Republicans Evenly Split on Iran Deal

The party elites may hate the agreement, but rank-and-file Republicans aren't sure.


"He says, 'Stay out of Iran.' I like that!"
The Rand Paul Store

The conventional wisdom about Rand Paul and foreign policy is that his relatively dovish instincts have put him out of step with Republican voters. And on many issues that's probably true—hence his reversals on ISIS and Pentagon spending.

But don't overstate it. Here's how the Republican in the street feels about the week's chief foreign policy debate, according to Reuters:

Thirty-one percent of U.S. Republicans favor a new nuclear deal with Iran, creating a challenge for their party's lawmakers who largely oppose the framework accord sealed between Tehran and world powers, a Reuters/Ipsos poll showed on Wednesday.

Another 30 percent of Republicans oppose the pact, while 40 percent are not sure, according to the poll, which revealed a sharp split in the party as its leaders ramp up opposition to the deal championed by President Barack Obama, a Democrat.

That's right: Nearly half haven't made up their minds yet, and the ones with an opinion are basically split evenly, with slightly more favoring the agreement. With every other contender seeking a share of the hawks' vote, there just might be an opening here for a candidate capable of speaking out forcefully against the saber-rattlers. If he's willing to take the opportunity.

NEXT: A.M. Links: Rand Paul Attacks Media Bias, Obama Supports Ban on Conversion Therapy for Minors, Cop Who Shot Unarmed South Carolina Man Had Previous Excessive Force Complaint

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  1. What I’ve heard from Paul basically jibes with most Republican voters. He’s skeptical of the agreement both because the terms of it coming out of Tehran don’t jibe with the terms of it as described by the administration and because it looks like there’s little in the way of verification. That said, he isn’t opposed to an agreement in principle.

    To me that sounds like a pretty reasonable ground to stake out – not a “we must have an agreement” and not a “we can’t have an agreement”.

  2. “…there just might be an opening here for a candidate capable of speaking out forcefully against the saber-rattlers. If he’s willing to take the opportunity.”

    And you think that just might be Rand Paul? The guy who signed a letter whose primary intent was to scuttle negotiations? Please. In order to do what you suggest, one would have to say that the President has been correct to pursue negotiations, and that a successfully concluded negotiation is our best chance at avoiding war, and the initial agreement is a step in that direction.

    That’s right. Rand Paul would have to side with the President. Even writers here at Reason just can’t bring themselves saying that.

    1. The guy who signed a letter whose primary intent was to scuttle negotiations?

      Have you even bothered to read the letter? All it said was that, in order for any agreement to be binding, the Senate would have to approve it. That’s just a simple fact of the American political process. If explaining that to the Iranians amounts to “scuttling” the deal, there wasn’t a viable deal to scuttle.

      And no, there are alternatives to “I support any deal the President makes” and “I oppose any deal the President makes”. A rational person can support the idea of a deal and still have significant reservations about the details of a particular deal.

      1. All it said was that, in order for any agreement to be binding, the Senate would have to approve it.

        I have to actually side with JackandAce here (ugh). Yes, that is what the letter said, but c’mon. I’m sure the Iranians already know this and reading between the lines, it is fairly clear the Senate wasn’t just trying to give the Iranians a friendly civics lesson.

        The letter was a bad call.

        1. Let me ask a question, then. If the deal was such that it wouldn’t get Senate approval and it could reasonably be expected that a future president wouldn’t hold go along with it, why should I believe its a worthwhile deal?

          1. From a practical point of view, if a deal has no chance of getting approval, then it’s a bad deal. That doesn’t make it a bad deal in principle, though (I’m speaking hypothetically here, not about the current deal, such as it is).

            But the Senate shouldn’t be trying to inject itself into the negotiations. They should give the President the opportunity to come up with something. If they don’t like it, vote it down. But wait until there is actually something to vote on, or at least comment publicly on. And if you want to let everyone know what will and won’t fly in the Senate, tell it to the White House, don’t go over their heads and send some public letter to the Iranians.

            1. They should give the President the opportunity to come up with something. If they don’t like it, vote it down.

              You’re ignoring the fact that the President had already threatened to bypass Congress. So, they weren’t going to have much of a chance to vote it down. Telling the Iranians such a deal wouldn’t be binding only put the President in the position of having to acknowledge the appropriate constitutional process.

        2. it is fairly clear the Senate wasn’t just trying to give the Iranians a friendly civics lesson.

          It was a civics lesson in why its pointless to try to cut a deal that can’t pass Congress. I don’t see anything wrong with that.

        3. Not necessarily. I heard some foreign. Policy experts discussing it on Greta. They said that some of the facets regarding our system of government and its procedures are confusing to the Iranians.

  3. That’s nice, but I’m not sure why I should give a crap about the political popularity of the proposed deal.

    What really matters is whether or not the proposed deal is good for the United States and the world. It would be nice to see some analysis of the specifics of the deal that goes deeper than a puddle.

