California Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Iran’s leadership “threw the gauntlet to the people, essentially.”
“When there was a way out for the Supreme Leader,” by voiding the recent election and calling for a new one, Feinstein said, “instead, what you have is a total put-down by the leadership of what began as a legitimate protest which has now turned into much more than that because of the brutality that the regime has shown to its people.”
Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley joined a chorus of fellow Republicans who have criticized how President Obama is responding to the political unrest in Iran.
“I believe we could be more forceful than we have,” Grassley said. “If America stands for democracy and all of these demonstrations are going on in Tehran and other cities over there and the people don’t think that we really care, then obviously they’re going to question: do we really believe in our principles?”
Pennsylvania Democrat Sen. Bob Casey, a longtime Obama supporter, disagreed.
“I think [President Obama’s] gotten it just right,” Casey told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King. “At this moment in the history of Iran, we should not politicize this issue here in the United States. The key thing here is striking the right balance – telling those who are protesting that we share their values but also making sure that we keep our eye on the ball here.”
After saying that Iran’s nuclear program is the biggest threat to American security and security in the Middle East, Casey said he thought the best approach to Iran was “to leave every option on the table,” including tough diplomacy and the possibility of sanctions against the Iranian regime.”
Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar, the Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said notwithstanding the political unrest, the United States should sit down for diplomatic talks with Iran’s leaders if they were interested in high-level talks.