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Rubio’s Trail Journey Begins with a New Hampshire Swing

The Gilmer Free Press

MANCHESTER, NH — Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), sleeves rolled up at a cramped house gathering here, was fielding questions from locals on sensitive topics like Common Core, his shift on immigration and how he plans to win the presidency. Also — and much more critically — baseball.

“Are you a Boston Red Sox fan?” a young boy asked the Miami native and sports fan. The newly minted presidential candidate, a Miami Marlins booster, responded carefully: “How about this: I’m not a Yankees fan.” The crowd clapped approvingly. “That’s just as good!” one person remarked.

In his inaugural campaign trip since officially jumping into the presidential fray this week, here on the ground in this high-stakes state, Rubio was both deliberate and seemingly at-ease as he looked to make headway in a state where he still lags far behind the top tier.

Rubio’s visit came four days after he launched his campaign in Miami, amid news of some early momentum. He raised about $1.25 million in his first full day as a candidate, with reports of eight-digit commitments from deep-pocketed donors swirling late in the week. A pro-Rubio super PAC declined to comment.

The Floridian started his day at Manchester Community College, where he met with students and toured the welding and automotive shops.

Upon learning during his shop tour that someone with a master’s degree in journalism had joined one of the school’s programs, Rubio needled the press corps trailing him: “There you go, guys. There’s the future calling.”

At a Republican summit in Nashua, where more than a dozen other current and potential presidential candidates were also set to appear on Friday and Saturday, Rubio drew a plum Friday evening spot. After his speech, he was asked by an attendee which Democrats he could work with in Washington.

“I think I get along personally with everyone, even people that call me a loser,” joked Rubio, in reference to Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-NV) panning the GOP field.

The day of stops at traditional Granite State markers — the school, the house party, the rubber-chicken dinner — were his first steps on what could be a long road to serious contender status in this first-in-the-nation primary state. The Real Clear Politics average of New Hampshire polling shows Rubio at 6.4%, putting him in sixth place.

Still, his first foray onto the trail was a brief one: Rubio will head home Saturday morning, hitting the fundraising circuit again next week with events in Texas on Monday and Tuesday.

Throughout the day, Rubio, 43, sought to pitch himself as a next-generation candidate best capable of steering the country into a “new American century,” the theme of his campaign.

But Democrats have already sought to undercut Rubio’s message, calling attention to how his views on abortion and same-sex marriage align with the Republican orthodoxy.

A reporter asked Rubio about some of the criticism, specifically how his hard line toward Cuba — a position that resonates much more strongly with older Cuban Americans than younger ones, polling shows — and opposition to same-sex marriage, among other things, square with his effort to pitch himself as a fresh voice.

“There are some things that are universally true throughout their time,” he responded.

Rubio declined to directly criticize his likely rival and longtime mentor Jeb Bush — who along with Democratic front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton, is seen as an implicit target of his rhetoric about the need to focus on new ideas, not old ones.

“If he announces for president, he’s going to be a very strong candidate,” Rubio said of Bush. “I imagine he will put forth a policy agenda that outlines his position on various issues. And then we can make that judgement.”

One area where the two disagree is on Common Core, the math and English education standards that Rubio, like many conservatives, oppose, but Bush has defended. Rubio explained his opposition at the house gathering by arguing in favor of local control of education benchmarks.

Rubio was also asked to explain his stance on immigration, seen as a potential trouble spot for him because of his 2013 push for a comprehensive immigration reform in the Senate. The plan Rubio pushed — which went nowhere in the GOP-controlled House — included a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

“You have to show the American people that you’re serious about enforcement and that future illegal immigration will be under control,” said Rubio, who now says a piecemeal approach, not a big, sweeping measure, is the best strategy.

Rubio did interviews during the day with the New Hampshire Union-Leader newspaper and CBS’s “Face The Nation.”

The senator from Florida has hired an aide to help him break though in the state: Jim Merrill, a veteran campaign strategist who worked for Mitt Romney and who shadowed the senator all day long.

But other Republicans are staffing up too — some more rapidly. According to a Boston Globe analysis, Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), Bush, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Texas governor Rick Perry each have three paid operatives in the Granite State.

Petro, the community college student, said in an interview that Rubio and Paul are both on his short list. In an interview after the Manchester house gathering, Bryan Lord of Bedford, who asked Rubio during the event what his plan to win was, said he has also met with Paul.

