Tipton shares first thoughts on Syria in Pueblo West High School student town hall
“I’m of the belief that when Congress is not in session, America is safer.”
That quip from Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Colo.) drew some laughter from Pueblo West High School juniors and seniors during his visit to the school Wednesday, one of his stops in a week away from Washington, D.C., spending time in his congressional district that stretches from Pueblo County through southern Colorado and up to Grand Junction.
Students asked questions of Tipton during the informal hour-long town-hall-style event, covering questions from renewable energy to the specter of President Donald Trump’s impeachment, as well as the ongoing situation in Syria.
In response to a student question about the topic, Tipton offered his first public comment about Trump’s recent and sudden withdrawal of U.S. troops from the region.
“We’d all like for our troops to come home,” Tipton told the crowd of an estimated 100 students, “and we’d like for there to be peace, but unfortunately we have enemies that do not have the same goal.”
Sunday, Trump announced an immediate withdrawal of troops from northeastern Syria, which were stationed in the region to fight the Islamic State (IS). Since 2014, a United States-led coalition of nations sought to stem the spread of the IS in Iraq and Syria, relying heavily on Kurdish-led combat troops in region.
The sudden withdrawal left the Syrian Kurds wide open to an invasion by neighboring Turkey, led by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who sees Kurdish forces in the region as “terrorists.” Wednesday, following the U.S. withdrawal, Turkey officially launched a military operation against the Kurds in northeastern Syria.
Many of Trump’s Republican allies in Congress, which hardly break rank with the president on any issue, have been openly critical of Trump’s decision to withdraw. In making his comments to Pueblo West High School students Wednesday, Tipton is the latest congressional Republican to question Trump’s decision.
A Trump ally, Tipton, along with Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), were selected as honorary co-chairs of Trump’s 2020 re-election effort in Colorado.
“I would encourage the administration and those that will making those determinations to look out for the long-term interests of the country,” Tipton said. “I think the Kurds have been good allies in fighting the War on Terror and I believe we should support them.”
Tipton riffed openly about numerous topics in his visit with the students, even touching on congressional Democrats’ efforts to begin an impeachment inquiry into Trump, which he said wasn’t based on any impeachable offenses.
He said he loves having open dialogue with students interested in the political process, as well as those that may potentially run for office themselves some day.
“It’s great to be able to talk to the kids,” Tipton said. “Ultimately it’s going to be their future that we’ll be impacting, and I always find it inspiring. It’s great to hear from kids, some of them that may be interested in (running for office) some day, and hearing their ideas. Our best solutions always come from home, and oftentimes, a lot of it comes from kids.”
The event was coordinated by Pueblo West High School student Nick DeSalvo, an AP government student at the school, who reached out to Tipton’s office so set up the event, providing an opportunity for his fellow students to get to know their representative.
“Of the juniors and seniors (at the school), most of the them will be able to vote in 2020,” DeSalvo said. “I think it’s important that people know the issues and who represents them. Not only is it educational, but it’s informative about the policies he stands for.”
The fact that the student event provided the forum for Tipton to make his first public comments about Syria made the event even better, DeSalvo said.
“I think it’s really cool,” DeSalvo said. “It almost equalizes us with the rest of the public. Where he hasn’t made a statement yet, I think it’s really awesome that he was willing to share that with us.”