GOP candidates split on Syria

Newt Gingrich has said that were he the president, he would have been engaging in "genuinely covert operations" in Syria to help organize rebel opposition to the Syrian president. 

"And I would ensure that those folks had adequate weapons," Gingrich told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Tuesday. The idea of helping arm the Syrian opposition has been floated by GOP leaders such as Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat Meghan McCain knocks Bannon: 'Who the hell are you' to criticize Romney? Dems demand Tillerson end State hiring freeze, consult with Congress MORE (Ariz.), but the Obama administration has indicated that it is not considering the idea. The administration is looking for ways to send aid, not arms.

Ron Paul, who has been slammed by his fellow GOP candidates for his foreign-policy views, said the Syrian regime's violence against the opposition is a "tragedy," but "none of our business."

"What should be a domestic civil war is now turning into an international crisis," Paul told CNN's John King on Tuesday. "I don't think it's a wise thing to get involved in the civil war that's going on in Syria. That would cost money.  It would cost lives. And it would — it may — may well spread."

He went on to say that Russia and China were reacting to U.S. "agitating" on the issue. The two countries over the weekend vetoed a United Nations resolution that called on Assad to step down from power.

Mitt Romney's foreign-policy white paper, available on his website, echoes Gingrich in criticizing the Obama administration for attempting to negotiate with Assad until recently in hopes the Syrian strongman would step down. Romney calls for increased pressure on Assad and for the United States to "make clear" that it supports the anti-Assad opposition forces.

Rick Santorum's position on Syria is likewise available on his campaign website. He calls for increased pressure on the Syrian government over its support of Iran and proposes eliminating the post of U.S. ambassador to Syria.

The Obama administration recently closed the U.S. embassy to Syria in response to the increased violence and security concerns. Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said earlier this week that the position of U.S. ambassador to Syria will continue to exist and work remotely.