The President Still 'Wants to Keep His Finger on the Trigger' While Pushing For Diplomacy

Obama makes a last-ditch effort to convince Congress to support a military strike on Syria.
5:29 | 09/10/13

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Transcript for The President Still 'Wants to Keep His Finger on the Trigger' While Pushing For Diplomacy
and as we come on the air, the president is getting ready to speak directly to the american people and it is a big moment in his presidency. After nearly two weeks of threatening u.S. Military action against syria, syria said today it is willing to give up the biggest stock pile of chemical weapons in the middle east, one of the biggest in the world. So how does this change what the u.S. Will do next and are americans here at home safer tonight? Our abc team is standing by. We begin with abc's chief white house correspondent jonathan karl at the white house. Jon? Reporter: Even as he makes a last ditch push for a diplomatic solution the president is doing everything he can to convince congress and the public to support a military strike as one senator who met with the president today put it, " he still wants to keep his finger on the trigger." In advance of his big speech tonight, the president tried the personal tough today, going to capitol hill for lunch for senators. It may be the biggest test yet of his leadership, asking for support on a national security issue and failing to get it, would make him look weak around the world and like a lame duck at home. Today syria announced it would except russia's profile to turn over their chemical weapons. Sdiet despite that the white house is making a battle. The president and his team have directly lobbied nearly 450 members of the house and senate, including private briefings for key members in the white house situation room, calls from air force one, and lots of classified briefings. The president told diane sawyer last night congressional approval is critical. It may be less effective if i don't have congressional support and the american people don't recognize why we're doing this. Reporter: So far the president isn't gaining support, he's losing it. In both the house and the senate more members are opposing obama on syria than supporting him. He told senators he probably won't change. Opinion with tonight's speech either. I'm good, he said but not that good. As for syria's offer to hand over their weapons, secretary of state john kerry said today that's only because they're worried about being attacked. Nothing focuses the mind like the pros protect of a hanging. Reporter: There is deep skepticism that syria would voluntarily turn over and destroy their entire chemical weapons stock pile. Diane, as you pointed out it's one of the biggest in the world. There is little trust for them. There is concern about getting those weapons together during a raging civil yar. As one white house official said we are in trust but verify mode but most just verify, there is no trust. What does this mean for congress? The votes aren't there right now. What the president said today is look, I want your authorization but I cannot have you vote down this resolution. The president essentially asked them to hold back if it looks like it's going to go down he can't have a no vote. It would undermine his diplomatic efforts. The president addresses the nation, 6,000 miles away a dictator will be listening and deciding what he will do next, bashar al-assad. Terry moran is in the region for assad's next move. Reporter: By accepting, he shows his a strong provider. His strength is deceptive, the soft voice, the weak chin. He sure doesn't look like this guy, or this guy. But while other arab dictators or toppled, dead or both, bashar al-assad has proven to be more tenacious, wiley and successful than u.S. Officials guessed during this showdown with obama. It's time for the regime to move on. He needs to step down. Assad needs to go. Reporter: Yet here assad still is, even cleverly playing on the fears of the american public. Going to support al qaeda and the same people the americans in the 11 of september. Reporter: Assad fights this war surrounded by a small clique of advisers, none closer than his glamorous wife asma. Raised in london where she was known as emma, she's frequently seen on tv and instagram doing good works. She's savvy and tough, too. She weighs in on everything as he wages this war. As a married couple we talk about a lot of things like most married couples do. Ultimately he is the president and makes the final decision. Assad has been in power for 13 years, the cool inheriter of a family business running syria like his father did. They like to say he may look like fray doe core lee own knee but he's really michael. A reminder, abc news will carry the president's address to the nation live tonight at 9:00 p.M. Eastern.

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