“I live in New Hampshire. I don’t decide until the last day,” Lord said.

~~  Sean Sullivan ~~

WEST VIRGINIA’S MANCHIN CHOOSES SENATE OVER STATEHOUSE

The Gilmer Free Press

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Faced with the choice of returning to the job he loved or trying to break the partisan gridlock in Washington, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin has opted for gridlock.

During an interview on CBS’ Face the Nation Sunday, Manchin said he will abandon the idea of running for West Virginia governor in 2016—a job to which he’d previously said he looked forward to returning.

Admittedly frustrated with partisan politics in Washington, Manchin said he wanted to return to the Charleston statehouse—where he served as governor between 2005 and 2010 before taking Senator Robert Byrd’s vacant seat on Capitol Hill. Sunday, he surprised Democrats by announcing that he’s decided to stay put.

“I will be the first to tell you I didn’t think it would be this difficult [in the Senate],“ he said. “But I think we’ve made some inroads.“

A Democrat from a state that’s becoming more conservative, Manchin said he loved serving as the Mountain State’s governor and looked forward to going back after a poll indicated he had a substantial lead on the rest of the field of potential candidates. That, coupled with his growing frustration in Washington, is what made his decision Sunday so surprising.

The deciding factor, he said, was a renewed feeling that he can continue to try and make a difference at the federal level.

“I really believe we’ve changed the whole process to a certain extent in the Senate to where we’re willing to put our country first and I’m going to continue to fight for that,“ Manchin said. “That’s the reason I’ve made a decision to stay in the United States Senate.“

The 67-year-old lawmaker’s decision is seen by many as a coup for Democrats, who may struggle to retain seats in Congress in the 2016 and 2018 elections.

“I know that the Senate’s not working the way it was intended to,“ he added, “but I’m not going to stop fighting to make it work.“

Manchin was elected in 2010 to serve out the remainder of Byrd’s term, following the congressman’s death, and was elected in his own right to his first six-year term in 2012. His decision to remain in the Senate opens the field for gubernatorial candidates in Charleston. Democratic Governor Earl Ray Tomblin must vacate the statehouse in 2016 because he is term-limited.

Among his efforts in Washington, Manchin has supported a bill that would impose harsh sanctions on Iran if a nuclear deal isn’t hashed out and ratified by the June 30 deadline. But he is not among lawmakers who want final approval of any deal—a controversial issue that has arisen and divided Congress in recent weeks.

“I’d simply rather negotiate for peace and use all our diplomacy than declare war,“ he said on CBS Sunday.

A supporter of President Barack Obama, Manchin acknowledged that it is difficult being a Democrat in a largely Republican state. And when the time comes for Obama to leave the White House, he already knows who he wants to replace him.

“I know Hillary Clinton. And I find her to be warm and engaging, compassionate and tough,“ he said. “She’s going to earn every vote. She’s working for every vote that she can possibly get. She brings more experience to the table. She’s been more on the front lines than any person. More experience than any person we have at that level. She knows the leaders around the world.

“I just personally believe that Hillary is the best prepared to do the job for America.“

Hillary Clinton: Risk-Avoider in Chief

The Gilmer Free Press

The first people Hillary Clinton ran into on her much-discussed road trip to Iowa weren’t expecting to see her. It was a family at a refueling stop somewhere in Pennsylvania. The campaign’s Twitter account tweeted a picture of the group in front of a blank wall—the first regular voters Clinton met on the campaign trail.

Clinton’s Twitter account shows a slew of pictures of people in Iowa, waiting by the road or participating in discussions or taking her order. But as Politico noted earlier this week, Clinton didn’t meet as many people during her time in the state as you might have assumed. The photo at the top of this article was as Clinton emerged from a meeting in Mount Vernon, Iowa. “Clinton moved swiftly through the crowd,“ Politico’s Annie Karni wrote, “she posed quickly for one selfie, barely slowing her gait and reached out to coo over one baby before the van’s double doors slammed behind her.“ The meeting itself, like others, was with hand-picked participants.

There’s a big difference between happening upon a candidate at a shopping center and planning to sit down with her and ask her questions. That Clinton has largely avoided the press during this first week of her campaign is generally understood, leaving reporters to scramble to try and talk to her. But that she’s not engaging with many prepared, thoughtful voters—or many voters at all, for that matter—is another thing entirely.

