All four members of Maine’s congressional delegation on Tuesday either opposed the deployment of U.S. ground combat forces to Iraq to fight the Islamic State terrorist group or did not believe ground forces were necessary.

The following statements are from delegation members and several congressional candidates responding to comments Tuesday by Gen. Martin Dempsey, the nation’s top military officer, that American ground troops may be needed to battle Islamic State forces if President Barack Obama’s current strategy fails:

U.S. Sen. Angus King:

King, an independent who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, asked Dempsey and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel what happens if Saudi Arabia, Turkey and other regional allies do not step up to help defeat the Islamic State.

“Are we going to do it by ourselves?” King asked in a video of the meeting. “The answer has to be (that) we can’t. Not only because the American people aren’t interested in it, but also because it isn’t going to work. … This war has to have a coalition face.”

In an interview Tuesday evening, King said he would not support the use of U.S. combat troops against Islamic State at this juncture and he hopes any authorization of force resolution taken up by Congress will limit the use of ground troops.


U.S. Sen. Susan Collins:

Collins, a Republican who serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee, supports U.S. airstrikes against the group in conjunction with allies’ military efforts but indicated she does not believe U.S. combat troops are necessary.

“Senator Collins believes that General Dempsey’s comments reflect his professional military judgment regarding the complex and challenging threat ISIS poses,” spokesman Kevin Kelley said. “Obviously, the President has already sent more than a thousand military advisers to the region. As far as combat troops are concerned, Senator Collins believes that an effective effort likely does require boots on the ground, but not American boots on the ground.”

Shenna Bellows, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate:

Bellows, who is challenging Collins in this November’s election, opposes sending U.S. combat troops to fight the Islamic State and expressed concerns about the amount of money already spent on the war in Iraq.

“I do not support sending troops in to fight on the ground in Iraq again, and General Dempsey’s comments raise serious questions about the strategy behind airstrikes and arming the Syrian rebels,” Bellows’ statement said. “We need to be very thoughtful about what’s in the best interest of the American public and pause carefully before spending billions of dollars more on wars we cannot afford that make us less safe.”


U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District:

Pingree, a Democrat who has said the U.S. should be spending more money on domestic programs rather than on military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, came out strongly against any U.S. ground forces against Islamic State.

“I am deeply opposed to sending Americans back into combat in Iraq, and General Dempsey’s comments are a reminder how a military campaign against ISIS could easily lead to the involvement of U.S. combat troops in the region,” Pingree said in a statement.

Isaac Misiuk, Republican candidate for 1st District:

Misiuk supports the U.S. airstrikes against a terrorist group that is killing civilians in Iraq — including children — as well as two American citizens and a Briton. But Misiuk could not say whether he would support the involvement of U.S. ground troops, because he is not privy to the classified information available to members of Congress.

“I can’t honestly say what my stance would be without knowing that information” provided to Congress, Misiuk said in an interview. “But I would only support any sort of ground troops if we are not the only ones fighting.”


U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, D-2nd District:

Michaud, a Democrat who is running for governor this year, expressed concerns that Dempsey’s comments appeared to contradict Obama’s stance against ground troops and that House members could be forced to vote on an authorization resolution prematurely.

“It’s concerning to me that, at this point in time, there still isn’t consensus within the administration on a comprehensive strategy to tackle this serious threat,” Michaud said in a statement. “I do not support sending ground troops into Iraq at this time.”

Bruce Poliquin, Republican candidate for 2nd District:

Poliquin did not say whether he would support U.S. combat troops in Iraq, but said the Islamic State needed to be defeated, not contained. The Republican accused the Obama administration of “promising decisive action” without following up on those promises.

“It is very important that if I’m able to serve in Congress that I hold the president accountable for making sure he is very clear to Congress what his objectives are when he commits our sons and daughters in uniform to military conflict,” Poliquin said in a statement.

Emily Cain, Democratic candidate for 2nd District:

Cain did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday night.

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