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Tags: Steve Daines | Senate | Iran letter

Sen. Steve Daines: Iran Letter Was 'Right Thing to Do'

By    |   Tuesday, 10 March 2015 03:07 PM EDT

A U.S. senator who signed a letter to Iran that is being excoriated by the White House defended his participation on Newsmax TV Tuesday, telling "MidPoint" guest host John Bachman that Congress is doing its job by weighing in on U.S.-led nuclear talks with a state sponsor of terrorism.

"Our goal here is to ensure that Iran never has nuclear-weapons capabilities, and we're staying focused on that end goal," said freshman Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, one of the 46 co-signers — all Republican — of the letter to Iranian leaders.

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"I thought it was the right thing to do," said Daines, who was later joined on air by Republican political strategist and author Dick Morris.

The letter warns that any nonproliferation deal signed now might be vetoed by the Senate or by President Barack Obama's successor. It was written by first-term Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas, a Harvard-educated lawyer and Iraq war veteran.

Obama himself, Vice President Joe Biden and other Democrats have criticized the letter harshly, calling it a disruptive partisan ploy at a moment of high-stakes negotiations and a gift to Iranian hardliners who want nuclear negotiations to fail.

A handful of Republican senators also declined to lend their signatures.

Daines said he does not oppose talking to Iran, "but the concern many of us have is the president's negotiating right now with one of the leading sponsors of state terrorism in the world.

"As [Israeli Prime Minister] Bibi Netanyahu said, if Iran wants to be treated like a normal country, let it act like a normal country. The leader of the Iranian Special Forces is considered to be responsible for up to 20 percent of American casualties in Iraq.

"It's important that we have Congress on the same page" as the administration, said Daines. "It's our constitutional duty — especially if we're dealing with something as significant as stopping Iran from having nuclear weapons capabilities."

Morris, for his part, called for the countries negotiating with Iran to keep sanctions in place and be prepared to walk away from the talks.

"Let's use the metaphor Netanyahu used: the Persian bazaar," said Morris, referring to the Israeli leader's controversial speech to Congress — which the White House and other Democrats also opposed.

"When you go over and you evince interest in a rug the guy's selling, that's good news for him," said Morris, "and when you walk away, that's bad news for him, and you're likely to get a much lower price having walked away than staying there and bargaining."

"The whole point here is that sanctions worked, they will continue to work, they forced Iran to negotiate, and now they need to force her to capitulate," said Morris, co-author of "Power Grab: Obama's Dangerous Plan for a One Party Nation".

Daines and Morris both agreed with Obama's decision to impose sanctions on Venezuelan officials in response to that country's crackdown on internal political dissent.

Morris said that Venezuela leads an anti-U.S. coalition of countries in South America and the Caribbean, and that the administration could neutralize Venezuela by declaring an oil embargo on the country: "That would stop their oil sales and kill their economy in a matter of weeks."

Watch the video here.

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Sen. Steve Daines, who signed a letter to Iran that is being excoriated by the White House, defended his participation on Newsmax TV Tuesday.
Steve Daines, Senate, Iran letter
Tuesday, 10 March 2015 03:07 PM
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