Donald Trump might have been faulted for his timing in addressing a rally at the Capitol against the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal on Wednesday, just a day after President Obama sewed up the necessary Democratic support to preserve the agreement.
But as is so often the case with the real estate tycoon and Republican presidential frontrunner, the political gods were smiling on Trump again today.
Shortly before he stepped up to the microphone on the West Front of the Capitol before a throng of thousands of cheering Tea-Party conservatives, veterans and pro-Israel advocates, news broke that Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, predicted that Israel will not exist 25 years from now. And he ruled out any further negotiations with “Satan” – the United States.
“After nuclear negotiations, the Zionist regime said that they will not be worried about Iran in the next 25 years,” Khamenei wrote on his personal website and in posts on Twitter, as translated by The New York Times. “I am telling you, first, you will not be around in 25 years’ time, and God willing, there will be no Zionist regime in 25 years. Second, during this period, the spirit of fighting, heroism and jihad will keep you worried every moment.”
After negotiations, in Zionist regime they said they had no more concern about Iran for next 25 years; I’d say: pic.twitter.com/dBA7oAbFPX— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) September 9, 2015
It was a jarring message from the most powerful leader in Iran – one that seemed to validate all of the opponents’ fears and concerns about the nuclear deal and Trump’s assertion that it was a very bad agreement negotiated by an incompetent Democratic leadership.
“We are led by very, very stupid people – very, very stupid people,” Trump, dressed like a chief executive in a dark business suit and red tie, declared from the podium on a hot, sun-splashed Washington afternoon. “We cannot let it continue. We are a country that owes $19 trillion. We lose everywhere. We lose militarily, we can’t beat ISIS.”
“Give me a break!” he added, reprising a popular theme from the presidential campaign trail. “We can’t beat anybody. Our vets are being treated horribly. It will change. We will have so much winnings if I get elected that you may get bored with winning.”
Trump traveled to the Capitol for the rally at the invitation of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), another Republican presidential candidate who has been cozying up to Trump even as others like former Florida governor Jeb Bush and Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky have attacked many of the billionaire’s more controversial proposals.
But Trump’s timing until now seemed dubious. The House and Senate have begun what has been deemed historic debates over whether to oppose the agreement and prevent Obama from lifting the U.S.-imposed sanctions against Iran ahead of a mid-September deadline for a final review of the complicated agreement. Trump seemingly had hoped to ride in at the last minute and help the Republicans defeat the agreement.
With 42 Senate Democrats now on record in support of the agreement, including four who announced their decisions yesterday, the White House now has sufficient strength to block a final vote on a resolution of disapproval if it chooses, or sustain a veto of the resolution if it somehow reaches the president’s desk.
In other words, the political combat between the Republican congressional majority and the president was pretty much over before Trump arrived on the scene.
Cruz, the chief organizer of today’s rally, clearly had something to gain from the highly publicized event. Lagging badly behind Trump in the presidential campaign polling, the Texas Republican basked in Trump’s reflective glory and reminded conservative and Tea Party voters that he is still a major player on Capitol Hill.
“Mitch McConnell and John Boehner can stop this deal if they simply enforce the federal law,” he said. “This Iranian nuclear deal is catastrophic,” Cruz told the crowd in a warm-up to Trump’s appearance. “It is the single greatest national security threat facing America.”
Without going into any details, Trump said that Cruz and other Republicans were right to oppose the agreement because of serious shortcomings in procedures for international inspections of Iranian nuclear sites, the $150 billion worth of assets and oil money that may be released to Tehran once economic sanctions are lifted, and the fact that the deal doesn’t include the release of four Americans being held hostage in Iran.
“I will say this,” Trump bellowed. “If I win the presidency, I guarantee you that those four prisoners are back before I ever take office . . . because they know that’s what has to happen.”