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High-stakes lobbying on Iran nuclear deal

Deb Riechmann
Associated Press

Washington — The lobbying fight is on over the pact that the U.S. and other world powers just signed with Iran. The State Department said Sunday it had submitted the agreement to Congress, kicking off a 60-day review period on Monday.

Multimillion-dollar ad campaigns are underway by politically influential groups. Some echo the views of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a staunch opponent of the agreement with Iran, which has threatened to annihilate his nation.

Vice President Joe Biden was on Capitol Hill twice last week for arm-twisting sessions with Democrats. Secretary of State John Kerry and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz — key U.S. negotiators — are set to brief lawmakers this coming week, and they blanketed the Sunday news shows.

“I hope there are enough minds still open, ready to consider this on its merits, that could be persuaded,” Kerry told “Fox News Sunday.”

President Barack Obama used his weekend radio address to try to counter what he predicted would be “a lot of overheated and often dishonest arguments” in the weeks ahead about the agreement, and he sent Defense Secretary Ash Carter to talk with officials in Israel as well as Jordan and Saudi Arabia, U.S. allies whose leaders also are worried about the deal’s implications.

The White House knows that the vote to approve or disapprove the deal, expected in September, puts Democrats, especially Jewish members of Congress, in a bind.

The hawkish American Israel Public Affairs Committee is waging an all-hands-on-deck campaign to convince lawmakers that they should reject the deal. AIPAC and other groups and individuals are supporting Citizens for a Nuclear-Free Iran, which on Friday began a multimillion-dollar national TV and digital ad campaign against the accord.

“Democrats should be especially concerned because the deal increases the chances of war, will spur a nuclear arms race and rewards an Iran with a horrific human rights record,” spokesman Patrick Dorton said.

Netanyahu, asked on CBS’ “Face the Nation” whether he would lobby members of Congress, replied: “I feel it’s my obligation as the prime minister of Israel to speak out against something that endangers the survival of my country, the security of the region, the security of the world.”

New York Rep. Steve Israel, the highest ranking Jewish Democrat in the House, said House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi’s endorsement of the deal will be, “very influential.” Add the nod from Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton and “it’s a pretty damn good one-two punch” in favor, he said.