WASHINGTON - White House efforts to convince the US Congress to back military action against Syria are not only failing, they seem to be stiffening the opposition.
That was the assessment on Sunday, not of an opponent but of an early and ardent Republican supporter of Obama's plan for attacking Syria, the influential Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee, Mike Rogers.
Rogers told CBS's "Face the Nation" the White House had made a "confusing mess" of the Syria issue. Now, he said, "I'm sceptical myself."
Congress will be in session on Monday for the first time since the August recess. Debate on Syria could begin in the full Senate this week, with voting as early as Wednesday. The House of Representatives could take up the issue later this week or next.
Obama is expected to spend the next several days in personal meetings with members.
Some Democratic opponents of a military strike, meanwhile, were looking for a way to spare Obama's administration the effects of a "no" vote.
Representative Jim McGovern of Massachusetts suggested that the president withdraw his request before it is defeated, saying on CNN's "State of the Union" that there was insufficient support for it in Congress.
There are no signs that Obama is considering that, but speculation about the possibility that the administration might delay a vote surfaced on Sunday when Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking in Paris after meeting Arab foreign ministers, did not rule out returning to the United Nations Security Council to secure a Syria resolution.