    1. Any analysis that goes beyond the internal divisions of TEAM BE RULED is not worth the pixels it’s displayed on.

  4. I’d love to think this issue won’t hurt Rand Paul at all.

    As we were talking about in the AM thread, unlike his father, he isn’t opposing an ongoing war in Iraq that the Republican faithful all believed in. To whatever extent Rand Paul is anti-war, it’s about avoiding unnecessary and unconstitutional hypothetical wars in the future, and that will play a whole lot better than his father’s opposition to the ongoing Iraq War did.

    That having been said, Rand Paul isn’t in the general election yet, and the Republican faithful/ primary voters are probably a whole lot closer to Republican politicians in regards to the Iran deal than the average Republican. Policy is driven by donors and primary voters–and they’re against the Iran deal.

    It’s a good thing Rand Paul signed that letter. He was called a traitor by progressives like the other 46 for signing it–and for the Rand Paul campaign, that’s a good thing.

    The MSM has already gone after him for being against abortion. They’ve gone after him for signing the letter about Iran. Now if we could just bait the MSM into calling him out as a dangerous disgrace for supporting the Second Amendment, Rand Paul might actually have a shot at winning this nomination!

    1. Foreign policy is driven by those donors & primary voters who make foreign policy a priority.

    2. How can progressives, who are inherently treasonous, condemn anyone else for treason? They’ve already cornered the market on it.

  5. Its funny = i’ve heard 3 or 4 reason writers come out in what appears to be strong support for the current “deal” w/ Iran…

    …but not one has either mentioned 1 detail of the substance of the thing, and why it is desirable, or bothered to note (*exception to Sheldon today!) that with neither Israel or Saudi Arabia on board…. neither planning to cooperate and recognize any change in policy, neither changing their relative positions one iota…. that it is effectively *meaningless* in terms of trying to reconcile hostile relations.

    Its basically just words on paper saying that we will remove some sanctions if they play nice with the west on things ‘related to’ nukes, but which doesn’t address their funding/support of Hezbollah, their hostile mechanizations in places like Yemen, Iraq. etc.

    IOW = people seem really excited about buying this lemon at any price. yet fail to bother to make the case for why. The best i can tell is that they seem to think that anything that is, in the headlines at least, “less hostile” towards Iran is desirable

    (ignoring completely if the underlying reality is either unchanged, or in fact worsened by revealing we can no longer compel/sweet-talk the cooperation of our regional ‘allies’, and therefore our word is meaningless)

    1. More than at any time since the Soviet Union was around, we need geopolitical chess players in this country, and yet most of what passes for our “elites” and thinkers don’t even rise to the level of Checkers players. Right now, we’re at about the level of Candyland or Chutes and Ladders.

      1. More than at any time since the Soviet Union was around, we need geopolitical chess players in this country…

        Honestly, I’d say more than at that time. A multi-polar world is more complex than a two-player game.

        1. You’re right. We need some people who are masters at both chess AND poker. And they’re not easy to find.

          1. No. Poker, Diplomacy, and Robo Rally. Maybe Illuminati classic too. Before I Kill You, Mr. Bond wouldn’t hurt either.

    2. The best i can tell is that they seem to think that anything that is…”less hostile” towards Iran is desirable

      If by “desirable” you mean “preferable to what the other Republican candidates are pushing,” you are correct. I would not call that “strong support.”

      I’m of the view that the deal still leaves the U.S. with too big a role in the region. In the meantime, in the debate that actually exists, I’ll root for the position least likely to get us into Tom Cotton’s war.

      1. “If by “desirable” you mean “preferable to what the other Republican candidates are pushing,” you are correct. I would not call that “strong support.”‘

        Fair enough.

        Aka = The “fuck Lindsay Graham and John McCain” POV

        i agree on that at least. I just dont think the Iran deal requires turd-polishing to hold that view (*not that i see that here… it was more in Ed’s, other takes on the subject)

        ” the deal still leaves the U.S. with too big a role in the region”

        Indeed – which was exactly the point about how our estrangement of Israel and Saudi Arabia is actually far worse for creating ‘sustainable conditions’ than any paper-agreement. If we could get them to reconcile with their neighbors, we wouldn’t have to pretend to play referee anymore (in theory)

        1. Something i’d compare this to is the paradox of the (ostensibly) “anti-war”-person’s grudging acceptance of “drone warfare”, which i’ve seen among the Left, and even from so-called “libertarian non-interventionists”

          i.e. the Policy is not attractive for what it actually “is”…. but rather what it “is not”.

          it is “less bad” than the ‘troops on the ground’-kind of war, because it in theory keeps intervention restrained in a grey area…where we aren’t really “at war” but we’re still killing people in foreign countries, which allows both ‘anti-war’ & ‘hawks’ to claim we’re ‘doing something‘, while not doing *too much*.

