June 21st, 2009
12:05 PM ET
13 years ago

Senators weigh in on Iran

WASHINGTON (CNN) – A bipartisan group of four senators expressed support Sunday for the Iranians protesting in the country’s streets for the last week but differed over how the United States should react to the evolving situation.

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.

Filed under: Iran • State of the Union
soundoff (54 Responses)
  1. haren

    We should stay away from meddling in middle east, if we wanted to keep oil price down.
    Republican are looking for making money for their oil friends.

    June 21, 2009 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  2. skyhawkdriver

    Someone in the administration,preferably the president,with advice from the joint chiefs,on what to do about both iran and north korea..the world is becoming a very unsafe place to be on a daily basis..it is time for the government to stop sitting on their hands and do something..all of the tongue wagging and finger pointing isn't going to accomplish anything..and neither is the useless u.n.,which wouldn't exist without millions of american taxpayer dollars..

    June 21, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  3. Lynn

    Iranians know that republicans don't care about anything than their own party.

    This politicizing of the tragedy in Iran by politicians and the media is SICKENING.

    June 21, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  4. Fear based leaders/crooks

    Let's focus in on bringing the alleged war criminals in this country to trial. They are hiding in plain sight. Iran will have to deal with their own problems and we should deal with ours.

    June 21, 2009 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  5. Imarriedmy sister in TheOleSouth

    CNN now has their own Rush Limbaugh Show.Its the John King Hate Fest.

    June 21, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  6. Judith

    All the GOPs criticized President Obama on Iran.What else is new?

    Henry Kissinger who know more and Colin Powell has stated Obama is doing the right thing by not voicing too much while the GOPS lead the way opening their mouths once again.
    John McCain voiced his opinion about Obama but if he would remember that a video on you tube was going around on him with him laughing singing the song of Baraba Ann except he was singing Bomb,bomb,bomb,bomb Iran.In fact the Beach Boys had a song about it showing many pictures.

    Let President Obama do his thing because he has ones that know the Real Iran and it's people.They are the ones that have to decide who will be their President and the afterworks.It's sad but it's their Country and they understand the ways of Iran.Obama is the one that will have to deal with the new President who ever it will be.He doesn't need negative Senators that criticize him on everything who is the Party of No.If they would be working more with him instead of using just their voice America will become strong once again.

    June 21, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  7. S Callahan

    Can anyone see the Biblcal turths of God's words coming to pass within Iran? God is no fool and always has the upper hand. Man can make their comments all they want but the direction of this rest purely with God who desires all to know his love.

    June 21, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  8. Barbara Shelley

    I am permantly disabled. The bills for my healthcare are astronomical. I have been unable to work and most everything without help, Medicare and my supplement has been saving my life. I have important relationships with my doctors.
    I wonder if the new health care bills being sent to Congress takes into effect the Medicare program. And more troublesom to me, is this the end of the "Mom and Pop""doctors. Are we moving into a position that wil provide cheap prices very little service like Walmart. Will this be called Health Mart??

    June 21, 2009 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  9. danel

    Now all of the sudden republicans care about democracy in Iran? How come you overtrow the democratically elected president of Iran during the early 50's? Supported Saddam during the Iraq/Iran war that cost lives on both sides for 8 long years. Giving saddam nuclear weapons to use agains the Iranians. The president is right. Do not meddle in Iranian affairs. If the president meddle asll Arab nations will be suspecious on the motives especially Iran's oil wealth. This is not about nuclear weapons. After all Americans supported the shah getting the nuclear weapons in the first place. How come nobody question that then? Because the shah was giving Israel oil. Look up the oil pipeline connected Iran to Israel during the shah's regime.

    June 21, 2009 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  10. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia in CA

    They weren't for Democracy in Florida in 2000 or Minnesota in 2008 to present.

    Who the hell are they kidding besides themselves. A bunch of fools.

    June 21, 2009 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  11. Jim

    I think the GOP needs to look at the videos again. Protesters have been throwing rocks and setting things on fire. That's not what the USA believes in as far as "free speech", so blanket endorsements of the protests are inappropriate.