During the run-up to her inevitable campaign, we looked at her play-it-safe strategy: Speeches before some groups, vetted Q-and-As with others. When Clinton sat down with the press, she often made news inadvertently, like the “dead broke” comments from last summer. Even her book tour offered a list of guidelines for those seeking signatures.

The campaign was supposed to be different. Or, at least, it seemed as though it was supposed to be different. “There was more of an illusion of give-and-take than the real thing,“ reported the Los Angeles Times’ Seema Mehta. “Clinton had implied a more freewheeling approach, and the question that lingered after she left was whether her carefully choreographed visit had improved views of her.“

Update: Business Insider reports that even for a small gathering of a few local leaders, “[t]here were warnings about leaks, drives to undisclosed locations, and a campaign staffer who confiscated the guests’ cellphones ahead of the sitdown.“ (Emphasis added.)

Former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, who has flirted with the idea of running against Clinton for the Democratic nomination, took a fairly weak swipe at this side of Clinton in an interview Thursday. “I believe that we are best as a party,“ he said, “when we lead with our principles and not according to the polls.“ There is absolutely no question that Clinton’s roll-out was tested and thought-through beforehand, despite the nonchalance with which it was introduced. (Even if the infamous Chipotle stop was spontaneous.)

But why? Barring something catastrophic, up-to-and-including the appearance of Mothra, Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic Party’s nominee for the presidency. There’s no Barack Obama with his big smile standing just over her shoulder. Clinton can weather all sorts of critiques and missteps over the next 12 months and still have that be the case. But during week one of her campaign for the presidency, she’s been Indiana Jones approaching the golden idol rather than Indy escaping the boulder: Stepping very carefully and only in designated places.

This thing will not be won or lost between now and December. This is the time when Clinton can most afford to be free-wheeling, is most able to play it by ear. So far, no dice.

If reporters are in search of those elusive moments of spontaneity, they might be better off staking out random rest stops than appearing at the locations on Clinton’s official schedule.

~~  Philip Bump ~~

The World According To Jeb Bush

The Gilmer Free Press

If Jeb Bush is elected president, the United States won’t be on speaking terms with Cuba and will partner more closely with Israel. He’ll tighten sanctions on Iran and urge NATO to deploy more troops in Eastern Europe to counter Vladimir Putin. And he’ll order the U.S. military to root out “barbarians” and “evildoers” around the globe.

Far from running from or playing down the views once expressed by his brother George W. Bush, Jeb Bush is embracing them — and emphasizing them.

It is clear when he calls for closer engagement with Arab leaders to combat the growing threat of the Islamic State. Or when he criticizes President Obama for pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq. It is most apparent when he refers to “evildoers” — a formulation used widely by his brother — and argues that the United States needs to engage but doesn’t have to be “the world’s policeman,” a view voiced by his brother that was also embraced by their father, George H.W. Bush.

“We now have a president — the first one, I believe, in the post-World War II era — that believes that America’s power is not appropriate and America’s presence is not a force for good,” Jeb Bush told a crowd of business leaders in Columbus, Ohio, this week. “He’s wrong. With all due respect, he is just plain wrong.”

“America needs to lead. America needs to stay engaged,” he added. “America’s friends need to know that we have their back over the long haul, and our enemies need to fear us a little bit.”

Bush’s views put him squarely in the middle of GOP consensus on foreign affairs — a consensus that formed as his brother reshaped U.S. engagement with the world. But by endorsing some of his brother’s views, he puts himself at odds with most Americans, who remain wary of the two wars launched during the last Bush presidency.

Even George W. Bush admits he’s a political liability. Speaking at a health conference in Chicago on Wednesday night, he told the crowd, “That’s why you won’t see me out there, and he doesn’t need to defend me,” before adding that he loves and supports his brother, according to reports of the speech.

In recent years, nearly 6 in 10 Americans have believed that the Iraq war was not worth fighting, though Republicans have been slightly more supportive, according to polling by The Washington Post and other organizations. In more recent years, public opinion has similarly turned against the war in Afghanistan.

He is not officially a candidate, but Bush has gone far beyond perfunctory criticism of Obama, thanks to his frequent engagement with voters, the press and a brain trust of nearly two dozen experts.

“Bush’s criticisms of Obama’s policies are pretty much what you would expect. ‘Not’ — as Jerry Seinfeld might have said — ‘that there is anything wrong with that,’ ” said Gary Schmitt, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.

