By MICHAEL FALCONE ( @michaelpfalcone )
THE SYRIA SCOREBOARD by the ABC News Political Unit:
THE SENATE: http://abcn.ws/18rMbwx
OPPOSE MILITARY ACTION IN SYRIA: 18
LIKELY TO OPPOSE: 5
SUPPORT MILITARY ACTION IN SYRIA: 20
LIKELY TO SUPPORT MILITARY ACTION IN SYRIA: 2
THE HOUSE: http://abcn.ws/1a99GwE
OPPOSE MILITARY ACTION IN SYRIA: 78
LIKELY TO OPPOSE: 153
SUPPORT MILITARY ACTION IN SYRIA: 19
LIKELY TO SUPPORT: 25
ABC's RICK KLEIN: The full-court press is on, and it's exhaustive and possibly exhausting. But will this be too much, too late? President Obama is employing the full tools of his office - network interviews, prime-time addresses, lunches and dinners and phone calls and, surely, promises galore - only after a majority of House members have gone on record as opposing military intervention at home. Critically, Obama gave lawmakers a full week at home to make up their minds, time used to make promises to constituents that will be cited in why they can't possibly change their minds now. Maybe Obama will be LeBron. But would LeBron have chosen to sit out the first three quarters?
ABC's JEFF ZELENY: In the most consequential campaign of his second term, President Obama is working the Syria vote more aggressively than almost anything else he's done in office. Yet the challenge for the White House is not merely persuading undecided members of Congress. It's getting others who have already spoken out against the strike to go against the wishes of their constituents, which is a tall order. If the president has any hope of winning, public opinion must shift. The coming days will test the power of the ever-shrinking presidency.
ABC's TOM SHINE: It was October of 1981. President Ronald Reagan wanted to sell sophisticated surveillance planes (known as AWACS) to Saudi Arabia. Israel said the Reagan proposal was a threat to their security and unleashed an intense lobby effort to kill the deal. Senator Roger Jepsen, Republican of Iowa, was leading the senate effort to defeat Reagan, telling AIPAC, the powerful Israel Lobby group, "I pledge my efforts and my vote to block this sale." The experts said Reagan would lose. But then came the Reagan phone calls, the one-on-one visits at the white house and what some would later describe as "brutal arm twisting." On the eve of the senate vote, Jepsen went to the senate Radio and TV gallery to make an announcement. He had changed his mind. He was now going to support the president. Reagan went on to win a close senate vote.
OBAMA HEADING TO THE HILL. President Obama is planning to visit Capitol Hill tomorrow, making his case on Syria face-to-face with senators, ABC' JEFF ZELENY reports. The president is scheduled to meet with Senate Democrats at their weekly policy luncheon, two Democratic aides said, intensifying his outreach as part of the administration's push for military strikes with Syria. He could also meet with other members of Congress, particularly those who remain undecided on Syria, officials said. The president has talked with lawmakers by phone, invited them to the White House and now is going to meet them on their turf. The Syria debate is a rare example for the president of how much of the skepticism is among his fellow Democrats. The Senate is scheduled to open debate this week on the Congressional resolution to authorize a limited military strike in Syria. Senate leaders say the first votes are expected to take place on Wednesday. The date, Sept. 11, is not intentionally meant to coincide with the infamous day in American history, aides said, but rather that is just when it fit into the legislative calendar. The House, where opposition is far deeper, is set to take up the proposal after the Senate. The House votes could stretch into the following week. http://abcn.ws/17Nxjq2
HAPPENING TODAY: SUSAN RICE SPEAKS ON SYRIA. This afternoon National Security Adviser Susan Rice delivers a speech to the New America Foundation to continue making the administration's case for striking Syria. Rice plans to "discuss the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons against Syrian civilians, the longstanding international norm against the use of chemical weapons, and the need for action to deter the Assad regime from future use of chemical weapons."
