Republican presidential candidates almost universally came out on Tuesday against the Obama administration’s nuclear deal with Iran.
Following the announcement of a joint nuclear agreement among Iran and world powers, the 2016 Republican field sounded off in lockstep opposition to the deal.
Though the candidates who offered opinions unanimously denounced the deal, their responses varied on nuance. Some candidates cited specific concessions in the deal, and others faulted the administration for negotiating with Iran in the first place.
Some notable exceptions didn’t immediately offer a reaction: Sens. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas), along with real-estate magnate Donald Trump.
Here’s how they each reacted to the deal:
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R)
Walker railed against the Obama administration’s agreement with one of the most forceful statements on the deal, calling it one of America’s “worst diplomatic failures.”
‘The deal rewards the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism with a massive financial windfall, which Iran will use to further threaten our interests and key allies, especially Israel,” Walker said.
Walker also hinted that if he wins the White House, he would not be “bound” by the deal.
“Iran’s Supreme Leader should know that a future American president will not be bound by this diplomatic retreat,” Walker said. “Undoing the damage caused by this deal won’t be easy. But when the United States leads, and has a president who isn’t eager to embrace Iran, the world will follow.”
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R)
Ahead of the deal’s announcement, Bush tweeted Monday night that the Obama administration’s negotiation strategy with Iran “is called appeasement.”
In an interview with The Wall Street Journal on Friday, Bush said that the Obama administration was trying to cloak its argument in technical, nuanced language to hide a bad deal.
“This is the game that the Obama administration spokespeople play, that unless you’re for their nuanced, sophisticated, trust-me-I’m-just-smarter-than-the-rest-of-us kind of view, then you’re a war monger,” Bush said on Friday.
“I think it is based on the naïve belief that the Mullahs will go quietly into the night, and the dictatorships once you make major concessions to them will recognise the errors of their way that they will liberate their own people, that they will change their behaviours in the region,” Bush said.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida)
Rubio, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, lashed out at the Obama administration for negotiating with a regime that the senator sees as consistently trying to undermine the US.
“President Obama has consistently negotiated from a position of weakness, giving concession after concession to a regime that has American blood on its hands, holds Americans hostage, and has consistently violated every agreement it ever signed,” Rubio said.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R)
Christie used a brief statement to bash Obama over what Christie perceives as weakness in the administration’s Middle East policy.
“After two years of humiliating concessions by President Obama, he has made a deal with Iran,” Christie said in a statement on Tuesday. “He should have walked away.”
“Iran joins the sad list of countries where America’s red lines have ben crossed,” Christie added, referencing Obama’s reluctance to follow through with his promise to hold Syria’s regime to a “red line” in 2013 and ultimately backing off airstrikes.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R)
The former Fox News host echoed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, emphasising that the deal would be harmful to Israel.
As president, I will stand with Israel and keep all options on the table, including military force, to topple the terrorist Iranian regime.
— Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) July 14, 2015
Shame on the Obama admin for agreeing to a deal that empowers an evil Iranian regime to carry out its threat to “wipe Israel off the map.”
— Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) July 14, 2015
Earlier in the week, Huckabee tried to draw historic Cold War parallels by releasing a remake of President Lyndon Johnson’s famous 1964 “Daisy” campaign advertisement.
Huckabee’s ad cites a nuclear threat to Israel, showing a mushroom cloud and then cutting to text that reads, “A threat to Israel is a threat to America.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina)
In an interview on MSNBC, Graham said that although he shares Obama’s goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon, the administration’s current deal won’t keep a nuke out of Iran’s hands.
“You’ve ensured that the Arabs will go nuclear. You’ve put Israel in the worst possible box. This will be a death over time sentence to Israel if they don’t push back,” Graham said. “You put our nation at risk.”
Appearing on CBS on Tuesday, Fiorina said that the Obama administration was not sufficiently suspicious of Iranian intentions.
“Iran has demonstrated bad behaviour for 30 years,” said Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO. “We know they have been trying to cheat on this deal. We know they have been funding proxies with a strategic objective of destabilizing the region. We know that when sanctions are lifted, they will have more money to fund those same proxies.”
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