The decision of 47 Senate Republicans this week to try to sabotage international nuclear talks with Iran has drawn fierce criticism – from Democrats, Republicans, veteran diplomats, editorial boards, and pundits of every stripe, among others. What started as a scheme among American politicians to undermine American foreign policy has quickly become an important fiasco.
The effects of the debacle are still unfolding, but the overwhelming disgust for the GOP senators’ legally dubious scheme has created an awkward situation for Republican presidential candidates, the Republican signatories, and in some cases, those who fall into both categories.
Though no one asked him, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) was first among the 2016 candidates to enthusiastically endorse the sabotage letter, though former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R) soon followed. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) was slightly more cautious, blaming President Obama for the GOP effort to undermine his administration.
And then there’s Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who told NBC News yesterday that he’s not only pleased with the letter, but also, “I would send another one tomorrow.” The Tampa Bay Times’ Alex Leary reports today, meanwhile, that the far-right Floridian’s political action committee has even begun fundraising off the controversy.
Rubio’s “Reclaim American PAC” sent out a letter to donors this morning with this pitch:
“Earlier this week, [Sen. Tom Cotton] sent a letter to the Iranian regime reiterating that the United States Senate would not review any agreements that President Obama makes with Iran. Marco was proud to be one of the first senators to sign the letter.“Now Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s liberal allies are accusing Tom Cotton and Marco of being ‘traitors.’”
From there, the appeal for contributions says that a $25 donation “will allow us to immediately fight back against these outrageous attacks.”
The letter did not specify how, exactly. a $25 contribution would help Rubio’s PAC respond to critics.
It’s quite a turn of events, isn’t it? Rubio helped create an international controversy, working with other far-right politicians to deliberately undermine American foreign policy and scuttle ongoing diplomatic talks. The ensuing scandal has divided Republicans and may ultimately affect America’s ability to lead on the global stage.
Marco Rubio’s PAC, watching these developments unfold, apparently thought, “Hey, why don’t we exploit the controversy for cash?”
For one thing, this isn’t exactly the sort of move that screams “presidential leadership.” For another, to raise money off a scandal that’s drawn fire from the left, right, and center raises questions about Team Rubio’s political judgment.