The latest: President Obama's national address
Updated On: Sep 10 2013 09:58:40 PM CDT
President Barack Obama opened the door to a diplomatic way out of the crisis in Syria -- while refusing to close the door on military intervention -- in a nationally televised speech Tuesday night.
Here are key developments from Capitol Hill, the White House and across Washington before, during and after the president's address.
10:44 p.m. ET - House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers in a statement said he's "hopeful a diplomatic solution can be reached, however, I am skeptical of any proposal proffered by the Russians and doubt Assad's motives for agreeing to this plan ... the President still urgently needs to develop and execute a coherent strategy to address all of those threats."
10:34 p.m. ET - 6 in 10 Americans who watched the president's speech tonight said they favor his approach, according to CNN's instant poll taken after Obama spoke. Sixty-one percent said they support the president's position in Syria and 37% said they oppose his response.
The poll indicated that nearly two-thirds of those who watched the speech think the situation in Syria is likely to be resolved through diplomatic efforts, with 35% disagreeing. Speech-watchers were divided on whether Obama made a convincing case in his speech for U.S. military action in Syria, with 47% saying he did and 50% saying no.
10:26 p.m. ET - National Security Advisor Susan Rice tweets: "POTUS: when dictators commit atrocities, they depend upon the world to look the other way until those horrifying pictures fade from memory."
10:18 p.m. ET - CNN's John King tweets: "post #syria speech POTUS still faces #GOP #congress doubts: @ChuckGrassley says leaning no; @SenOrrinHatch still "strong reservations."
10:11 p.m. ET - CNN's Dan Merica tweets: "Another undecided D break Syria silence. MT @RepRickLarsen President takes diplomatic opening, Syria must match its words with deeds."
10:03 p.m. ET - Republican Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain issued a joint statement saying, "We appreciate the President speaking directly to the American people about the conflict in Syria. We regret, however, that he did not speak more forcefully about the need to increase our military assistance to moderate opposition forces in Syria, such as the Free Syrian Army. We also regret that he did not lay out a clearer plan to test the seriousness of the Russian and Syrian proposal to transfer the Assad regime's chemical weapons to international custody."
10:01 p.m. ET - Reacting to the speech, Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, who met with Vice President Joe Biden yesterday and with the president today on Capitol Hill said, "I don't think the case for military action has been made ... I'm still leaning against the authorization for the use of force that's been presented.
10 p.m. ET - CNN's Dan Merica tweets: "@ChrisMurphyCT, a Democratic senator who was against strikes from the beginning, tweets "Good speech. President right to delay vote."
9:59 p.m. ET - Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, tweets: "After this impassioned plea I cannot imagine Pres Obama not launching military strike if diplomacy fails, regardless of what Congress does.
"You cannot make moral case as the leader of the Free World and then refuse to act if diplomacy fails. #SyriaSpeech."
9:58 p.m. ET - Democratic Sen. Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, in a statement said "I believe Congress can best support the goal of a diplomatic solution by approving a resolution that authorizes the use of force if Syria refuses to give up its chemical weapons."
9:54 p.m. ET - Republican Sen. Rand Paul on CNN said he hopes the Russia/diplomatic option works because if we attack, Syria will be more unstable. Paul said the chance al Qaeda gains traction in the region increases if the United States attacks.
9:45 p.m. ET - The Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a left-leaning advocacy group that has been opposed to military action in Syria, responded to the address saying "public pressure worked."
"The American people knew that diplomacy was a credible and strategic option, and this great news from President Obama will be better for America and his presidency than dropping bombs on Syria," the group said in a statement.
9:43 p.m. ET - Republicans National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus responded to the president's address by saying, "The administration's handling of the U.S. response to Syria has been so haphazard it's disappointed even the president's most ardent supporters."
"This rudderless diplomacy has embarrassed America on the world stage. For a president who campaigned on building American credibility abroad, the lack of leadership coming from the Oval Office is astounding," Priebus added.
9:42 p.m. ET - House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, tweets: "Pres. Obama's leadership brought diplomatic solutions back to the table, shows his willingness to exhaust every remedy before use of force."
9:40 p.m. ET - CNN contributor Donna Brazile tweets: "POTUS must keep the threat of military action on the table until #Syria gives up its chemical weapons and an int'l team can verify. #peace."
9:31 p.m. ET - CNN Senior Political Analyst David Gergen tweets: "Very good Presidential speech -- crisp, clear, addressed doubts. Not sure enuf to to persuade anywhere close to majority. @AC360."
9:30 p.m. ET - Ari Fleischer, a spokesman for then-President George W. Bush and now a CNN contributor, tweets: "Assad denies using CW that O deplores. Putin sides w Assad. So O turns to Putin & Assad 2 get rid of weapons that weren't used."
