Alexander: 'No' for now on Syria, takes on conservative question - WKRN News 2

Alexander: 'No' for now on Syria, takes on conservative question

Posted: Updated: Sep 4, 2013 06:04 PM CDT

On a day when he took on those who say he is not conservative enough, Tennessee Republican Senator Lamar Alexander says he has "not made up his mind yet" about supporting a military strike against Syria, but he "would not vote for it" until he is told more about the consequences.

The Obama Administration believes the Syrian leadership likely used Sarin gas against opposition forces in that country's civil war, but the senior Tennessee senator says he's "concerned about steps B, C and D" after a military strike.

"I don't see any kind of clarity yet," Alexander said Wednesday in a speech to the Lebanon Chamber of Commerce in suburban Wilson County.  

The Senator indicated there are other options along with a military strike.

"Clearly we are disgusted by the use of poison gas by Assad against his own people, but I want to explore what all the options are, some maybe military, some may not be military," Alexander told the audience.

While the Syrian question was not part of his prepared remarks, those who have taken issue with his conservative credentials were part of the speech.

Alexander, who is already facing an announced candidate in state representative and Tea Party supporter Joe Carr for the August primary next year, devoted part of his speech to "scorecards about what kind of conservative you are."

The senator said there are "different kind of conservatives" in the Republican Party and "a lot of people who talk about their principles."

Alexander said he was one of those conservatives who "turns principles into results," citing things like building four lane roads without any debt while he was governor.

He offered a rebuke of a recent Tea Party letter urging him to resign because he had abandoned his conservative values.

"Kind of reminds me what would happen if you are sitting on Sunday School in Lebanon or Maryville [his hometown] and some new kid showed up and said, 'I am a better Christian that you are, and if you don't agree with me, get out of the church,'" Alexander told the gathering.

When asked about his Republican Primary challenger, Alexander said, "My job is to take my conservative principles and put them to work solving problems, and I respect the people of Tennessee and their right to decide if I am elected to another term."

Alexander told News 2 he was not surprised about a challenger a year out from the primary.

"No, I am not surprised. We have elections in this country, it's a great privilege to serve in the U.S. Senate and I am not surprised anyone else would want to do it," he added.

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