In the latest sign that GOP primary politics are colliding rather loudly with the politics of international engagement designed to curb Iran’s nuclear program, newly-minted presidential candidate Marco Rubio has confirmed in an interview with NPR that he would cancel any Iran nuclear deal, even if our European allies want the deal to continue.

After Rubio confirmed that he’d “simply reimpose the sanctions” that Obama would have lifted as part of any deal, the following exchange happened:

QUESTION: The deal is made. It’s made not just with the United States, but with the European allies. Would you move forward with re-imposing sanctions even if the Europeans don’t go along with it?
RUBIO: Yes, it wouldn’t be as effective, obviously…the Europeans are going to have a test anyway because the Iranians are going to violate the sanctions at some point. They’re going to evade it either by trying to take advantage of loopholes in the deal, or they’ll just flat out evade it because they’ve always had a secret component to their program. And at that point, they’re going to have a huge test on their hands, which is, are they willing to live by the agreement that they even signed on to?
But from the United States’ perspective, while we want our allies to join us in this endeavor, and certainly sanctions against Iran would be more effective were they in conjunction with our allies around the world, we have to look out for our own national security concerns. And in my mind, if the president wanted this to be a permanent deal that survived his presidency, he would have brought it to Congress.

In this, Rubio joins fellow GOP presidential hopeful Scott Walker, who also says he’d “absolutely” undo an Iran deal even if our European allies want it to continue. In fairness, Rubio addressed this topic with more nuance than Walker did; Rubio conceded that abruptly pulling out might not be as effective if Europeans didn’t reimpose sanctions. But Rubio doesn’t engage with the many consequences that could result from such a unilateral move; as one expert has noted, it would alienate and break faith with European allies, causing untold ripple effects.


Persistent questioning of the GOP candidates is complicating their efforts to frame this issue as a narrow, simplistic one — Of course I’d immediately reverse Obama’s craven capitulation to Iran! In fact, a deal isn’t just between Obama and Iran; it also involves major European allies, meaning there are all sorts of complicated international ramifications to consider.

In the NPR interview, Rubio also basically confirms that as president he’d cancel Obama’s efforts to re-engage with Cuba. All of this suggests once again that the proper extent of U.S international engagement on a number of fronts could form the basis of a key contrast heading into 2016. If Obama’s international efforts succeed, the eventual GOP nominee will likely have pledged to undo his ongoing efforts to thaw relations with Cuba; cancel any major nuclear deal with Iran involving major European powers; and pull the United States out of any global climate agreement in which numerous countries pledge to curb carbon emissions. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton will almost certainly have embraced international engagement on all these fronts, though it remains to be seen how hard she’ll proactively push this contrast.

By the way: Has Jeb Bush — who has pledged a campaign targeted towards a general election audience, rather than aimed at the GOP base — been asked whether he would cancel an Iran deal that our European allies want to keep in place? It will also be interesting to see where Rand Paul ultimately comes down on this question, given that he is supposedly in favor of diplomacy.



* SENATE DEMS PUSH CHANGES TO CORKER-MENENDEZ BILL: The New York Times reports that Senators on the Foreign Relations Committee worked late into the night negotiating over changes to the Corker-Menendez bill, which the White House fears could scuttle an Iran deal. Senators Bob Corker and Ben Cardin focused on this:

To try to get there, Mr. Corker and Mr. Cardin focused on watering down two provisions. One would require the president to certify every 90 days that Iran is not supporting terrorist attacks against Americans, an issue that has not been part of the nuclear negotiations. The other would prevent the president from waiving any sanctions until the expiration of a 60-day congressional review period.

The terrorism piece may come out. But the question remains, what would a compromise even look like on the provision suspending Obama’s authority to lift sanctions? Whether he should have this authority is the crux of the dispute. We’ll know more later today.

Corker said there is broad agreement on the basic process set out in the bill: the establishment of a review period during which sanctions would remain in place, the ability of Congress to approve or disapprove the deal and, if the deal is approved, the creation of an ongoing congressional role in overseeing Iranian compliance.

So keep an eye on whether Dems support the provision the White House opposes: The worry: By holding a vote, before there’s any deal, that casts doubt on whether Congress will allow the president to carry out his end of the bargain — temporarily lifting sanctions — it could scuttle the process.

* CORKER PREPARED TO OFFER COMPROMISE OF SORTS: Politico adds this key nugget:

In another compromise with Democrats, Corker is willing to allow the president to waive sanctions on a faster timetable than the 60-day waiting period envisioned in earlier versions of his bill.

That could help matters, because it could mean less of a delay in implementing the U .S.’s end of the bargain. But it would probably leave in place the second vote to approve or disapprove of the deal.


A senior Republican aide said the bill is unlikely to reach the Senate floor for several weeks, which could give Corker and Cardin more time to get a deal. That could be more difficult if GOP members on the Foreign Relations panel succeed in adding amendments that would toughen any deal with Iran. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who on Monday launched his campaign for president in 2016, has proposed an amendment that would require Iran to accept Israel’s right to exist.

The vote on that Israel amendment should be something to watch. Meanwhile, if Republicans do succeed in toughening the conditions for any Iran deal, it could cost the support of enough Democrats to deny Republicans a veto-proof majority.

A consensus is forming within the Republican Party that the plan of attack against Hillary Clinton should be…rooted in her accumulation of wealth and designed to frame her as removed from the concerns of average Americans…interviews with GOP consultants, party officials and the largest conservative super PACs point to an emerging narrative of a wealthy, out-of-touch candidate who plays by her own set of rules and lives in a world of private planes, chauffeured vehicles and million-dollar homes. The out-of-touch plutocrat template is a familiar one: Democrats used it to devastating effect against Republican Mitt Romney in 2012.

Of course, it’s always possible that this particular line of attack worked on Mitt Romney in part because voters understood his policies favored the rich.

* AND RAND PAUL PLANS ADS ATTACKING HILLARY, BIG GUMMINT: Also from the above Politico story, this is notable:

Rand Paul — who announced his own 2016 bid Tuesday — is planning to trace the edges of the GOP argument in cable television ads that will run in four early voting states this week. “Hillary Rodham Clinton represents the worst of the Washington machine. The arrogance of power, corruption, cover up. Conflicts of interest,” the spots say. “The Washington machine is destroying the American Dream.”

As noted yesterday, the eventual GOP nominee’s agenda will likely be premised largely on the idea that the primary obstacle to economic mobility and the leading cause of inequality — which Republicans know they have to care about — is big government.