But Peter Feaver, a Duke University professor of political science who once advised George W. Bush on Iraq, noted that, so far, Jeb Bush “doesn’t feel that he has to emphasize differences with the previous Presidents Bush. But he’s not insecure about it or defensive about it — he doesn’t list 20 things that he would do differently.”

As Bush prepares to launch a presidential campaign, he is calling upon his personal experiences abroad and a growing cast of advisers well versed in global conflicts.

He likes to remind crowds that he lived in Caracas, Venezuela, in the late 1970s when he was a vice president for Texas Commerce Bank. He lived in the city’s Santa Rosa de Lima neighborhood with his wife, Columba, his son, George, and his daughter, Noelle. (Their third child, Jeb Bush Jr., was born later.)

Bush has also said he has “forced” himself to visit Asia several times in recent years. While declining to provide specific destinations and dates, aides said that he has traveled to Asia 14 times since leaving the governor’s office in 2007, including several times to China, with other stops in Japan, South Korea and Singapore. He never visited China when his father, George H.W. Bush, was top U.S. envoy there, because Columba Bush was pregnant at the time with their first son, George P. Bush.

Early in the exploratory phase of his likely campaign, Jeb Bush unveiled a foreign policy advisory team that reflects the disparate views of GOP thinking on the world. The group includes two former secretaries of state, George P. Shultz and James A. Baker III; two former CIA directors, Porter J. Goss and Michael V. Hayden; former attorney general Michael Mukasey; and Paul Wolf­owitz, a former deputy defense secretary and a lead architect of the Iraq war. Several other lower-level officials from both Bush administrations are also members.

Several members of the group declined to comment for this article or did not respond to inquiries. Aides said Bush frequently interacts with group members directly via e-mail — just how he interacted with advisers as Florida governor.

He has hired two staffers, Robert S. Karem and John Noonan, to help develop his foreign policy platform and keep in touch with the bigger group. Most recently, Karem was a top policy adviser to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), while Noonan was a spokesman for the House Armed Services Committee after advising Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign on defense policy.

In speeches, meetings with voters and interviews across the country, Bush usually faults Obama for his “consistent policy of pullback and retrenchment.”

“It’s not that we necessarily have to be the world’s policeman,” he told a crowd in Denver last week. The country needs “a consistent policy where our friends know that we have their back and our enemies fear us a little bit — or our possible enemies believe that the United States will act in its own security interest.”

During a recent interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt, Bush accused Obama of withdrawing U.S. military troops around the world because he felt that “American power in the world was not a force for good.”

“What he’s learning is that voids are filled,” he added. “And now they’re filled not necessarily by nation-states. They’re filled by barbarians. They’re filled by nation-states using surrogates. They’re filled by evildoers that now have technologies at their fingertips to be able to undermine not just the neighborhood in which they are, but undermine the world.”

He is especially concerned by Russia’s Putin, who he told Hewitt is “a ruthless pragmatist” who “tries to undermine or underwrite the risk on every action he takes.” To counter Putin’s threats against the Baltic states, Bush said last month, Obama should consider invoking Article 5 of the NATO treaty, which states that an attack on one ally is an attack on all allies.

“I think there needs to be clarity in Moscow that we’re serious about protecting the one alliance that has created enormous amounts of security and peace in the post-World War II time,” he said, adding later that “if we’re not serious about Article 5, then we ought to have shut down NATO. And I think shutting down NATO would be a disaster.”

Bush’s comments came on the same day that a U.S. Army squadron was completing a 1,100-mile tour de force through six Eastern European countries after completing a months-long training exercise with Polish forces.

On Iran, Bush has repeatedly argued that Obama “negotiated downward” from his original goal of stopping the Iranian regime from building a nuclear weapon. He strongly opposed the framework agreement recently brokered by the United States and Iran.

“By creating this perpetual negotiation . . . we’re lowering what our expectations are and the Iranians are doing nothing in return,” he said last week in Denver, just days after the agreement was announced.

When it comes to Iraq, Bush is mostly supportive of his brother’s legacy there.

“There were mistakes in Iraq for sure,” he said during a speech in Chicago in February. “Using the intelligence capability that everybody embraced about weapons of mass destruction, it turns out to not be accurate.”

But in that appearance, he also called the 2007 Iraq troop “surge” “one of the most heroic acts of courage politically that any president’s done.”

