Foreign policy gamble

President Obama waiting on Congress' Syria decision


This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," September 6, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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INGRAHAM: In the "Impact Segment" tonight, President Obama took a huge political gamble when he decided to ask Congress for its support of a military strike against Syria. Well now, along with the serious head counting, there must be some serious hand-wringing at the White House because the votes aren't there yet. Members of Congress are hearing it from their constituents big time.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I am unalterably opposed to having a single American boot on the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not good enough.


MCCAIN: And there is no contemplation of putting a single American service man and woman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can say that now but when --

MCCAIN: There is not, I'm telling you there is not, I'm telling you there is not sir. So that -- that is not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Never go what they plan.

MCCAIN: That is not an argument we can have, it's not going to happen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We cannot afford to turn Syria into another Iraq or Afghanistan. I beg you.


INGRAHAM: And now there is word from the White House that President Obama will not strike if Congress votes down the resolution.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Has the President decided what he will do if the Congress votes no on using force?

TONY BLINKEN, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: You know Steve, when -- after the events of August 21st we reached out to Congress and we had conversations with members of Congress across the country. And the one thing we heard from nearly all of them was that they wanted their voice heard and their vote counted.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just a couple seconds here will he strike?

BLINKEN: The President of course has the authority to act but it's neither his desire nor his intention to use that authority absent Congress backing him.


INGRAHAM: It's not his intention. Listen to that language.

Joining us now the latest prognostication and what it may mean for the Obama presidency is Larry Sabato the director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia and the author of the book "The Kennedy Half Century". And here in the studio with me is Michael Scherer the Washington Bureau chief for "Time" magazine.

Michael, let's start with you. This is interesting -- a lot of interesting bedfellows in this -- in this debate over Syria. I mean, when I wake up and open the newspaper and I'm agreeing with Maureen Dowd and Charlie Rangel then that's an interesting bipartisan issue. What does it look like now with these votes, especially let's start in the House?

MICHAEL SCHERER, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "TIME" MAGAZINE: It looks bad for the President. You know right now there are whip counts out there. If you include people who are leaning against voting that already have this going down. Now, the President has been away for weeks and he's going to comeback he's going to have another chance to make his case both to the country on Tuesday night and individually with members of Congress. Nancy Pelosi has been very effective so far in keeping a lot of House Democrats quiet on this. And I think she still has significant sway with even some of the ones --

INGRAHAM: This is unlike I think something -- this is unlike something like I have ever seen before really in Washington. I have been here a long time. You were probably back in elementary school when I first came to Washington.

But Kendrick Meeks, during one of the hearings this week, he was just brutal in the questioning of John Kerry, and he's obviously a member of the Black Congressional Caucus, staunch liberal; other liberals speaking up bucking Pelosi on this.

SCHERER: That's right.

INGRAHAM: I think over the last week they've lost ground. They haven't gained ground in the House of Representatives. They are losing it day by day.

SCHERER: I think that's absolutely right. They have lost ground this week. Now the question is when Obama is back in town and when the members of Congress are all together and Pelosi can get him in a caucus room whether he can gain some of that ground back. But you know clearly they look like they are in a worst position now than they were three -- three days ago.

INGRAHAM: Larry, let's go to you on this. I mean I see -- I see this as something totally wild. Ok the President always talks about the need for bipartisanship. This is one of those rare instances where you have real bipartisan agreement overwhelming in the country and I think in the House of Representatives moving in that direction. Where do you see this going now given the high stakes game at play?

LARRY SABATO, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR POLITICS, UVA: Yes he said he would bring us together and now he has. So there is some bipartisanship here. And look, Laura, it's actually a good thing to have a scrambling of the lines.


INGRAHAM: Finally.

SABATO: It's great to see Democrats and Republicans working together whether it's for or against. But you know let me make a key point to you, or what I think is a key point, Laura that people are overlooking. The reason why the Senate is likely to approve the resolution is because two- thirds of the senators aren't up until 2016 or 2018, whereas 100 percent of the House members are up in 2014, even the ones in safe districts have to worry about party primaries. That's why, that's one of the reasons why they are so skeptical of this Syria adventure.

INGRAHAM: And Professor, I saw that Paul Ryan wasn't all too eager to come out and talk about this "Well, I'm still examining the facts." That's after Boehner rushes out to the cameras after that one meeting with Obama before we heard anything from Kerry, anything from Dempsey, any of the testimony this week -- he rushes out and gives political cover to the President. Meanwhile the boards are lighting down on Capitol Hill.

I mean they are melting down those phone lines and apparently they're like 95 to 1 against in Democratic and Republican offices. How often does that happen?

SABATO: It's very, very rare. And I'll tell you another thing. Leaders on both sides are finding it's really tough to get followers this time around. For example not just Boehner but also Majority Leader Eric Cantor endorsed this resolution. Well there are -- there are seven other Republican House members from Virginia. Guess how many he's carried with him so far? Zero -- zero in his own state.


INGRAHAM: Michael, if indeed the House votes this down as it looks like today they would. Where does the President go from here? I mean we have big issues -- immigration, debt ceiling -- how does this bleed into that and as our friends over at Politico wrote this week this could be draining whatever political capital he has left on those big questions, his credibility.

SCHERER: I think if he gets this it could help him in those areas. If it doesn't get it I'm not it hurts him that much, it's not like there are a bunch of Republicans who are suddenly going to hate him more because of this vote. He didn't have those votes on debt ceiling anyway. I think you know if he gets it though, then he may get a vote in which Boehner is going to break the Hastert rule and majority of Republicans will vote against something that passes the house. That's actually a good precedent for the President going into immigration and debt ceiling.

And I think the city (ph) that was still so divided that the chances of him really losing political capital going forward beyond what he has already lost are pretty slim.

INGRAHAM: All right it's great to see you both. Thanks so much.

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