POLITICS

Dems in disarray over Syria

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Politics,Chris Stirewalt,Power Play

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DEMS IN DISARRAY OVER SYRIA
While President Obama is plenty busy in Russia today trying to build international support for his call to strike Syria, he’s been doing some long distance diplomacy back home as members of his own party recoil from his call to arms. Obama called senators to drum up support for military action. The White House has also ditched a scheduled presidential trip to Los Angeles next week in order to keep selling in Washington. Obama heads home today, but Secretary of State John Kerry picks up the ball overseas, departing for Lithuania this morning for coalition building after a series of confrontations with Congress. With Republicans uneasy about the overall strategy, a crumbling Democratic coalition poses problems for the president’s plan.
 
[Watch Fox: President Obama holds a press conference at the G20 Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia in the 9 a.m. ET hour]

Start the clock - Obama will arrive in Washington with the clock running on an authorization vote in the Senate set for next week. And while the administration is starting to increase its outreach effort (the White House has launched an Internet site in support), hawks are growing increasingly concerned that Obama cannot deliver his own party at the critical moment. The administration has also enlisted Vice President Joe Biden to make the sale with restive Democrats.

[WaPo is tracking where Congress stands on the issue. The current whip count for authorizing a strike in the Senate: 24 against, 23 in favor, 53 undecided. In the House: 105 against, 24 in favor, 142 undecided.]

 “…[W]hip counts are overwhelmingly against already, there's no reason to try to use any procedure. The House doesn't want it, the American people don't want it.” – Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla. talking to reporters after a closed-door briefing on Syria

Congressional Black Caucus head tells members not to discuss Syria - Chairwoman Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, has asked members to “limit public discussion on the issue.” Caucus members seem to so far be obliging.
 
[WSJ’s Kimberly Strassel: “The press is obsessed with the Republican reaction to Mr. Obama's resolution. But the party facing the biggest split over the vote -- and whose actions will have the greatest ramifications for the presidency -- is Mr. Obama's.]

Moderate Dems call for delay - Sens. Joe Manchin D-W.Va., and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., have proposed a resolution delaying the immediate use of force compelling the president to build more international and domestic support. “Given the case that has been presented to me, I believe that a military strike against Syria at this time is the wrong course of action,” Manchin said in a statement.

Obama pushing gay rights in Russia - “[President Obama] is rhetorically waving the gay-rights flag on his visit to Russia,” the Daily Caller reports, “…even as he is working to soften or bypass opposition from Russia’s president to a strike on Syria…[Obama will] take time to meet with Russian gay rights groups.” [Ed. note: It may not play in St. Petersburg, but the president’s gay-rights stand will help with the liberal base at home.]

[Noonan: “A great nation cannot go to war—and that's what a strike on Syria, a sovereign nation, is, an act of war—without some rough unity as to the rightness of the decision. Widespread public opposition is in itself reason not to go forward.]
                                                                
BAIER TRACKS: ORGANIZING FOR INACTION ON SYRIA…  
“It appears the administration is more worried about losing liberals than conservatives on the Syria vote (although initial head counts don't look great on either side).  Thursday night, Secretary of State John Kerry appeared on Chris Hayes' show on MSNBC making the case.  Friday, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power, will speak at the Center for American Progress, the liberal think tank started by John Podesta
 
There are already rumors on Capitol Hill that the administration isn't too fond of the broad language amended into the resolution by Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Chris Coons, D-Del., -- so much so that administration officials may try to get that language dropped with further amendments brought up by supporters. Looking at all of that, you could easily come to the conclusion that the administration is making a full-court press to shore up liberal votes, correct?
 
Well, you could read it that way. But strangely, President Obama’s former campaign, Organizing for Action, is missing in action. The group has been mobilized to defend the president’s health law as well as his tax plans, his proposed immigration overhaul and other agenda items. But on arguably the biggest issue for this president -- one where his second term agenda may hang in the balance -- nada, zilch, zip from OFA.

According to a transcript obtained by Fox News, in his weekly call with grassroots supporters, OFA Executive Director Jon Carson said of Syria, ‘We don't always actively organize around every issue and the debate in Congress over the Syria vote is not one that OFA is planning on organizing around.’

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