McCain says he feels ‘lonely’ on Syria stance

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said his role as one of the few vocal advocates for a U.S. military strike against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad in Syria left him feeling isolated by his peers.

“It has felt a little lonely from time to time,” McCain said Monday on MSNBC’s "Morning Joe."

But McCain said he was advocating for a noble cause, and pointed to former President Harry Truman, who endured a low public approval rating during the Korean War.

“If Harry Truman had bowed to public opinion the world would be a very different place had we lost to Korea,” McCain said.

“There are times when leaders have to stand up, and frankly, when others have to say what they believe and if it costs you politically, as you know I had some very interesting town-hall meetings back in Arizona, but that’s what you’re supposed to do.”

McCain faced angry constituents, who lambasted the longtime senator over his advocacy for air strikes against Syria at town-hall meetings earlier this month.

President Obama initially asked Congress to authorize the strikes but backed off after a Russian-brokered diplomatic effort led Syria to agree to turn over its chemical weapons stockpiles to international control. Congress had appeared poised to reject the authorization.

On Monday, McCain continued to express doubt that a diplomatic solution was the proper course of action, arguing that the Syrians couldn’t be trusted to abide by the accord they signed and wouldn’t hand over their chemical weapons stockpiles as promised.

“I think what they are pursuing is a laudable goal, but there’s no real way to achieve it,” he said.

“Until you reverse the momentum on the battlefield, and Bashar al-Assad thinks he’s going to lose, is the only way you get a negotiated departure of Bashar al-Assad,” he continued. “As long as he thinks he’s winning, particularly with the assistance that he’s getting from the Russians and the Iranians. As we speak today, there will be a plane load of arms, conventional weapons, landing from Moscow to be used to kill Syrians. At the same time, we are dismantling the chemical weapons stocks. That’s crazy.”