(NATIONAL REVIEW) Right now, the number of House Republicans planning to back the Syria resolution is stuck at about two dozen, according to the unofficial count several aides are keeping. “We’re not counting for the conference, but some of us are keeping tallies, and it’s looking horrible,” says a source within the leadership’s circle. “I’d say 30 to 40 Republicans, at most, are privately supportive.”
In the coming days, insiders say, the number could tick up or down. Any fluctuation, however, will be based almost entirely on how the top players influence their colleagues. Since the leadership isn’t formally whipping, member-to-member consultation is critical — and the following Republicans are jostling behind the scenes to shape the cloakroom debate.
Cantor is coordinating the effort to boost Republican support. Ever since he endorsed a military strike, in a statement last week, he has been working the phones and softly selling the merits of intervention. Last Wednesday, he participated in a conference call with House GOP freshmen in which he outlined his position and analyzed the Syrian crisis. One Republican who is opposed tells me the call was “instructive, candid, and may have changed a few minds.” A day later, Cantor invited Eric Edelman and Stephen Hadley, two former advisers from George W. Bush’s administration, to brief Republican staffers. And on Friday, Cantor published an op-ed in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. His pitch: Syria is more than a civil war; it’s a proxy war for Iran that demands engagement.