Nightly News   |  September 06, 2013

Obama makes the case for Syria action

President Obama announced that he will address the nation on the eve of the 12th anniversary of 9/11 to explain why he thinks the U.S. should intervene in the Syrian civil war. NBC’s Chuck Todd reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> good evening. we learned today that on the eve of the 12th anniversary of 9/11, on the eve the senate vote, the president will address the nation tuesday to make his case to the american people to launch a limited military strike against syria. as to just how limited, we learned more on that front today on the possible scope of this attack. in a moment, what we found out today when we found americans if they support the president on this. but we want to begin with our white house correspondent chuck todd who filed tonight's report prior to flying back with the president from russia .

>> reporter: it was a beleaguered but still determined president obama making his case for military strikes in syria.

>> i was elected to end wars, not start them. but what i also know is that there are times when we have to make hard choices.

>> reporter: the president acknowledged he has a difficult road ahead winning public support.

>> it seems as if the more you pressure case, the more john kerry presses the case on your behalf, the more the opposition grows.

>> this is hard, and i was under no illusions when i embarked on this path. but i think it's the right thing to do.

>> reporter: but he urged members of congresses to put america's national interest above political concerns.

>> each member of congress is going to have to decide if i think it's the right thing to do for america's national security and the world's national security , then how do i vote?

>> reporter: and previewing an argument he'll make tuesday, he reminded the public that, like it or not, sometimes the u.s. does have to be the world's policemen.

>> there are going to be times, though, where, as is true here, the international community is stuck. and if that's the case, people are going to look to the united states and say, what are you going to do about it?

>> reporter: before leaving russia , the president finally had a short, last-minute one-on-one meeting with russian president vladimir putin .

>> it was a candid and constructive conversation, which characterizes my relationship with him.

>> reporter: still, throughout this press conference, the president kept coming back to the same horrific images of the attack.

>> over 1,400 people were gassed. over 400 of them children. delivering chemical weapons against children is not something we do.

>> reporter: the next 96 hours convincing congress and the american public are going to be some of the most difficult of obama's presidency. chuck todd , nbc news, st. petersburg, russia .