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Minn. Congress Members Disagree On Syria Response

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(credit: CBS) Pat Kessler
Pat Kessler knows Minnesota politics. He's been on the beat long...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – There appears to be little disagreement about the evidence of Syria’s use of chemical weapons, but amongst Minnesota’s Congressional delegation – there are major differences over what to do about it.

At the Minnesota State Fair, members of Congress were getting all sorts of advice. Democrat Keith Ellison says he supports a limited, tactical military response to chemical warfare.

“I’m an anti-war person, but I’m also not a pure pacifist. I do believe there are times when you have to protect innocent people with force. And I believe this may well be one of those times,” Ellison said.

The Syria crisis is revealing some rare Minnesota political coalitions: Democrats Betty McCollum and Rick Nolan are joining Republican Michele Bachmann to oppose any military action.

Republican Erik Paulsen, with Democrats Colin Peterson and Tim Walz, say the president must get congressional approval before any military strike.

“The American people need to vet this and I think the question I have is that no ones denying that the act needs to have a response. The question is: What’s the appropriate response?” Walz said.

At a State Fair radio appearance, Democratic Senator Al Franken said there “are no good options.” He strongly opposes “boots on the ground,” but says the U.S. cannot avoid a military response.

“The message has to be sent that using chemical weapons in warfare is unacceptable,” Franken said.

Minnesota Republican Congressman John Kline and a small group of congressional leaders met with President Obama Friday afternoon to discuss Syria.

Kline’s office said he would have no further comment on Syria and a possible military strike.

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