The selling of the administration’s case behind closed doors is already in full swing. Vice President Joe Biden hosted lawmakers in the Situation Room on Friday to make the case for intervention. He followed that up with a dinner Sunday to pitch some Senate Republicans on the administration’s plans. Obama and other officials have been working the phones with lawmakers and important caucuses, as well. McDonough held conference calls with the Congressional Progressive Caucus and Hispanic Caucus last week; Rice briefed members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Still, there is grumbling on Capitol Hill about the White House’s scattershot outreach. It did not go unnoticed, for instance, that President Obama golfed on Saturday with his usual cohort of friends and aides, rather than any wavering lawmakers.
Rep. Adam Kingziner, R-Ill., who is in favor of a strike, said on ABC’s This Week that his offer earlier in the week to help round up votes had gone unacknowledged. “I haven’t heard back from the White House yet,” Kinzinger said. “I don’t even know who my White House liaison is.”
Joining the White House this week in lobbying Capitol Hill will be the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the powerful pro-Israel lobby that is in favor of a strike on Syria. That effort is seen as critical to uniting war-weary Democrats and some more hawkish Republicans who have expressed skepticism about Obama’s proposed strikes.
“There’s no question when you get a call from the president or you get lobbied by campaign contributors, those things have an impact,” Sanders said.