Obama Denies Portraying Republicans Opposing Iran Deal As Warmongers

President Obama
President Obama / AP
August 31, 2015

President Obama denied ever likening Republican opponents of the Iran deal to warmongers during an interview with the Jewish publication the Forward published Monday, stressing that we must avoid using "incendiary language" to describe critics of the deal.

Obama particularly dismissed claims he contributed to any negative atmosphere surrounding the nuclear deal's opponents by describing them as those who advocate for war.

"What I said is that if we reject the deal, the logical conclusion is that if we want to prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, military strikes will be the last option remaining at some point," Obama said. "It may not be under my administration; it might be under the next one. And that is something that has to be taken into account."

The president echoed the same argument days earlier in a webcast with Jewish groups as he continued to push the Iran deal and try to sell it to individuals concerned about Israel.

Nevertheless, in July, Obama described the most fervent critics of the deal in Congress as "the same folks who were so quick to go to war in Iraq and said it would take a few months."

"We’re hearing the echoes of some of the same policies and mindset that failed us in the past," Obama said during a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Pittsburgh.

During his conversation with the Forward, however, the president cautioned against using negative language to suggest critics of the deal do not have America’s best interests at heart.

"I do get disturbed sometimes when I hear folks suggesting that those who oppose the deal are pro-Israel. We’re all pro-Israel," Obama said. "I think we have to steer away from incendiary language that suggests that either those who are in favor of the deal are appeasing Iran or, conversely, that those who are opposed to the deal are not thinking about America’s interest."

The president also said he is personally hurt when people call him anti-Semitic for supporting the deal with Iran to which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is opposed.

"There’s not a smidgen of evidence for it, other than the fact that there have been times when I’ve disagreed with a particular Israeli government’s position on a particular issue," Obama said.

Over the weekend, Netanyahu said the nuclear deal will allow Iran to fund terrorism by providing the country billions of dollars in sanctions relief.

"Iran will get hundreds of billions of dollars from sanctions relief and investments to fuel its aggression and terrorism in the Middle East and North Africa and beyond," Netanyahu said during a visit to Florence.

Obama characterized the debate over the deal with Iran in the United States and Israel as a family fight.

"[S]ometimes fights within families and among friends can be more heated than fights with people that you don’t care about--it’s been true in my family, anyway," Obama told the Forward. "And so even over the next several weeks, as we get to the conclusion of the congressional debate, I think it is important for everybody to just take a breath for a moment and recognize that people on both sides of the debate love the United States and also love Israel."

Meanwhile, a growing majority of Americans said they want Congress to reject the nuclear deal at the end of its 60-day review period.