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Axelrod: Obama likely to address nation on Syria next week

Former Obama adviser David Axelrod on Friday predicted President Obama would make the case for a military strike on Syria in a major address next week. 

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Axelrod said Obama’s argument is needed to give cover to members of both the House and Senate who are skeptical of a limited military strike at the moment. 

“The president needs to make the case and give them the arguments and the cover, frankly, for a 'yes' vote,” he said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

Axelrod added that Obama needs to make the case and “make it on as big a stage as possible.” 

According to The Hill's Whip List for the vote, the resolution faces stiff opposition in the House and many members have predicted a tight vote in the Senate. 

Secretary of State John Kerry and Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) both hinted during hearings this week that Obama should address the nation in the coming week. 

Speaking to reporters Thursday, White House spokesman Ben Rhodes said a speech of some kind is “still under consideration.”

Axelrod predicted logistical issues will likely push that date until after next Monday when Congress is back in session. President Obama is currently in Russia on the final day of the G-20 summit. 

“I don’t expect that he will speak before that. He’s going to want Congress reassembled in town,” he said. 

Defining the consequences of the resolution failing in Congress as “very serious,” Axelrod said Obama will have to use the power of the office to win the vote. 

“He has the biggest megaphone and he can lift this issue and explain it in a way that no body else has the opportunity to do,” he said. “And he has to do that for this to be successful.”

If the White House could do it over, Axelrod said, it would likely have rolled out the decision to get approval from Congress sooner. 

“I think if you asked anybody in the White House if they could have it back, would he have signaled earlier that he was going to Congress? I think the answer is yes,” he said. “But the question now really isn’t what’s happened before. The question is what happens now.”

After the administration concluded that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime killed more than 1,400 people with chemical weapons, it appeared last week as though Obama would authorize a strike without Congress. Kerry made a series of speeches giving justification for the move.

But, according to reports, Obama decided at the last minute to take the proposal to Capitol Hill rather than merely consulting with congressional leadership.