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How the 2016 climate gives Obama an advantage on Iran

Updated

How the 2016 race might give Obama an advantage on Iran … Obama’s interview with Tom Friedman gives a preview of his press conference today … Obama makes the comparison to Nixon’s trip to China …  The deal reminds us why the long nominating process matters …  Rand Paul’s surprising silence … It’s FEC filing day! A review of what we know about the second quarter fundraising numbers so far … Ben Carson’s big burn rate … Christie picks up another governor’s endorsement … and what Scott Walker said about the Boy Scouts of America.

FIRST THOUGHTS.

Which moments are shaping the presidential race? Click the image above to see an interactive timeline of the 2016 race.
*** The 2016 climate gives Obama an advantage on Iran: Is there a chance that opponents of the Iran deal eventually put together a bipartisan coalition big enough to overrule the president? It’s possible – but this particular political environment makes that less likely. With every Republican presidential candidate blasting the deal almost immediately, before the details of the agreement were apparent, it’s not hard for the administration to argue to Democrats on the fence that this is simply another partisan fight and that while they may have concerns, their opposition would end up strengthening the GOP as a whole. Now, a political argument like that to twist arms on a vote may seem crass, but welcome to Washington politics. The president has another ally in swaying skeptical Democrats on Iran: Hillary Clinton. Because for Democrats, a vote to gut Obama’s top foreign policy legacy item wouldn’t just be bucking an outgoing president with 18 months left on the clock – it would now be bucking the candidate that could succeed him, too. In a statement last night, Hillary Clinton said: “I am still studying the details, but based on the briefings I received and a review of the documents, I support the agreement because it can help us prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. With vigorous enforcement, unyielding verification, and swift consequences for any violations, this agreement can make the United States, Israel, and our Arab partners safer.” Clinton was more definitive on Iran than she was on the trade agreement last month. If Clinton were splitting from the president (like she sorta tried to do on trade), it would be a lot easier for Democrats to be free agents and break with their party over concerns about the Iran deal. But if this is framed as a partisan battle with all the GOP candidates opposing the Democratic Party’s current AND future leader, Democrats are likely to feel more pressure to be good soldiers on this.

*** Obama gives a preview of his press conference: If you’re looking for a glimpse at Obama’s argument for the deal – which we’ll hear at his press conference this afternoon at 1 p.m. ET –  look no further than his lengthy interview with The New York Times’ Tom Friedman. In a 45-minute exchange, Obama defended the agreement as “the most definitive path by which Iran will not get a nuclear weapon” and hit back against the charge that U.S. negotiators failed to use all available leverage. “The reason we were able to unify the world community around the most effective sanctions regime we’ve ever set up, a sanction regime that crippled the Iranian economy and ultimately brought them to the table, was because the world agreed with us, that it would be a great danger to the region, to our allies, to the world, if Iran possessed a nuclear weapon. We did not have that kind of global consensus around the notion that Iran can’t enjoy any nuclear power whatsoever,” he said. And he laid out his own metric for determining success: “We are not measuring this deal by whether it is changing the regime inside of Iran. We’re not measuring this deal by whether we are solving every problem that can be traced back to Iran, whether we are eliminating all their nefarious activities around the globe. We are measuring this deal — and that was the original premise of this conversation, including by Prime Minister Netanyahu — Iran could not get a nuclear weapon.”

*** Historian-in-chief? Here’s another thing in the New York Times interview that caught our eye: Obama directly made the comparison between his work on the Iran deal and Richard Nixon’s 1972 visit to China. “I had a lot of disagreements with Richard Nixon, but he understood there was the prospect, the possibility, that China could take a different path,” he said. If Republicans were looking for evidence that the president was too concerned about his legacy regarding the deal, they may have it in this comparison. Are there useful parallels to be explored? Sure. But 1) it’s the kind of pronouncement typically made by historians and others, usually not by the principal and 2) like Nixon’s visit to China, it’s going to be a long, long time before we have a clear picture of whether or not this deal has been a success. If Iran becomes stronger and more of a U.S. and Israeli antagonist in the Middle East, even without a nuclear weapon, this deal won’t be seen in the best of lights. And, of course, if Iran ends up with a nuke, well, then this is North Korea, not Nixon to China or Reagan and Gorbachev.

