President Obama never considered scrapping his address to the nation on Syria Tuesday night, despite the rapidly changing diplomatic situation.
"We never considered canceling," White House press secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday. "The president believed it was a useful thing to do to have the opportunity to speak to the American people."
Carney said that top administration officials did not even hold a meeting to weigh canceling the speech, despite Syria's offer to put its chemical weapons under international control.
The president had originally planned the prime-time address to rally public and congressional support behind legislation authorizing the use of force against Syria. After laying out the case for military action, Obama said he was asking congressional leaders to pause a vote so he could pursue a diplomatic solution instead.
Carney said the White House felt it was "still very important for the president to speak to the American people about what he views to be necessary in response to this appalling attack by the Syrian regime against its own people."
Obama also wanted to "put forward to the American people the context of this discussion from his point of view as commander in chief and president, and to explain also the now-potential diplomatic avenue that has been opened that could allow us to resolve this without resorting to military force," Carney said.
A CNN survey of those who watched the speech found that 61 percent of Americans said they supported the president's position on Syria. But at the same time, 50 percent of those surveyed said that the president failed to make a compelling case for military action.
Carney said that the White House viewed the speech as important because, in an increasingly fractured media environment, they felt the president hadn't yet had the opportunity to make his case to many voters.
"Gone are the days when even a speech like that is seen by the vast majority of Americans," Carney said. "And we will continue to have this discussion, as we have over the last several days, as the president has through interviews, in the days ahead."