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With public opinion and Congressional momentum against him, President Obama attempted to recalibrate expectations and redouble his sales effort for targeted military strikes, during a press conference Friday in Russia after a meeting of the G-20.
He made clear that his priority was winning support for strikes from a majority in Congress, even if a majority of the American people do not back the effort. “It’s conceivable that at the end of the day, I don’t persuade a majority of the American people that it’s the right thing to do. And then each member of Congress is gonna have to decide,” Obama said, noting that he was aware of recent polls showing broad opposition to strikes. “Ultimately, you listen to your constituents, but you’ve also got to make some decisions about what you believe is right for America.”
On Tuesday, Obama plans to take his case directly to the American people, with an address from the White House. “Our polling operations are pretty good, you know, I tend to have a pretty good sense of what current popular opinion is,” he said. “ For the American people who have been through over a decade of war now with enormous sacrifice—and blood and treasure—any hint of further military entanglements in the Middle East are going to be viewed with suspicion.”