“It was hugely successful and created a stability that when the new president came in, he could build on to create a fragile but more stable situation,” he said.

Bush has said repeatedly that Obama’s decision to withdraw forces from the region further destabilized Iraq and neighboring Syria and led to the rise of the Islamic State terrorist group.

The situation in Syria has “been made worse by actually not having a . . . small contingency force in Iraq, where we’ve had similar to Korea and other places where having a small contingency force would have allowed some degree of stability to take place,” he said in Columbus, adding, “Now those voids are being filled by this Islamic terrorist threat. . . . So our pulling back, it precipitated part of this problem.”

That point is strongly disputed by Obama, who told Vice News last month that the Islamic State “is a direct outgrowth of al-Qaeda in Iraq that grew out of our invasion. Which is an example of unintended consequences. Which is why we should generally aim before we shoot.”

Undeterred by public opinion polls that suggest his views are not shared by a majority of voters, Bush believes that global events might prompt Americans to eventually embrace his thinking. During an appearance in San Francisco in January, he accused Obama of exploiting America’s war fatigue to justify withdrawing U.S. military forces abroad.

“When you start beheading Americans in far-off lands because a void was created because we pulled back, guess what — people’s attitudes change about that pretty darn quick,” he said. “You can’t run foreign policy as a leader by following the polls. You have to persuade the American people — even if it is tough for them because of the economic situation — that we have to be engaged in the world.”

~~  Ed O’Keefe   ~~

Hillary Clinton, the Democrats’ Feminist Family Values Candidate

The Gilmer Free Press

Hillary Clinton’s campaign announcement on Sunday may mark the moment that the Democrats officially became the party of family values. Throughout the late 1970s, 1980s and into the 1990s, conservatives were remarkably successful at pummeling Democrats as foes of ordinary parents and their children. Progressives occasionally tried to argue that families are protected by economic justice and a stronger social safety net, not abortion bans and anti-gay demagoguery, but while this happens to be true, it often failed to resonate. Too many Americans blamed feminism and the sexual revolution—and, by extension, the left—for social and economic upheavals that had left them reeling. Ozzie and Harriet’s America was always a brief, half-imaginary historical anomaly, but a lot of people longed for it, and the right was able to weaponize that longing.
For a long time, Democrats flailed about trying to respond. Indeed, some of Bill Clinton’s most depressing acts of triangulation—firing Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders for her remarks on masturbation, signing the Defense of Marriage Act, ending Aid to Families With Dependent Children—involved trying to conform to a Republican definition of wholesomeness.
Now, though, we have finally moved past that. The surprisingly moving video announcing Hillary Clinton’s bid for the presidency shows that Democrats have finally found an authentic version of pro-family politics. Titled “Getting Started,” it features ordinary families preparing for milestones—a woman moving so her daughter can be in a better school district for kindergarten, a couple getting ready for a baby, a stay-at-home mom about to return to work, two men engaged to be married. “Everyday Americans need a champion, and I want to be that champion,” Clinton says.
The campaign announcement suggests that this will be a very different sort of Clinton campaign than we saw in 2008, one that emphasizes gender and so-called women’s issues instead of running from them. And whatever you think of Clinton, it’s a triumph of feminism—or, at least, a certain kind of feminism—that issues like family leave and childcare are about to be at the center of a presidential contest.
There is both historical irony and historical continuity in Hillary Clinton emerging as the standard-bearer for a family-focused progressivism. It’s ironic because throughout the 1990s, Clinton was demonized as a cookie-hating enemy of home and hearth. “When Bill and Hillary Clinton talk about family values, they are not talking about either families or values,” said Pat Robertson at the 1992 Republican National Convention. “They are talking about a radical plan to destroy the traditional family.“
At that convention, Republicans went out of their way to laud Marilyn Quayle, the vice president’s wife, for being what the New York Times called the “Un-Hillary,” a woman who’d given up her own legal career to serve her family. “Marguerite Sullivan, Mrs. Quayle’s chief of staff, was asked to draw distinctions between her boss and Mrs. Clinton,” said the Times. “’Marilyn Quayle is absolutely committed to her family,’ she replied. ‘She makes time for the children; she’s always home for dinner at 7 P.M.’”
In reality, however, Clinton was never any sort of family-scorning radical feminist. Indeed, however chameleon-like her public persona, concern for mothers and children has been a constant of her career, from her early work with the Children’s Defense Fund to her book It Takes a Village to her work in the State Department on maternal mortality. Contrary to the right’s caricature, Clinton’s feminism always had a distinctly maternalist bent.
And now her campaign will, too. This is a sign that her team has changed. Gone, thankfully, is the odious Mark Penn, who advised Clinton in 2008 that voters see presidents as father figures and did “not want someone who would be the first mama, especially in this kind of world.” More than that, though, it’s a sign that the country has changed. The rapid public embrace of gay marriage has turned it from a Republican wedge issue into a Democratic one, casting conservatives as the scowling enemies of loving couples who want to join the most bourgeois of all institutions. The rise of female breadwinners, and of women in the workforce more generally, has eroded the idea that “family” means a working father and a stay-at-home mother; family values thus no longer signifies retrograde social arrangements. Today, it’s more obvious than ever that it’s liberals who are fighting for women (and men) to be able to make time for their children and get home for dinner at a decent hour. It’s encouraging that Clinton is making this her banner, because it’s long been her cause.

