Breaking News Emails
As President Donald Trump appeared to change course on foreign policy in the wake of missile strikes against Syria late Thursday, some of his supporters stood by him while others from his far-right flank seemed rankled by the move.
Trump’s decision to carry out the targeted strike against a Syrian air base late Thursday in response to a deadly chemical weapon attack was met with support, albeit with some caution, by his backers who spoke with NBC News on Friday.
"What the president just did is stand for rights of the oppressed around the world — and that is being presidential," said Daniel Cortez, a Marine Corps veteran who served in Vietnam and is a Trump voter.
Cortez, of Stafford, Virginia, said he felt Trump's military decision was warranted, but added that he wanted the president to seek advice and approval from Congress before deciding the need for further military action.
The veteran said he felt Trump's decision was still in line with his oft-trumpeted "America First" agenda, which to him meant a "need to fortify our military assets, economic assets and build on that."
"We have to have the resolve to counter actions from foreign governments that are detrimental to our internal safety," Cortez said.
"Sometimes we have to fight and what we do have to fight is tyrants that are abusing innocent women and children, and I think the world has to stand with the president," he added.
Trump voter Lori Clements, of Waynetown, Indiana, said she "wasn't thrilled about" the strike, but supported the president and was willing to see what happened next.
"Whatever works. We've got to do something," she said.
Asked if she thought Trump was sticking to his "America First" agenda, she said, "I think it's way too early in the game" and that people should give the president a chance.
Linda Kennedy, of Circleville, Ohio, who said she voted for Trump in November, but with many reservations, said she hoped the president made the right decision.
"It’s a horrible thing, especially when children get killed like that that, but it's always really scary when we bomb anybody because we don’t know where its going to lead," she said, adding she hopes Trump takes time to plan his next move.
"He needs to really think hard about this sort of thing," Kennedy said.
She added that while the cost of the strike could be taking money away from his domestic agenda, "in theory, you're keeping the world safer."
William Hansen, a veteran of the Marine Corps, expressed reservations about the decision, but said in the end he supported the military experience and guidance of Defense Secretary James Mattis. Hansen said he voted for Libertarian Gary Johnson in November.
"Honestly, my whole thought was 'Mad Dog' wouldn’t put us in a position to be back at war if there wasn’t a very good reason," he said, referring to Mattis' nickname.
"I saw what happened. I felt really bad about the chemical weapons, you obviously don’t want people to be hurt, but we don’t want our troops to be hurt there either," he said.
Hansen, of Rocklin, California, added that he hoped Trump would "take care of America," and said he had many friends who were veterans who still needed support and resources back home.
"For me, let's leave the wars alone for a little and let's just take of ourselves," he said.
Trump's missile strike followed years of expressing his disapproval for increased U.S. involvement in the war-torn region — especially bombing Syria without Congressional approval.
On Thursday night, the president said it is in the "vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons."
Meanwhile, some of Trump’s most fervent far-right supporters denounced the strike as a betrayal of his campaign promises.
Ann Coulter tweeted early Friday that “Trump campaigned on not getting involved in Mideast. Said it always helps our enemies & creates more refugees. Then he saw a picture on TV.”
The conservative political commentator also added that “Christians who live in Syria are terrified of what will happen if Assad is gone.”
Others accused Trump of going against his campaign promises.
White nationalist Richard Spencer denounced the missile strike in a series of tweets, adding in a video posted on YouTube that Trump’s actions were “a betrayal” of his campaign promises.
Others conservative media personalities voiced support of Trump, saying his decision was a show of strength.