WASHINGTON, D.C. — “This Iranian Nuclear deal is catastrophic,” Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz told a crowd of a few hundred people outside the U.S. Capitol Wednesday. “It is the single greatest national security threat facing America.”
If it goes through, he said, Iran will acquire nuclear weapons and Americans will die. “There is no greater threat to to safety and security of America” and of Israel than a nuclear Iran, he said.
Cruz is one of 54 Senate Republicans who have voiced their disapproval of President Barack Obama’s Iran deal. Forty-two Senate Democrats have come out in support of the deal, enough to potentially filibuster any measure of disapproval. Cruz and other prominent conservatives spoke at the rally, which was organized by the Tea Party Patriots months ago, before it was clear that Obama has enough votes in Congress to ensure the deal’s passage.
Republican candidate Donald Trump also spoke at the rally on Cruz’s invitation. He similarly criticized how the deal would abandon the four American hostages in Iran, saying he would ensure they come back to the United States if he wins the presidency. He said he has negotiated a lot of deals in his career but “never, ever in my life have I seen any transaction so incompetently negotiated.”
Like Cruz and Trump, attendees of the rally told ThinkProgress how they will still do anything possible to make sure it doesn’t pass, and discussed how they fear the future of America after it does go through.
Charles Lessin, a Richmond, Virginia resident, said he came to the rally to make sure people know that Obama cannot be trusted.
“He was on TV months ago saying that he would never support a deal that would lead to Iran getting a nuclear bomb,” he said. “That’s what this is. This is a deal that is laying the path for Iran to get a nuclear bomb. It’s disgraceful. The only thing more disgraceful is the president tricking us into this and duping his own party to support it.”
When asked what he hopes to happen given the congressional support for the deal, Lessin said he wants to make sure a vote still happens.
“I don’t want to see Congress pull its trickery again and prevent an actual vote from happening,” he said. “I want my kids to be able to see who voted for it and who voted against it. And I want to see where people stand so I know how to vote in the future.”
Lou Lentz and his wife drove from Cleveland, Ohio to Washington, D.C. to attend the rally. Like many other attendees, he said he fears Iran’s nuclear capabilities if the deal goes through.
“They’ll send nukes into Israel,” he said. “We’re looking at another world war as a result. It’ll probably be the last one because we’ll destroy the planet. We’re concerned for our children. There won’t be any United States when our kids grow up.”
He continued, raising his voice as an event organizer on stage led the crowd in chanting “Israel.”
“Even if the land mass is still here, we’ll probably be under Islamic rule,” he said. “I don’t want my kids being under Sharia law. I think that everyone here is here for the same reasons.”
Others came just to support Trump. Joseph Mills, a consultant living in Virginia, said he thinks Trump has the best economic policies and he’s “kind of like a one-issue voter.” He opposes the Iran Deal, but thinks a lot of the debate is just “hot air.” And he doesn’t mind that Trump hasn’t held elected office.
“We’ve got 435 people holding office right now and our economy is not great, so I don’t really think that holding elected office is a prerequisite to running for president,” Mills told ThinkProgress.
As for Trump’s racist and misogynistic comments, Mills said: “I haven’t been offended. He hasn’t said anything that would require him to go to jail.”