9:28 p.m. ET - CNN's Jake Tapper tweets: "A speech to a public that doesn't want to go to war by a president who doesn't want to go to war."
9:24 p.m. ET - Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, who is still undecided on a military strike, said the president made a "great moral argument," especially when he said U.S. troops could be gassed. But he still has to make it clear that this will not "mushroom into something else."
9:19 p.m. ET - CNN's Jessica Yellin tweets: "American exceptionalism: @BarackObama often accused of apologizing for America, makes case for using America's mil might to defend values."
9:17 p.m. ET - White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz tweets: "President Obama: "The burdens of leadership are often heavy, but the world is a better place because we have borne them."
9:15 p.m. ET - Obama asks what kind of world we would live in if we watch a leader violate international law with poison gas and "look the other way."
9:14 p.m. ET - CNN's Jim Acosta tweets: "Obama confirms he's asked Congress to "postpone" a vote while Russia proposal takes its course."
9:13 p.m. ET - Obama said it's too early to tell if the latest diplomatic efforts will succeed, but there is now the possibility that Syria will be rid of chemical weapons "without force." As part of those efforts, he said he asked Congress to put off any votes on action and will send Kerry to meet with Lavrov this week.
9:12 p.m. ET - Obama said he agrees the US should not be the world's policeman and said he has a "deeply held preference for peaceful solutions." But the United States "does not do pinpriks."
9:08 p.m. ET - The White House tweets: "Obama: "I have spent 4.5 years trying to end wars---not start them. Our troops are out of Iraq. Our troops are coming home from Afghanistan."
9:09 p.m. ET - Addressing criticism of a potential strike, including one veteran that wrote to the president saying "this nation is sick and tired of war," Obama said he will "not put American boots on the ground," "not pursue an open ended action" and "not pursue a prolonged air campaign." Instead, it would be a "targeted strike."
9:07 p.m. ET - Obama said he determined the US should respond militarily to Assad to deter future action, degrade his ability and make clear the US will not tolerate their use. "That's my judgment as commander of chief," he said. But as president of the world's oldest constitutional democracy, he also felt it was right to bring the decision to Congress.
9:05 p.m. ET - Obama outlined the evidence that led to the conclusion that Assad used chemical. "These things happened. The facts cannot be denied." Now he said, the question is what the US and the international community is "prepared to do about it."
9:02 p.m. ET - Obama said he resisted calls for military action in Syria "because we cannot solve someone else's civil war through force." But the situation "profoundly changed on August 21st." He said the images were "sickening."
9:01 p.m. ET - Obama, standing in the East Room, says he will talk about Syria tonight "why it matters and where we go from here." over the past 2 years.
8:05 p.m. ET - @JohnKingCNN reports the president will not lay out a timetable for diplomacy or potential military action in his address tonight, according to a senior administration official involved in the speech process. The administration believes it can't make those calculations until the Kerry-Lavrov meeting Thursday, the initial eye-to-eye test of whether Russia and the Syrians are serious. Any discussion of when to schedule votes, this official said, should wait until the Kerry-Lavrov meeting, "which will give us a sense of what those alternative resolutions should look like."
The president, in his meeting with lawmakers today, said they should not do anything to take the credible military threat off the table.
7:45 p.m. ET - Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking at the National Constitution Center Tuesday night, said Assad's use of chemical weapons violates a universal norm at the heart of our global order that requires a "response from the international community led by the U.S."
"This debate is good for our Democracy," Clinton said in Philadelphia. "Fervent arguments are the lifeblood of self government."
7:38 p.m. ET - Sen. Manchin on @OutFrontCNN said there is less of a risk now from inaction than there would have been from a U.S. military strike on Syria. The moderate Democratic senator said he has always believed the U.S. should go down a "diplomatic course."
7:30 p.m. ET - @eliselabottcnn reports that when Secretary Kerry meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, he will begin to discuss a possible deal on Syria's chemical weapons, according to senior state department officials. Kerry will bring a team of experts with him for the talks, which begin Thursday and are expected to take place in several sessions over two days, the officials said. The officials cautioned the negotiations may not be concluded in Geneva during the first set of talks. The officials said a final deal, whenever it is reached, would then be taken to the United Nations to be enshrined in a Security Council resolution.
7:13 p.m ET - @barbarastarrcnn reports the Defense Department has not yet been involved in the turnover of chemical weapons by Syria, according to a senior US military official. However, military and civilian experts are informally looking at what they might do.
7:01 p.m. ET - Reports @JimAcostaCNN: In his speech tonight the president will address why the situation in Syria is in the US' national interests, why it is in the US' interests that Syrian President Assad be be held accountable for the use of chemical weapons, that the military response would be limited in duration and scope and that the White House sees a "diplomatic opportunity" in the recent Russian proposal for Syria to rid itself of its chemical weapons.
