President Obama is considering a high-profile address to the nation on the need for military intervention in Syria — a speech that could come as early as this week — according to top lawmakers and administration officials.
Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said today there is no speech planned at this point, but that Obama is looking at “multiple opportunities” to make the case directly to Congress and the American people.
On Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that he has “no doubt” the president will make a speech from the Oval Office in the coming days.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., also said Wednesday that Obama would make a direct appeal to the American public on Syria “probably later this week.”
Obama is expected to return to Washington from Russia and the G-20 summit late Friday night. His weekend schedule has not been announced.
The White House today cancelled Obama’s planned overnight trip to California on Monday, when he was to address the AFL-CIO convention and attend a Democratic fundraiser. Also on Monday, Congress officially returns to Washington from its summer recess.
“I think the president needs to sit in the Oval Office, look at every American in the eye, and explain the reason why this is important,” Menendez said on “Morning Joe.” ”And I think he’ll do that.”
President Obama has only given two live televised addresses from the Oval Office — once during the June 2010 BP oil spill crisis in the Gulf of Mexico, the other to announce the end of combat operations in Iraq two months later. He has most often preferred to formally address the nation from the stately Cross Hall entrance to the East Room, where he has stood many times, including to announce the death of Osama bin Laden.
He faces an uphill climb in convincing the American public to support his decision. Nearly six in 10 Americans in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll oppose unilateral U.S. missile strikes against Syria, despite the Assad regime’s alleged use of chemical weapons in the civil war.