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Organizing for America Sits Out Syria Debate

1:49 PM, Sep 5, 2013 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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Politico's Reid Epstein reports

Barack Obama’s supporters built a political organization to pressure Congress to build public support for him. Yet on one of his biggest efforts since Organizing for Action re-launched early this year — the push to convince Congress to adopt a use-of-force authorization against Syria — the group has so far sat on the sidelines.

OFA’s silence has been palpable. It didn’t send one of its ubiquitous emails to supporters and volunteers, nor did it signal to top donors how it might help press Obama’s case on Syria — or even whether it would participate in the president’s push at all.

It’s been a marked departure from how OFA handled Obama’s policy pushes on the environment, gun control, the economy and immigration, all of which came with cross-platform support. And it leaves dormant Obama’s single biggest lobbying army, the group formed with the express purpose of pressuring Congress to pass Obama’s agenda, at a time when House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has said it will be up to the president to whip votes in support of a Syrian attack.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi has also said that she is not pushing her colleagues to vote in favor of the authorization of force against Syria. But liberal Washington Post blogger Greg Sargent reports that House Democratic aides believe informal whip counts in the press overstate the number of House Democrats opposed to the resolution: "Aides believe there’s a lot of pressure on Dems — given the unpopularity of strikes with constituents, as reflected in the polls, and given some of the pressure being directed to offices by liberal groups — to downplay the possibility of a Yes vote later."

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