White House: Obama weighing Oval Office address on Syria

President Obama is weighing an Oval Office address to explain to the American people why a U.S. military strike in Syria is in the best interests of the nation.

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Speaking to reporters en route to the G-20 Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, on Thursday, White House spokesman Ben Rhodes said a speech of some kind is “still under consideration.”

On Wednesday, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said an Oval Office address by the president was a necessary step before U.S. involvement in a foreign civil war, and predicted Obama would make the address “later this week.”

An ABC News/Washington Post poll released earlier this week shows the public is strongly against any kind of intervention in Syria, with majorities of Republicans and Democrats saying they oppose air strikes against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime and arming the rebel forces.

However, support for an air strike would improve dramatically if the U.S. could get some allies on board.

Rhodes said the president would meet with foreign leaders at the G-20 Summit to “explain our current thinking,” and to explore what kind of “political and diplomatic support they may express for our efforts to hold the Syrian regime accountable.”

Still, Rhodes says opposition to a strike by Russian President Vladimir Putin — whose nation has military ties to Syria and claims U.S. intelligence on chemical weapons in the country is wrong — is giving cover to those countries still unsure about whether to back a U.S.-led strike.

“We would not anticipate every member of the G-20 agreeing about the way forward in Syria, particularly given the Russian position,” Rhodes said.

Rhodes slammed Putin’s claims that there is no evidence the Assad regime used chemical weapons against its own people, saying the U.S. would not “entertain implausible theories” in an effort to court Putin’s support.

“We’ll continue to discuss with the Russians what our evidentiary basis is and what our — our degree of confidence in the fact that the Assad regime carried this out,” he said. 

“But again, what we do not want to see is some ongoing debate about whether or not a chemical weapons attack took place that everybody saw with their own eyes on Aug. 21 and similarly, we don’t want to entertain implausible theories.”