Obama's heartland overwhelmingly against Syria policy

Congressman Elijah Cummings talks to voters in the President's heartland of Baltimore about Syria. Photo: ITV News

Alongside Congressman Elijah Cummings, one of my favourite American politicians, I have just been hunting in inner-city Baltimore.

We were prowling for voters who support President Obama's Syria policy. The Congressman and close friend of the President).

And guess what? We didn't find any.

Instead we found overwhelming distrust of another Middle East military adventure.

Congressman Cummings has been taken aback by his experience. "It's 95% opposed," he told me, suggesting that no sane politician could ignore those views and survive.

To walk these streets with Congressman Cummings is to realise that the President is in a world of trouble. We already knew that this missile strike was not going to be popular with war-weary Americans.

Washington Correspondent Robert Moore speaks to Congressman Elijah Cummings in Baltimore. Credit: ITV News

But remember Baltimore is the President's heartland. He wins 90% of votes here. Think about that. President Obama wins 90% of votes here and yet 95% oppose him on this decision.

The views that Congressman Cummings heard as he walked the streets were typical: This is a war we can't afford. What's the end-game? Why get involved in another civil war we can't shape or control? Why does America need to be the world's policeman once more? Who are the good guys in this conflict?

Congressman Elijah Cummings hunted for voters who supported President Obama's Syria policy but found very few. Credit: Reuters

Cummings is a key vote for the President when the House of Representatives votes on the Congressional resolution next week. He's a political ally; he's devastated by the pictures he's watched of children being gassed by their own leader; he's worried about what message inaction sends.

"It's the most difficult decision of my life," he concedes.

So how will he vote?

He pauses. "I'm leaning no."

If anything should give the President pause, it should be Congressman Cummings' experience canvassing opinion in Baltimore.

It's clear that President Obama is struggling at the G20 to marshall an international response.

He's failed at the United Nations. And most dangerously of all he is forging ahead with a high-risk military intervention in defiance of American opinion as well.

That's either political courage or great folly.

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