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TODAY   |  September 09, 2013

Chuck Todd: Obama administration ‘very worried’

NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd says that Obama and his administration are “very concerned” that losing this battle with Congress for a strike in Syria could be crippling to his effectiveness.

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

>> chuck todd is nbc's chief white house correspondent and political director. good morning to you.

>> good morning, sir.

>> the president is going to be taking his case to the american public, a series of interviews with networks and speech to the nation. he'll be talking to members of congress. how worried are they?

>> very worried. if you look at the public relations campaign going on over the last 48 hours and the next 48 hours , they're rolling out hilary clinton to say something. she coming to the white house for another event but she is now going to talk about syria because they're trying to lobby democrats. you the president doing the interviews today and the speech to the nation tomorrow. you have dennis mcdonough doing what he did yesterday and all the talk shows . it's not that they believe they need congress on this and want to punish assad and syria policy but a loss like this could be politically crippling to him all over washington on all the different battles he has coming in the next six months.

>> as you say that, let me ask you this, if the numbers, they're all over the place but they are leaning heavily against an air strike in congress, is there an escape hatch for the president? is there a way for him to save face politically if this vote goes against him?

>> there's a couple of ways. we already heard john kerry , the ultimatum. that's another way of buying time. the french already said -- who are supposedly going to be with the united states if an attack happens said let's delay an attack and wait for the united nations . if they know they're going tlo lose, a call to wait for the united nations investigation to be complete and the whole report come out. that's one way to delay. the other option is finding a way to pass something in both houses. even if they don't match. they don't ever try to bring them together but then they can say well, we got some support to do something.

>> real quickly, this final push to change opinion in congress and in the american public. do you think the centerpiece of the president's comments will be if we let syria get away with it, watch out for iran ?

>> i don't think the iran argument is going to be effective with the public. however i think the iran argument is effective politically in capitol hill . you can bring in israel if you consider yourself a proisrael member of congress you should vote for this. the patriotism pitch we heard, it is america's duty to do this whether we like it or not, that's what the public is going to hear tuesday night.

>> chuck todd , thanks as always.