*** Respecting the political process: As much as we complain about the lengthy and grueling presidential nominating process, the Iran deal reminds us of WHY that process is so important. Nothing about this agreement came as a surprise; we knew from candidate Obama back in 2008 exactly what his goals were when it came to a possible deal with Iran or negotiating in general with adversaries. The same goes for his action on Cuba. Yes, a string of debates, forums and dueling press conferences can seem like a circus sometimes – but moments like this remind us why they matter.

*** Rand Paul’s surprisingly quiet campaign: Is there any presidential candidacy that’s more surprisingly quiet than Rand Paul’s right now? Plenty of observers thought that he would be the candidate dominating the conversation at this stage in the primary cycle, but he’s not making many waves – and the time he’s taken to respond to major news events (including Iran yesterday) is starting to look like a pattern. His fundraising in the second quarter was fine (see below) but not great considering how wired he is with online donors. From outside it looks like a campaign that’s searching for direction. We know that dinging him for taking his time in responding to news isn’t fair considering the pace of the news cycle – and that, in a perfect world, being deliberate and thoughtful would make him look like the adult in the room. And, yes, for a candidate that uses “read the bill” as a rallying cry, he would be a hypocrite if he weren’t deliberate. But the reality is that he’s not going to be rewarded for it, especially when his base is largely made up of voters who want a LOT of activity and visibility. Perhaps this is just a blip and Paul is simply a victim of the current oxygen sucking sound that is the Trump campaign, but Paul’s movement is one that needs oxygen and thrives on activity and right now, the campaign seems to be getting a tad lost in the shuffle.

*** It’s FEC Filing Day: Tonight at midnight is the deadline for the campaigns’ second-quarter fundraising totals to be filed to the FEC. So the estimates we’ve been working with from the campaigns will be official, and we’ll get cash-on-hand numbers. Below are the estimates we’ve seen so far. Note: The Super PAC numbers don’t have to be filed until July 31.

*** What the campaigns have raised: With the July 15 reporting deadline coming up next week, here is what the CAMPAIGNS have raised so far in the second quarter:

  • Hillary Clinton campaign: $45 million
  • Bernie Sanders campaign: $15 million
  • Marco Rubio: $12 million
  • Jeb Bush: $11.4 million
  • Ben Carson: $10.5 million
  • Ted Cruz campaign: $10 million
  • Rand Paul: $7 million
  • Carly Fiorina: $1.4 million
  • Rick Perry: $1.07 million
  • Lincoln Chafee: $393,000

*** What the Super PACs and 501c4s have raised so far:

  • Right to Rise (Bush): $103 million
  • Keep the Promise groups (Cruz): an estimated $37 million
  • Rick Perry Super PACs: $16.8 million
  • Conservative Solutions PAC (Rubio): $16 million
  • Conservative Solutions Project 501c4 (Rubio): $15.8 million
  • Priorities USA (Clinton): $15.6 million
  • American Bridge (Clinton): $7.7 million
  • American Bridge 501c4 (Clinton): $1 million
  • CARLY for America (Fiorina): $3.4 million
  • John Kasich 527s groups: $11.5 million

*** What the combined amounts (campaign + outside groups) are:

  • Team Jeb: $114.4 million
  • Team Hillary: $69.3 million
  • Team Cruz: $51 million (that includes the $4 million his campaign raised in the 1stQ)
  • Team Rubio: $43.8 million
  • Team Perry: $17.9 million
  • Team Carly: $4.8 million

*** Hey, big spender!  Speaking of the fundraising reports, we’ll see juicy tidbits like these: The Wall Street Journal, which got an early look at Ben Carson’s filing, found the campaign with a high burn rate and hefty salaries. “Barry Bennett, Mr. Carson’s campaign manager, earns $17,500 per month, which works out to an annual salary of $210,000. Monthly salaries for other senior staffers include $15,000 for senior strategist Ed Brookover; $16,666 for communications director Doug Watts; $13,300 for press secretary Deana Bass.” Wow. By contrast, the Journal reminds us, “[Mitt] Romney’s national political director Richard Beeson and campaign manager Matt Rhoades each earned about $13,750 each month, according to FEC filings.”

