TODAY   |  September 08, 2013

Gregory: Congress denying strike ‘would be a huge blow’ to Obama

David Gregory, moderator of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” said that the Obama administration’s bid for strikes on Syria is “a test for America right now in terms of our role in the world.” TODAY’s Craig Melvin interviews David Gregory.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> david gregory is moderator of "meet the press." david, good morning to you, sir.

>> good morning, craig.

>> we heard from peter that the president is going to be picking up the phone, personally calling members of congress. take us inside that lobbying effort. what can president obama say? what is president obama perhaps going to be saying to members of congress in an attempt to win congressional support?

>> i think it's a limited messa message. i think he's saying, look, we can't allow chemical attacks to go on. and have them unpunished. even in a civil war , this crosses a red line . the president's own red line . these are too grave circumstances to go unpunished. i think the follow-up will be, and understand what i'm saying, i don't want to intervene in the war. i want to limit it to that, but we have to send a very strong message.

>> to win support, the white house has launched a very aggressive campaign, a pr campaign, a lobbying campaign, six interviews tomorrow, the prime time address on tuesday. there are some who are saying this politically is about more than syria. that if the president loses, this may be a hit from which his administration cannot recover. is that an accurate assessment or an exaggeration?

>> when the president goes to congress to get authority the to strike another country militarily and he doesn't get it, that would be a huge blow. so it's an enormous test to the presidency. it's an enormous test for his political standing as he tries to get other things done. but it's also a test for america right now in terms of our role in the world, and i think the president's trying to make the case he wants to do something that's very limited in nature. americans are saying, hey, wait a minute, why are we going to go start another war? i think that's a perception a lot of people have. and how do you limit what the united states does? i think that's the real skepticism he's up against.

>> if the president, david, does not win congressional approval, what's the likelihood that he orders a strike anyway?

>> i don't know the answer to that and i don't think anybody does. the president's made a couple of things clear. he doesn't need congress' authority to act. that's his view. second is, he's made the case to say that america's credibility is on the line. he's made references to the holocaust during world war ii . he's created an imperative to act that i think has put him in a real predicament even if congress says no.

>> david gregory , a big thank you to you, sir, on