~~  Michelle Goldberg ~~

Congress and White House Strike Deal on Iran Legislation

The Gilmer Free Press

A Senate committee voted unanimously Tuesday to give Congress the power to review a potential Iran nuclear deal after a June 30 negotiating deadline, in a compromise with the White House that allows President Obama to avoid possible legislative disapproval of the pact before it can be completed.

The bipartisan bill is likely to move quickly to the full Senate after the Foreign Relations Committee voted 19 to 0 to approve the measure. It would give Congress at least 30 days to consider an agreement after it was signed, before Obama could waive or suspend any congressionally mandated sanctions against Iran.

During that period, lawmakers could vote their disapproval of the agreement. Any such resolution would have to clear a relatively high bar to become law, requiring 60 votes to pass and 67, or two-thirds of the Senate, to override a presidential veto.

The compromise avoided a potentially destructive showdown between the White House and Congress, as well as a possible free-for-all of congressional action that Obama has said could derail the negotiations while they are underway. It followed extensive administration lobbying on Capitol Hill, including phone calls from Obama and a closed-door Senate meeting Tuesday morning with Secretary of State John F. Kerry and other senior officials.

While the administration was “not particularly thrilled” by the final result, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said before the vote, it was “the kind of compromise that the president would be willing to sign.”

In passing the legislation, Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) hailed the “true emergence” of bipartisanship on a crucial foreign policy issue, and he congratulated Congress for approving sanctions legislation in the first place that “brought Iran to the negotiating table.”

“Despite opposition from the White House all along,” Corker said in a statement released after the vote, he was proud of unanimous committee support for a measure that “will ensure the American people — through their elected representatives — will have a voice on any final deal with Iran, if one is reached.”

He said he was “confident” of even more bipartisan support in the full Senate and in the House, where Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has said he expects to move quickly on the issue.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told colleagues late Tuesday that the compromise bill “can be supported.”

Sen. Timothy M. Kaine (D-VA), a member of the committee, defined the compromise as a slight conditioning “of the president’s statutory power to waive or suspend congressional sanctions” in exchange for congressional agreement not to “weigh in until there’s a deal.”

“Why would Iran even make concessions to us if they had no idea when or if Congress would weigh in?” Kaine said in an interview.

Throughout the debate over the legislation, the administration insisted that Congress had no power to approve or disapprove any deal Obama made with Iran and could vote only on lifting the sanctions it had passed. Those sanctions, which include waiver provisions that Obama has now given up for at least 30 days, are just part of the long-standing restrictions against Iran, which include other sanctions imposed over the years by executive order that the president retains the right to waive. Still more sanctions have been imposed by the United Nations and the European Union.

The question of when sanctions would be waived or lifted under an agreement is still to be negotiated, and has been a subject of extensive political jousting between the United States and its five partners at the table — Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — and Iran.

A framework agreement between the two sides, signed April 02, indicated that no sanctions would be removed until Iran completed all the requirements of a deal — including intrusive inspections, along with sharp reductions in its ability to enrich uranium and other measures that the administration has said would block all its pathways to development of a nuclear weapon. The administration has estimated that it would take Iran at least six months to a year to complete those steps after a deal was signed.

Last week, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said his interpretation of the framework was that sanctions relief would come immediately after a final deal was signed.

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