Barack Obama to John McCain: Back off John Kerry – Nahal Toosi/POLITICO
The president blasted the Arizona senator on Saturday for his recent comments questioning how forthcoming the secretary of state has been about what’s contained in the preliminary nuclear deal with Iran.
During a press conference in Panama City, Obama praised Kerry’s service to the country, noting that he’s a former senator and a Vietnam veteran.
For McCain (R-Ariz.) to imply that Kerry “is somehow less trustworthy in the interpretation of what’s in a political agreement than the supreme leader of Iran, that’s an indication of the degree to which partisanship has crossed all boundaries,” Obama said.
Earlier in the week, the Republican senator, who is also a Vietnam veteran, declared that when it came to the preliminary nuclear deal with Iran: “John Kerry is delusional.”
In a recent interview, McCain, who lost the presidency to Obama in 2008, suggested that Kerry was being misleading about what was in the deal and that Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was right in raising questions about it.
“I think you’re going to find out that they had never agreed to the things that John Kerry claimed that they had,” the senator told radio host Hugh Hewitt. “So in a way, I can’t blame the ayatollah, because I don’t think they ever agreed to it, and I think John Kerry tried to come back and sell a bill of goods, hoping maybe that the Iranians wouldn’t say much about it.”
A frustrated Obama pointed to McCain’s comments about Kerry as well as a letter signed by 47 Republican senators that warned Iranian leaders against signing on to the U.S. deal as being inappropriate.
“That’s not how we’re supposed to run foreign policy, regardless of who’s president or secretary of state,” said Obama, who spoke shortly after holding a landmark face-to-face meeting with Cuban President Raul Castro.
“When you start getting to the point where you are actively communicating that the United States government and our secretary of state is somehow spinning presentations in a negotiation with a foreign power, particularly one that you say is your enemy, that’s a problem,” he said. “It needs to stop.”
In a written response to Obama’s remarks, McCain reiterated his broader concerns about how the deal has been presented.
“It is undeniable that the version of the nuclear agreement outlined by the Obama administration is far different from the one described by Iran’s supreme leader — on inspections, sanctions relief and other critically important issues,” McCain said. “These widely divergent explanations of the nuclear deal must be fully explained and reconciled if we are to give serious consideration to this agreement.”
McCain was a bit more snarky about the situation on Twitter. “So Pres Obama goes to #Panama, meets with Castro and attacks me — I’m sure Raúl is pleased,” the senator wrote.