Republican opponents of the Iran deal are urging their colleagues to oppose it, arguing that the next president – even if it’s a Democrat – will be able to secure a better deal than President Obama.
On Thursday, two Republican 2016 contenders got to tip their hand at just what they’d do about Iran’s nuclear ambitions if they had a White House perch. They spoke during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing to grill Secretary of State John Kerry, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew on Iran.
Kerry and his compatriots haven’t been very successful drawing support for the deal in their first 24 hours pressing their case on Capitol Hill. But Thursday’s exchanges ended with Kerry more or less shutting down a line of argument from each GOP hopeful.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) went first, and struck an assertive tone, telling Obama’s Cabinet members that the next president – hint hint – would be within his or her rights to rip up the whole agreement.
“It’s important for the world and especially Iran to understand that this is a deal whose survival is not guaranteed beyond the term of the current president,” Rubio said – taking care not to refer to himself by pronoun or name – and reminded administration officials that even they didn’t expect a majority of Congress to back the deal.
“Even if this deal narrowly avoids congressional defeat, the Iranian regime and world should know this deal is your deal with Iran, meaning yours — this administration — and the next president is under no legal or moral obligation to live up to it,” Rubio went on. “The deal can go away the day president Obama leaves office.”
With that much established, the Florida senator moved to lay a prime political trap for the Cabinet secretaries, asking if the “cooperation” provisions would compel the United States to protect Iran’s nuclear program against any sabotage attempts by Israel and other countries.
“No,” Moniz answered flatly. So did Kerry.
“That’s not how I read this,” Rubio replied. And Kerry, seizing the break in Rubio’s argument, took control of the conversation.
“I listened to a long list of your objections here about [the deal], but there’s no alternative that you or anybody else has proposed,” Kerry said, disregarding Rubio’s attempt to interject.
“And I am confident that the next president of the United States will have enough common sense that if this is being applied properly, if it’s being implemented fully, they’re not just going to arbitrarily end it,” Kerry continued. “If you think the ayatollah’s going to come back and negotiate again with an American, that’s fantasy. You’re never going to see that because we will have proven we’re not trustworthy.”
Rubio never really got more than another few words in edgewise.
SOURCE: Karoun Demirjian
The Washington Post