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NBC National News Reports Public Protest Syrian War

Above: Medea Benjamin is removed after protesting in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

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Good evening. there are two different conversations going on in this country right about now. one of them in washington, the other in the rest of the country. both of them have to do with an extreme extremely violence of a war a long way away from us in syria. president obama says he’s convinced the government there used chemical weapons against its own people and that the u.s. must attack, and he’s asked congress to go along with him. so, in washington the conversation went like this today. secretary of state john kerry made the case to a house committee, and while he spoke protesters made the indelible point silently sitting behind him that the u.s. would then have blood on its hands. across the rest of the country, americans who are tired of two wars over the past decade or more are wondering if even a limited attack is worth the cost and the potential risk. it is where we begin tonight with nbc’s kelly o’donnell in grand rapids, michigan. kelly, good evening.

>> reporter: good evening, brian. the message we’re hearing is loud and it’s lopsided. against the use of military force. the americans who want to be heard at meetings here and around the country are even more opposed than those questioned more broadly in public opinion polls. it does reflect a concern about the country getting involved in another conflict.

> you don’t know, for example —

>> reporter: crammed into tight spaces —

>> what difference are we going to make.

>> reporter: and crowded together.

>> i want you to vote no on syria.

>> all we’re going to do is create another problem. we need to stop.

>> reporter: out today to see their congressmen and say their peace on syria. do you think the u.s. should take action?

>> no, i don’t.

>> reporter: that no was repeated again and again. each time the congressman asked for a show of hands, at leerl a dozen stops over two days.

>> how many are opposed to military strikes?

>> reporter: and in his republican district near grand rapids district he has been holding the sessions exclusively about syria, a country where his own mother was born. a republican, he does not support a military strike saying u.s. national security is not at stake. do you think leadership in washington will listen to what you’ve been hearing here?

>> i think so. if they go against the will of the american people to this extent, there will be serious repercussi repercussions.

>> reporter: from packed town hall meetings in connecticut, to oklahoma this week, americans had vented their frustrations and fears. west virginians fired up the phone lines into washington.

>> thank you for calling senator joe manchin’s office, staffers keeping track of what the public has to say.

>> i’ll let the senator know you’re opposed to intervening in syria.

>> reporter: back here in michigan.

>> cleaning up everybody’s mess.

>> reporter: war weariness is evident. when you hear the administration say this will be very limited, do you believe him?

>> i do not. he has no idea that’s the case. it is a complete unknown.

>> reporter: clearly outnumbered at meetings today pastor tim cooper says he thinks the u.s. must do something.

>> i can’t imagine our commander in chief asking to do this if it weren’t going to be effective.

>> reporter: the congress has just a couple of dozen of the hundreds of people he’s met do support that. i checked back with senator manchin’s office. they say they have received 2,000 e-mails and phone calls overwhelmingly opposed and, brian, the people we met said they have a lot of compassion for the suffering in syria but so many doubts about what the u.s. can and should do. brian.

>> kelly o’donnell starting us off from grand rapids, michigan tonight.

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