          “not as bad as Iraq!” they say. (the new bar – anything ‘not Iraq’ is AOK)

          i think drone warfare is the *worst* of all options, because the theoretical ‘low cost’ approach to intervention means that it is used more frequently. Its cheap and easy, and provides headlines of ‘enemy killed’ without it being put in any strategic political context. Its “war” without strategic goal. see Obama’s attitude towards the middle east – just because he’s “not Bush” doesn’t make his “hands-off-meddling” any less dangerous or destructive.

          Similarly, if making “progress” in US – Iran relations means sacrificing our ability to restrain Israel or Saudi Arabia… then its an empty achievement. its pretending to avoid “tom cotton’s war” while ignoring the actual *existing war going on right now* in places like Iraq and Yemen.

        2. So everyone is clear on things. First, Iran has no interest in being less hostile with Saudi Arabia or Israel. They won’t even concede Israel has a right to exist. And Obama is conceding that lack of concession. Second, the deal doesn’t allow for unscheduled spot inspections. Without that, enforcement is a joke. And the Iranian government does not keep its word. Third, even if they do, this deal does not stop them from developing nuclear weapons, it merely delays it.

          So basically, the deal will Ilift the sanctions and it won’t stop squat. They will have lots of money coming in which will be used to finance militants throughout the region, and terrorists around the world. And they still get their bombs. What a bunch of shit.

          The better course is to strengthen the economic sanctions and keep oil prices down. A broke Iran is much less dangerous, and is vulnerable to an internal revolution. Which will likely produce a more benign government.

          1. You make some good points. I disagree though that a revolution would produce a better gov’t. We’ve seen many revolutions in the Islamic world and all of them have been for the worse.

            All it would be is some idiot saying, “I will fight the Great Satan, where as this corrupt gov’t bowed down to it.”

            The reasonable guy saying, “Maybe we should rethink our ways.” would be drown out or killed.

    3. Its cover for removing sanctions, pure and simple. Obama wants to lift the sanctions, because he thinks he has some 3D chess sub rosa deal with the mullahs.

      Everything he does results in the advancement of Iran as a regional hegemon. The only interesting question is whether this is because Obama wants them to be the regional hegemon, or because he’s incompetent at stopping them.

  6. Amusing: Town Hall columnist wonders why anyone should vote Republican:…../page/full

    1. To be fair, it was a self critique. He made a good point about the hispanics and blacks.

      In my understanding, hispanics, by and large, are rather traditional, family oriented, and pious. If the republicans would stop with the whole, gotta purify the land of them perception, then I think the dems would notice that they’re running short on juans and rositas.

      I’m not really sure how they could overcome the dem fear mongering of the black people. The very assumption that black people should not be considered special and should be treated like everyone else, no worse, no better, is met by a fucking army of regressives telling the black people that repubs hate them and want them back on plantations (horrible run on sentence, I know, but I’m tired).

  7. Few people in either major party have many strong opinions on foreign policy. Therefore it makes sense to cater to those whose opinions on foreign policy are enough of a priority that it affects which candidates for national office they vote for. If you narrowed the poll to only those Republicans, how would the result come out?

  8. My Aunty Mackenzie recently got a nearly new blue Toyota Venza by working part time online… website here ?????????????

  9. I just got paid $6784 working off my laptop this month. And if you think that?s cool, my divorced friend has twin toddlers and made over $9k her first month. It feels so good making so much money when other people have to work for so much less. This is what I do…

  10. C’mon, stupid – nobody knows what the Iran deal is and there has been virtually no debate
    on the issue.

    1. A giant turd?

  11. It’s possible to say that Iran is not a huge threat AND that this is a bad deal. What’s going to happen when the deal is put into place and Israel says “screw you” and takes care of things themselves (with the tacit blessing of almost every other country in the region)?

    1. Even the biggest anti-Semites in Europe will be rooting for them to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities.

  12. I don’t understand this need for an American president to have a foreign policy or rather a set of pre-conceived agendas. Why is not good enough to say, “Well if nobody fucks with us, we aren’t gonna fuck with them.” or, “We will address issues as they arise, we will wait patiently and deliberate with wisdom. If we see a threat against us or our allies are involved in a just fight and call on us, then we are honor bound to assist them. Then when we go into a fight, we are going to kick the fucking shit out of the enemy, crush him, and win the war, no more of this bullshit fighting wars while handicapping ourselves bullshit.”

    Anything else seems like war mongering and king making.

    Also, why does anyone in their right mind think that Iran is going to honor this dumb fuck treaty. How many reruns of this exact show have we seen, all with the same damn results. Why do we keep touching the fucking burner?

  13. I dunno..I seriously think Iran needs and deserves an atomic bomb. A while back, I remember the atomic ambitions of North Korea and Iraq were both in the news. The US was accusing both countries of seeking an atom bomb.

    North Korea successfully detonated atom bombs, and we continued our negotiating with them. Iraq did not detonate a bomb, and we went in and essentially hanged Sadaam.

    To me, the difference was the A bomb. Sadaam would still be alive in a stable Iraq if he had developed an a bomb.

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