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NH Democrat’s First Move as Senate Candidate: Endorse Iran Deal

Gov. Maggie Hassan breaks silence on ‘imperfect agreement’ after entering race Monday

Maggie Hassan
Gov. Maggie Hassan / AP
• October 6, 2015 5:00 am

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New Hampshire Democrat Maggie Hassan opened her campaign for the U.S. Senate by announcing her support for the nuclear deal with Iran.

Hassan, the state’s governor since 2012, endorsed the deal soon after declaring her candidacy for the Senate seat held by Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte.

"I’ve concluded that this imperfect agreement is the best possible option to prevent Iran from having a nuclear weapon," she told local TV station WMUR on Monday.

The deal has garnered bipartisan opposition for its perceived leniency on the Iranian regime. The terms of the agreement allow Iran to receive $100 billion in unfrozen assets and remove the conventional arms embargo and ballistic missile embargo within several years. The deal also allows Iran to self-inspect its own nuclear facilities rather than independent or third party inspections. It will also remove companies and officials previously implicated in terrorism from sanctions lists.

The deal drew opposition from Democrats, including Sens. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.), Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.), Ben Cardin (D., Md.), and Robert Menendez (D., N.J.). Hassan’s opponent, Sen. Ayotte, is one of the fiercest opponents of the agreement. The first term GOP senator, who sits on the Homeland Security Committee, condemned it at the outset, saying it could spur "more nuclear proliferation throughout the Middle East."

"Initial reports indicate the deal falls dangerously short of protecting our national security interests in several critical areas and ultimately fails to dismantle Iran’s nuclear program," Ayotte said in a July statement. "The agreement appears to be an historic capitulation on Iran’s nuclear program and support for terrorism in that it fails to fully guarantee unfettered ‘anytime, anywhere’ inspections at any suspect site—including military bases—necessary to confirm Iran’s compliance; lifts the U.N. arms embargo and missile sanctions based on arbitrary dates; and legitimizes Iran’s enrichment program—potentially spurring more nuclear proliferation throughout the Middle East."

Hassan had been weighing her option for months and was courted by national Democrats to challenge Ayotte. She announced her candidacy with a YouTube video posted Monday morning, saying she would bring her gubernatorial ideology to Washington. Hassan had previously dodged foreign policy questions, including calls from the state Republican Party to weigh in on the Iran deal when it was announced in July.

Iranian watchdog groups have called on the Senate to reject the agreement negotiated by the Obama administration and Secretary of State John Kerry. Noah Pollak, executive director of the Emergency Committee for Israel, said that Hassan demonstrated questionable judgment by endorsing the deal so quickly.

"New Hampshire voters like American voters understand that the Iran deal is dangerous for our security and that of our allies," Pollak said. "Hassan Rouhani and the Iranian regime will cheat on the deal and make fools of its supporters."

Hassan assured WMUR she would personally work to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

"As long as I have anything to do with it, Iran will never have a nuclear weapon. That’s one of the reasons I’m running for United States Senate," she said.