6:49 p.m. ET - @RickSantorum on @CrossfireCNN said the US has no national security interests in Syria. "There's a big difference between action and military action," Santorum said. "I'm for action, I'm just not for a military strike."
6:32 p.m. ET - Former Sen. Joe Lieberman on @CrossfireCNN said he wished the US "were not pausing" in Syria. He said the president made the right decision to draw the red line and was "disappointed when he decided to toss it to Congress."
6:28 p.m. ET - CNN's Adam Aigner-Treworgy tweets: "On @CNNSitRoom @jonfavs says to expect POTUS to speak for about 15 minutes."
6:28 p.m. ET - On @CNNSitRoom @jonfavs said Obama will be "firm" tonight in his remarks. "He'll make the case ... be passionate about what's at stake here."
6:25 p.m. ET -- @jonfavs, Obama's former speechwriter, told @wolfblitzercnn tonight's speech is "just about ready" and that the president often stays up "very late at night" making corrections himself.
6:23 p.m. ET - @LisaDCNN reports Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, on the Senate floor, said he's canceling the planned the planned briefings for senators Wednesday because there are too many moving targets.
6:07 p.m. ET - @deirdrewalshcnn asked Democratic Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, if the president gave a timeline for the diplomatic efforts under consideration.
"I don't know he put a specified period on it. He thought it could be fairly short, that it would be obvious. Fairly short period of time where it would be clear whether Russia is going to come through as they said they would, and whether Syria was going to get rid of their chemical weapons."
5:43 p.m. ET - @JimAcostaCNN reports on the president's meetings with Republican and Democratic senators today: "The President said his administration would spend the days ahead pursuing this diplomatic option with the Russians and our allies at the United Nations. In the meantime, the President said his administration would work with members of Congress on authorizing language," according to a White House official.
5:33 p.m. ET - Sen. Paul told @wolfblitzer "there's a potential" for these negotiations to have an impact on the chemical weapons in Syria, whereas military action would not.
5:29 p.m. ET - On @CNNSitRoom: Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul said one of the reasons diplomatic avenues are now being pursued is because "people like me prevented the use of force."
5:08 p.m. ET - CNN's Lisa Desjardins tweets: "FROM MOSCOW: Russian TV says that Syria is now ready to disclose all locations of chemical weapons stores, according to our Nick Paton Walsh."
4:56 p.m. ET - Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, was one of the senators who met with the president today. Responding to reporters on Capitol Hill, Manchin, who opposes the president's plan, said Obama wants to "keep his finger on the pulse if you will and on the trigger if needed."
4:40 p.m. ET - On @TheLeadCNN: Obama's task tonight, according to @David_Gergen: "easy speech to write" and a "hard speech to sell."
4:39 p.m. ET - On @TheLeadCNN: Michael Gerson, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, said President Obama needs to "establish his resolve" with tonight's speech and "hold out the possibility that things can get better through negotiation."
4:38 p.m. ET - CNN's Dana Bash tweets: "big pic takeaway from potus to senators in private lunches today: dont vote now b/c we need the threat of force & a failed vote would hurt."
Bash adds: "also told POTUS meeting w/ Senate Repubs wasnt political. V sober and respectful on both sides."
4:31 p.m. ET - On @TheLeadCNN: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat from Hawaii, who does not support the president's plan, said she supports the delay in the Senate vote and called today's diplomatic developments a "positive development."
4:29 p.m. ET - On @TheLeadCNN: Rep. Adam Kinzinger, a Republican from Illinois, who supports the president's plan for intervention in Syria, said there should be a timetable associated with diplomatic steps to ensure stall tactics are not being used.
4:24 p.m. ET - CNN's Lisa Desjardins tweets: "Russian withdrawal: Russia dropped its request for an emergency UN Security Council meeting due to 'changing circumstances' a UN source says."
4:18 p.m. ET - Eight additional countries signed on to the joint statement condemning the use of chemical weapons released during last week's G20 conference in Russia, according to the White House. The addition of Georgia, Guatemala, Kuwait, Malta, Montenegro, Panama, Poland and Portugal brings the total to 33 countries.
4:10 p.m. ET -- Tonight will be President Obama's 9th address to the nation and the 4th delivered from the East Room. Previous East Room addresses: after the raid that killed Osama bin Laden (5/1/11), to address the draw down of forces in Afghanistan (6/22/11) and to speak about the national deficit and the debt limit (7/25/11).
3:58 p.m. ET - @eliselabottcnn: Secretary of State Kerry will travel to Geneva on Thursday to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov to discuss Syria, according to a senior State Department official.
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