President Obama on Wednesday linked congressional Republicans opposed to his nuclear deal with Tehran to Iranian hardliners who chant “death to America,” suggesting both want to torpedo the accord. Insisting America takes certain “offensive” and “incendiary” remarks emanating from parts of Iran seriously, Obama said the U.S. “should not act impulsively in response to taunts.”
“Just because Iranian hardliners chant ‘death to America’ does not mean that that’s what all Iranians believe,” Obama said to applause during his speech at American University.
“In fact, it’s those hardliners who are the most comfortable with the status quo. It’s those hardliners chanting ‘death to America’ who have been most opposed to the deal. They are making a common cause with the Republican caucus,” Obama said.
Many Americans have remained skeptical about the Iran deal and have pointed to the spattering of anti-American chants as evidence the U.S. shouldn’t be engaged with Tehran. Secretary of State John Kerry, a top negotiator for the deal on behalf of the U.S., said last month that he had told his Iranian counterparts the chants were “not helpful” and “pretty stupid.”
Obama’s speech Wednesday is part of a full-court effort on the part of his administration to win over skeptical Democrats to support the deal amid a 60-day congressional review period. The president compared a vote on the Iran deal as the most consequential since lawmakers voted to authorize the Iraq War over a decade ago, casting the vote as a decision between the deal and war.