Obama trying to sell Mich. residents on Iran nuke deal

David Shepardson
Detroit News Washington Bureau

President Barack Obama sought to convince Michigan residents to back a deal to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon — with Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, a key undecided vote.

Obama gave brief interviews to several TV stations across the country on Wednesday — including with WXYZ (Channel 7), an ABC affliate in Metro Detroit. It was the first local TV interview Obama has granted to a Michigan station in several years.

But Obama faced skepticism from reporter Carolyn Clifford, who questioned if people care. “Detroit is a long way from Iran, of course, so a lot of people in my hometown really don’t understand this deal — and I mean no disrespect when I say they don’t really care about this deal,” she told Obama.

“My message to them is that this is as important a decision as Congress is going to make during my presidency,” Obama told the TV station. “A lot of people didn’t care about what happened in Iraq until suddenly we were in a war that cost us thousands of lives and trillions of dollars. What we’ve been able to do is organize the entire world community to force Iran to the negotiating table and now have a deal that ensures that they don’t get a nuclear weapon.”

On Tuesday, a 29th senator, Democrat Patty Murray of Washington, came out in favor of the deal. Sen. Debbie Stabenow on Monday said she will back an Obama administration deal aimed at preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon as the White House works to convince the final half-dozen Democrats to uphold the deal. Stabenow was the 28th U.S. Senate Democrat to back the deal; Obama needs the support of at least 34 Democrats to prevent Republicans from overturning the deal.

Also Monday, Democratic Reps. Brenda Lawrence of Southfield and Debbie Dingell of Dearborn said they would support the deal; they were the last remaining Michigan House Democrats who were undecided.

Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, hasn’t said if he will back the deal. Two Democrats — Sens. Charles Schumer of New York and Robert Menendez of New Jersey — have said they will oppose the deal.

Liberal groups are pressing Peters to back the deal. Peters spokeswoman Amber Moon said there was no update on his deliberations.

Opponents need to muster two-thirds of the House and Senate to block the deal.