Obviously, the president has the authority to act without the cooperation of Congress, but the president and the secretary strongly agreed that when the administration and the people's representative stand together, that that strengthens our case and makes our case even stronger internationally.


HANNITY: Now, while the administration threatens to act unilaterally, President Obama's counterpart in Moscow is issuing a bold warning of his own. Just hours before, going face to face with Obama, the G20 summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that he intends to supply Syria with a missile shield if the U.S. carries out an attack without the support of the U.N.

Now, that is not the only controversial statement that Putin has made in the past 24 hours. He's also gone on record calling Secretary of State John Kerry a liar. He made those comments about America's top diplomat on Wednesday, accusing Kerry of lying to the U.S. congress.

So essentially, if you're still unsure whether or not the President has fulfilled his promise to quote "restore America's standing in the world," well, the answer is no.

Here with reaction, Florida Congressman Ron DeSantis, Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar is with us. Ron, let me start with you.

First, let's get to the issue. The president, first he said he had the authority, still said he had the authority but yet, he went to Congress. Now that it looks like the House may vote against him, the State Department says he might act alone. Do you think he has the authority to do it?

REP. RON DESANTIS, R-FLA.: Not in this instance. Because we don't have Americans in jeopardy, he is not really defending the United States like Reagan did in Grenada or responding to the Libya attacks.

But I think the president decided to come to Congress, not because he cares about Congress, he acts unilaterally all the time. I think it was because he wanted political cover, but I think the reality that he's running into is the American people don't want the intervention because they recognize that the people fighting Assad are also hostile to American interests. So the outcome of this civil war would be an anti-American regime, and so the calls in my office and my colleagues offices are 95 to one against getting involved in Syria right now.

HANNITY: That's true. The calls coming in on the D.C. switchboard are 95 to one?

DESANTIS: In my office, it's been overwhelming. I did a town hall meeting earlier this week. And I had 60 people there. And it was 59 to one saying, do not get involved in Syria. And that's an issue. You've got to have some legitimacy behind your decision. In a representative form of government, you have that many people who are opposed to this, there's something wrong about taking us to war when the people just do not want to do it.

HANNITY: Well, especially the way the president has defined and telegraphed he's going to do it, no boots on the ground, not open ended, days not weeks and no regime change. So, then one has to ask, what's the point of all this?

Congressman Gosar, let's go to the issue of Vladimir Putin, what he was referring to was Kerry saying that the opposition has increasingly become more defined by its moderation. Many of the experts that I talked to about that know this region well say that is not true, that the Al Qaeda-linked terrorists are more likely to seize power if Assad is gone.

REP. PAUL GOSAR, R-ARIZ.: We've seen that all over, Sean. You know, they can be more organized, better trained and they tend to be the leaders within these groups. And so, over and over again, this administration has been wrong one time in Egypt and Libya and now again here. They don't ever tell us the right story.

HANNITY: All right. Well, let's talk about, you know, there are some moderates there. We do have the free Syrian army. But haven't their numbers dwindled? Haven't they taken a lot of hits in this conflict?

GOSAR: Absolutely. And that's why we get back to the numbers. Representative McCaul questioned Senator Kerry in regards to that. He was astonished because he heard that the numbers were more than 50-50 with Al-Qaeda involved within the opposition rebels.

HANNITY: Has the President, Congressman Desantis, made the case for intervention here?

DESANTIS: I don't think so, because I don't think they have a clearly defined objective. So, the notion is, OK, we want to punish Assad for using poisoned gas. But we don't want to punish him enough to where that would help the rebel forces and we really not after regime change. And so, they're kind of trying to thread this needle. And I think at the end of the day, either you will going to do a strike that is a pinprick and not going to make a difference or you really will do a heavy strike at which point it's just a fact that that will help some of these Islamists and Al Qaeda fighters who are on the other side.

And I just don't see how, coming up on the anniversary of September 11th, both with the Benghazi deaths and of course 2001, that we would actually be intervening in a military conflict that would have the result of helping Sunni Islamist and Al Qaeda fighters.

HANNITY: Congressman Gosar, what do you make of the President's statement that, "I didn't draw a red line"? Now, I have the date and time a year ago where he said, yes, if you use chemical weapons he's crossing a red line. Now he's saying, it's your red line, it was the world's red line. Did he say that -- who said it? He said it.

GOSAR: He actually said it. But this administration blames everybody for every problem that goes on. You know, Sean, this is an atrocity that we see here. You know, you said it, and I'll make an analogy I'm a health care professional. You know, getting involved in Syria is like taking care of a fever when you have to take care of an abscess. And when you all take care of the abscess, the abscess in the Middle East is Iran, because they're the ones developing weapons of mass destruction and terrorism. You know, this is an absurdity.

HANNITY: All right. Let's say that the president, Congressman Desantis, goes ahead and he does what he says he's going to do, which is limited in nature, no boots on the ground, days, not weeks, no regime change. And let's say that the Syrians and the Iranians, they follow through on their promise which is to retaliate against Israel. Is the Congress prepared to back Israel considering we're putting them in that predicament?

DESANTIS: Well, I would certainly back Israel. And I think Paul mentioned Iran as really being the core strategic threat for both us and Israel. And we should be focusing on deterring Iran and their nuclear weapons. But you raise the issue Sean, about they say it's going to be limited, no boots on the ground. The problem is, you don't know what's going to happen after you start engaging. So, it very well may be that it requires an escalation depending on how Assad and how Iran responds.

And so, it's irresponsible to guarantee the American people that American boots will not be on the ground because we don't know what's going to happen with the exigencies of war.

HANNITY: And it may very well be that we help assist Al Qaeda-linked radical Islamists come to power. Is that a possible consequence, Congressman Gosar?

GOSAR: Absolutely. And when you start looking at the State Department releasing a memo later today that the military actually said it would take 75,000 military folks on the ground to secure chemical weapons. I mean, that's far from what we're hearing right now. There's no trust in this administration. They've lied to us in Egypt and the Benghazi and Fast and Furious. Why should we trust them now?

HANNITY: All right.

Let's talk about the vote. As of now, there's been a number of analysis about this. We got about a 199 lawmakers kind of decisively ruling out support and saying they're unlikely to back it. About 49 members of the House said they will likely vote in favor of the resolution. I guess, Congressman Desantis, we'll start with you. Do you think as this gets debated and discussed, and do you think there's any chance this passes in the House?

DESANTIS: I think it's very unlikely, and part of it is because of the nature of the opposition that we would essentially be helping. People do not want to see Islamic supremacists and Al Qaeda fighters get an upper hand in there. And I think the more and more people look at Syria, they say that the outcome will either be Assad stays, which is bad, the rebels take over, which would be maybe a Muslim type government, maybe a failed state where you have terror being launched from there? And so, none of those options are good. And I think given where the public is, I think most members are going to say, this is probably not a wise move and not in our national interests.

HANNITY: We're going to get into this more detail. I agree with both of your assessments that if we really want to send a message, those that want a modern day holocausts, the Iranians that have threatened to wipe Israel off the map, if we want to make a difference in the region, it's got to be taken out their nuclear sites otherwise, this pinprick is a waste of time. And frankly, a risk to our military and Israel that I don't think it's worth taking.

Thank you both. I appreciate it. We'll watch the vote closely, gentlemen.

GOSAR: Thank you, Sean.

DESANTIS: No problem. Thank you.

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