Debate over Syria strike dominates "Face the Nation"

(CBS News) "Charlie Rose has just interviewed Syrian president Bashar al-Assad," Bob Schieffer announced, Sunday on "Face the Nation."

"[Assad] denied that he had anything to do with the attack, he denied that he knew, in fact, that there was a chemical attack," Charlie Rose told Schieffer in a telephone interview. "There is a clear sense that they are closely watching what has happened in Washington," Rose explained, adding Assad seemed "calm" and "knew the situation he was in."

News of Rose's interview--Assad's first with an American television network in nearly two years--was picked up by Al Jazeera, Politico, Deadline, The New York Times, USA Today, Bloomberg, Mediate, The Daily Beast, Yahoo News, Media Bistro, The Washington Post, Haaretz, Salon, CBC, The National Review and The Times of Israel. Excerpts of Rose's rare interview aired Monday on CBS This Morning.

After hearing Rose's report, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough responded, "I think the most important thing is what Charlie just said... that Assad is clearly watching, closely watching what is happening in Washington."

The administration has "every confidence" that Congress will approve a limited strike in Syria, McDonough said.

"If they want to hold Assad to account for carrying out this attack using poison gasses, chemical weapons to kill upwards of 400 children," he said, "then they have to vote yes on this resolution." The National Review has more on our conversation with McDonough.

Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., a supporter of the strikes, said the administration still has a long way to go gathering congressional votes.

"It's an uphill slog from here," The House Intelligence Committee Chairman said. "It's very clear he's lost support in the last week," he added.

"Candidly, [they] have done an awful job explaining to the American people what is in our national security interests in any level of engagement in a place like Syria." MLive has a round-up of our conversation with the Michigan Republican. Reuters and The Washington Post included Rogers' take in Syria coverage Sunday.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., in a joint appearance with Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., agreed that administration has to prove that Syria is a "core national security interest.'' Cummings remains undecided on U.S. military intervention in Syria.

"If we go in and we find ourselves mired in a civil war," Cummings told host Bob Schieffer, "what does that do?'' The Wall Street Journal has analysis of our interview with Rep. Cummings.

Both Cummings and Amash voiced concern over the overwhelming disapproval for strikes among their constituents.

"When you're dealing with an issue like war," Amash said, "you must take into consideration what the public thinks. You're asking people to possibly send their loved ones into harm's way."

"Based on the objectives that the administration has laid out, based on the strategy they've laid out," Amash continued, "I can't come up with a reason right now why the United States should support this action." You can read more about our conversation with Rep. Amash at Newsmax and The Detroit News.


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