Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, are headlining a rally Wednesday at the U.S. Capitol that is becoming the beachhead of those opposing the Iran nuclear deal.
Congress will begin debating the Iran nuclear arms agreement soon after it returns to work this week. The White House already is claiming an early victory by securing enough Senate pledges to ensure a GOP-led blockage of the deal would not override a presidential veto. And as of Tuesday, there were 41 Democratic Senate votes against the bill – enough for a filibuster – to prevent a Senate vote altogether.
Undeterred, a large and vocal opposition to the deal led by the tea party, pro-Israel forces, evangelicals and hard-line conservatives is agitating before the Sept. 17 deadline for Congress to act.
In addition to the high-profile Trump, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, also has signed up to speak at the “Stop the Iran Deal” rally.
According to Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder and national coordinator of the Tea Party Patriots, which is co-sponsoring the rally with the Center for Security Policy and the Zionist Organization of America, the 1 p.m. EDT event has grown from one hour in duration to more than two hours.
Conservative talk show favorites Glenn Beck and Mark Levin as well as several GOP lawmakers, including Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, are in the lineup. Martin said she has gotten more than 70 requests from people who want to speak.
Sen. Ted Cruz was the original headliner of Wednesday’s rally but then decided to invite Donald Trump to boost media attention.
Trump, the billionaire developer who has vaulted to the top of the race for the Republican presidential nomination, often talks about the Iran nuclear arms deal.
“That agreement is a disaster – for this country, for Israel, for the Middle East,” Trump said at a press conference last week. “It’s going to lead to nuclear proliferation.”
The author of “The Art of the Deal” is also trying to score political points. “You say, who negotiates a deal like that? That won’t happen, I can guarantee you, with a President Trump.”
However, Trump said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Friday that unlike other GOP opponents of the deal, including Cruz, he would not “repudiate” the Iran deal if he were president but would work to improve it.
“I do like to buy bad contracts,” he said.
Cruz was the original headliner of the rally but then decided to invite Trump to boost media attention. The Texas senator has featured the Iran nuclear deal in his campaign stump speech.
When Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. announced last month that he would oppose the deal, Cruz embraced the move.
“It is my hope and prayer that in the coming weeks we see more and more Democrats who make the decision to put the national security of the United States of America, to put standing with our friend and ally the nation of Israel, and to put the safety and security of millions of Americans above partisan loyalty to the Obama White House,” Cruz said.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., on Tuesday announced that he, too, was opposed to the Iran deal, joining Democratic Sens. Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Ben Cardin of Maryland and Schumer.
But Sen. Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., was confident Tuesday in a speech at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, saying that the Democrats supporting the deal would be able to filibuster the resolution against it.
“And today I am gratified to say to my fellow Americans, our negotiating partners and our allies around the world: This agreement will stand. America will uphold its commitment and we will seize this opportunity to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon,” said Reid.
Cruz has criticized the deal as unenforceable.
Have any of y’all seen the movie ‘Scarface?’ This is the equivalent of law enforcement picking up the phone and calling Tony Montana and saying, ‘Hey Tony, you got any drugs?’ ‘I don’t got no drugs.’ ‘Thank you, Tony.’ That is essentially the Iranian nuclear inspection regime.
Sen. Ted Cruz
“Every observer knows that this president is not willing to use force, military or otherwise, to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons,” Cruz said last week on Fox News. “The Democratic senators know full well that there is no credible threat of military action by the Obama presidency.”
Americans are divided.
The Republican-controlled House of Representatives is poised to pass a bill that disapproves the Iran deal.
House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said the lower chamber will vote on the Republican-crafted resolution this week, apparently starting debate Wednesday and voting by Friday.
“This is a bad deal for our country and for our allies,” said McCarthy.
In the Senate, enough Democrats so far are backing the deal to save it regardless of public opinion. Obama already had enough votes to sustain a veto should the bill get through and to the White House.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said in a statement that Obama “may be able to sustain a veto with the tepid, restricted and partisan support” of a congressional minority. He added that lawmakers would then have to “stand up to the inevitable Iranian violations of the agreement that will need to be addressed after he has left office.”
The Tea Party Patriots’ Martin, who has also organized rallies targeted at individual lawmakers, is not conceding defeat. The Capitol rally is “absolutely still necessary.”
“If senators hear from their own constituents, they may reconsider,” she said.