*** Christie picks up another governor’s endorsement: If you’re wondering if there’s any loyalty in politics anymore,here’s your evidence: NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell reports that Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan will endorse Chris Christie for president in Annapolis this morning. As RGA chair, Christie was instrumental in helping Hogan to his improbable victory in the blue state in 2014, even when most of the rest of the political establishment had long written off Hogan’s chance of winning. This is the second time Christie’s RGA ties have paid off; Maine Gov. Paul LePage also gave him a boost earlier this summer.  With Hogan, there’s a personal connection too: the 2016 candidate has been wearing a bracelet in support of Hogan’s fight against cancer.

*** Scott Walker and the Boy Scouts: Here’s an item that might be raising some eyebrows this morning and force an eventual walk back or re-wording: Walker told IJ Review that he supported the Boy Scouts of America’s previous policies barring gay troop leaders because “it protected children and advanced Scout values.”   

OBAMA AGENDA: Defending the deal

In an interview with Tom Friedman of the New York Times, Obama gave a lengthy defense of the Iran deal. “We are not measuring this deal by whether it is changing the regime inside of Iran,” said the president. “We’re not measuring this deal by whether we are solving every problem that can be traced back to Iran, whether we are eliminating all their nefarious activities around the globe. We are measuring this deal — and that was the original premise of this conversation, including by Prime Minister Netanyahu — Iran could not get a nuclear weapon. That was always the discussion.”

The Boston Globe offers an inside look into how the deal unfolded.

Writes the New York Times, on the Iran deal: “For all of the focus on details like the number of centrifuges or the scope of inspections, the emerging battle represents a larger conflict of visions between Mr. Obama’s faith in diplomacy as the most rational way to resolve differences and his critics’ deep skepticism over the wisdom of negotiating with what they see as an adversary that cannot be trusted.

POLITICO writes that key Democrats are skeptical of the deal: “Many of them will be in office beyond the end of Obama’s term, so an affirmative vote means they will effectively own the deal when they face voters again. That means they could pay a dear price politically if the accord fails to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions and proves to be a failure.”

From The Atlantic: “Why the Iran Deal Makes Obama’s Critics So Angry”

Greece faces more political turmoil and public protests as its parliament votes on austerity measures.

OFF TO THE RACES: A new national poll

The GOP primary standings, according to a new USA Today/Suffolk poll: Trump 17%, Bush 14%, Walker 8%, Cruz 6%, Rubio 5%, Carson 4%, Paul 4%, Huckabee 4%, Christie 3%

POLITICO writes on “the revenge of Citizens United.” MORE: “Concerns are mounting among top donors and party elites that an influx of huge checks into the GOP primary will hurt the party’s chances of retaking the White House. Long-shot candidates propped up by super PACs and other big-money groups will be able to linger for months throwing damaging barbs at establishment favorites who offer a better chance of victory, the thinking goes.”

National Journal reports that three GOP donors - including Paul Singer and Ken Griffin - have formed a new federal committee focused on 2016.

BUSH: The Boston Globe reports that former Romney aides Beth Myers and Peter Flaherty are joining Jeb Bush’s campaign.

CLINTON: In a statement late Tuesday night, she said of the Iran deal: “I am still studying the details, but based on the briefings I received and a review of the documents, I support the agreement because it can help us prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. With vigorous enforcement, unyielding verification, and swift consequences for any violations, this agreement can make the United States, Israel, and our Arab partners safer.”

CRUZ: He’s meeting with Trump in New York, the Washington Post reports.

TRUMP: He told NBC yesterday that his financial disclosures would be coming today or tomorrow.

His campaign deleted a tweet that included an image featuring Nazi soldiers, blaming the incident on an intern.

The Washington Post looks at how Latinos have shown their political power in the response to the Trump controversy.

WALKER: He told IJ Review that he supported the Boy Scouts of America’s previous policies barring gay troop leaders because “it protected children and advanced Scout values.” The national executive committe of the Scouts voted unanimously this week to allow gay adults to be employees and troop leaders.

And around the country….

TEXAS: The Jade Helm military exercise begins today.

Mark Murray contributed.

How the 2016 climate gives Obama an advantage on Iran

Updated