DID THE U.S. OFFER SYRIAN PRESIDENT AN OUT? America's top diplomat suggested in a passing remark that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad could avoid a U.S.-led strike if he handed over all his chemical weapons, but the State Department quickly dismissed the comment as more of a "rhetorical argument" than an offer, ABC's NICK SCHIFRIN notes. In a London news conference this morning, Secretary of State John Kerry responded to a question about whether Assad could do anything to avoid war by saying "he could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week. Turn it over, all of it, without delay and allow a full and total accounting." Kerry delivered the statement almost dismissively and quickly said Assad had no intention giving up "weapons he denies using." But it was still the first time such a suggestion had been made by the Obama administration. The State Department was forced to clarify the remarks, calling them rhetorical and making clear its desire to strike could be tempered by a Syrian offer. Kerry's point, according to spokeswoman Jen Psaki, "was that this brutal dictator with a history of playing fast and loose with the facts cannot be trusted to turn over chemical weapons." http://abcn.ws/17Rg0Xt
TED CRUZ: I DON'T THINK PRESIDENT OBAMA 'HAS THE AUTHORITY' TO ORDER SYRIA STRIKE WITHOUT APPROVAL. Contradicting President Obama's assertion, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas said Sunday morning on "This Week" that the president does not have the authority to order a military strike on Syria without Congressional approval. "I don't think he has the authority," Cruz told ABC's GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS. "It would be contrary to the Constitution," he added later, when Stephanopoulos asked him if acting without Congressional approval would be an impeachable offense, as some republicans have suggested. President Obama said last month that while he was in favor of a military strike on Syria and believed he could order one without Congressional authorization, he would seek the approval of Congress before he ordered military strikes against the Middle Eastern nation for its alleged use of chemical weapons last month that the United States says killed close to 1,500 people, including more than 400 children. Cruz has been a critic of the President's push for military action against Syria, saying on "This Week" Sunday that "I think a military attack is a mistake." "One because I think the administration is proceeding with the wrong objective, and two, because they have no viable plan for success," Cruz said. "They are beginning from the wrong objective because this attack is not based on defending U.S. national security… I don't think that's the job of our military to be defending amorphous international norms." http://abcn.ws/14CZ70n
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
GREGORY HICKS: HEARING OF DEATH OF CHRISTOPHER STEVENS 'SADDEST MOMENT' IN MY CAREER. In an exclusive interview with ABC's GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, former Deputy Chief of Mission in Libya Gregory Hicks recalled being told of the death of then U.S. ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens in Benghazi last year, characterizing it as the "saddest moment" in his career. Hicks - who had a brief phone conversation only hours before with Stevens before the line went dead - was informed of his death by Libya's prime minister, ABC's BEN BELL writes. "He just says, 'I'm very sorry, Greg, to tell you this, but our friend Chris has passed on.' I think those were his words. There was deep remorse in his voice when he said it," said Hicks, who was in Tripoli when he first heard of the attack. Stevens was one of four Americans killed Sept. 11, 2012 in Benghazi. Computer specialist Sean Smith and former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty also died in the attack. Hicks said he doesn't understand why more military resources were not sent to Benghazi after he notified State Department officials in Washington that the consulate was under attack. "I don't know exactly what was available…And I still don't quite understand why…they couldn't fly aircraft over to Benghazi," he said. http://abcn.ws/17LCuae
WHAT WE'RE WATCHING
THE LONG MARCH TOWARD REVOLUTION: 3 EGYPTIAN STUDENTS DEBATE THEIR COUNTRY'S FUTURE. As the unrest in Egypt continues, with violence sporadically breaking out between supporters of ousted President Mohamed Morsi and the interim government that replaced him, the political future of the country remains unclear. In this episode of "On the Radar," ABC's MARTHA RADDATZ sat down with three Egyptian students - all with differing perspectives on the political crisis in their country - to discuss their outlook for the future of Egypt. Khaled Ashraf, a recent graduate of Helwan University in Cairo, is supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood and believes that the interim government is unfairly painting Morsi supporters as terrorists. "There is no evidence for this," Ashraf says, going on to talk specifically about a recent Muslim Brotherhood sit-in at the Rabaa al-Adaweyah mosque in Cairo, during which many protestors were killed and there were reports of torture inside the sit-in. http://yhoo.it/13zHdOL
@MarkLandler: Incisive look at how Syria, and Obama, are testing the powers of the presidency, from @charlie_savage: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/09/world/middleeast/obama-tests-limits-of-power-in-syrian-conflict.html?hp …
@JesseFFerguson: Don't miss this from @RollCallAbby - "New Batch of Democratic Recruits Named to DCCC's Jumpstart Program" http://www.rollcall.com/news/new_batch_of_democratic_recruits_named_to_dcccs_jumpstart_program-227426-1.html?pos=hln …