WASHINGTON -- Battling stiff resistance in Congress, President Barack Obama conceded Monday night that he might lose his fight for congressional support of a military strike against Syria, and declined to say what he would do if lawmakers reject his call to back retaliation for an alleged chemical weapons attack last month.
In a series of six network interviews planned as part of a furious lobbying campaign in Congress, Mr. Obama said statements suggesting that Syria might agree to surrender control of its chemical weapons stockpile were a potentially positive development. At the same time, he said they were yet another reason for lawmakers to give him the backing he is seeking. "If we don't maintain and move forward with a credible threat of military pressure, I do not think we will actually get the kind of agreement I would like to see," he said on CNN.
In a separate interview with NBC, the president took the step -- unusual for any politician -- of conceding that he may lose his campaign in Congress for legislation authorizing a military strike. "I wouldn't say I'm confident" of the outcome, he said.
"I think it's fair to say that I haven't decided" on a next step if Congress turns its back, the president told NBC, part of a furious lobbying campaign to win support from dubious lawmakers as well as a war-weary public.
The president picked up a smattering of support but also suffered a reversal when Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., announced that he had switched from a backer of military action to an opponent.
"They're in tough shape. It is getting late," said Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., after he and other lawmakers emerged from a closed-door meeting with administration officials. He favors the legislation Mr. Obama wants, but he said the president didn't need to seek it and now must show that a strike "is in America's national security interest."