    If we really want Iran to have a government representing the will of the *Iranian* people, then we have the let the *Iranians* figure out what from of government they want and then let them have it. We absolutely can not support only the side the we perceive as pro-USA. If we do then we aren't supporting democracy, we are looking for the next Shah.

    June 21, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  12. Donkey Party

    Anyone else see the elephant in the room (GOP mascot pun intended as well)? NOBODY takes theses right-wingers seriously. They lost all credibility on this topic when they blasted President Obama for wanting to open a dialogue with the Iranians, and then inserted their other foot in their mouths when they let Mr. "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, Iran" McAncient spearhead their political grandstanding charge in the senate. These people are a joke. I personally would love to slap that orange tan off of Boner's (yeah, I know how to spell it) face, and the deer in headlights look off of Cantors. And while I would also like to take a swing at McConnell, I just couldn't because his eerie countenance looks like cold oatmeal.

    June 21, 2009 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  13. james

    I think the President has played this one right.
    And, I still think that when the dust has settled, Obama should reach out to the real powers in charge in Iran and play Ahmadinejad as the charade that he is.
    Encourage Khamenei to the table and see what their made of. We can dictate circumstances better then they can. Would he not be willing? Would he hide behind Ahmadinejad?
    At the very least we could fluster them to no end. Khamenei seems to be proceeding very carefully. Ahmadinejad is already claiming he was misquoted. He sounds like one of our politicians.

    June 21, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  14. once upon a horse

    there are Iranians over there already chanting "DEATH TO AMERICA" when President Obama had chosen not to comment or make any type of endorsement over their election......could you imagine what they would be doing if he HAD?? Republicans are so busy trying to make brownie points with their right wing base being in opposition of this administration that they aren't thinking correctly.

    June 21, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  15. Neilz

    I think it's unconscionable members of Congress choose to play political games with this issue. Any chance the ruling class gets to paint the protests as linked in any way to the US or it's allies will give them cause to start disappearing people. It's already begun.Five relatives of former President Ali Akhar Hashemi Rafsanjani were arrested. His daughter was arrested but later released.
    Isn't there any way to get these loudmouthed political opportunists to shut-up?

    June 21, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  16. D, NJ

    Even Iranian citizens were posting on how they think President Obama is doing the right thing. He's aware of the country's culture and our troubled foreign relations with Iran. Active support would only affirm the current government's propaganda that the West is interfering again and undercut the momentum of the protests. They want us to be their eyewitnesses, not their supposed saviors. It is a civil conflict that can only be settled by their own people. Anything more would only remind them of the US assisting the Shah, and hurt current protests.

    June 21, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  17. DL

    I agree something needs to be done in terms of N. Korea, however any involvement we have in Iran will only make things worse. Obama chose the right approach, any intervention or support from the U.S. would only polarize the opposition and continue to inflame that part of the world. And like it or not, in terms of N. Korea, he is also taking the right approach there....he's trying to rebuild our reputation in the world and not playing "cowboy". Face the facts militarily if something did happen in N. Korea do you honestly think we could be in a position to do anything considering the pressures our current military are under? Anything that happens in N. Korea will have to be a joint venture, and you can NOT accomplish that snubbing your nose to the world and showing arrogance. Its time we worked with other country's and stopped this mentality of policing the world. We simply aren't capable of it anymore.

    June 21, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  18. Gabe

    When the U.S. had their internal conflicts, other countries didn't get involved? When the U.S. decided to give women and black equal freedom and all the horrible things that happened in the streets, did other countries get involved? No, because it was our own internal struggles to grow as a country. Let other countries grow and define themselves, it's not up to us to decide their fates for them. Aren't we in too many wars already?

    June 21, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  19. HellsEye

    If the republicans had as much intelligence as bluster, they'd be in the white house...

    June 21, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  20. Alfred E. Neumann

    This is the same country that took our embassy workers hostage!

    Let them kill themselves as long as they sell cheap oil!

    I could care less and so could most Americans.

    Only 17 dead yesterday – they are not trying hard enough.

    June 21, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  21. Hank in Seattle

    The hard-line policies followed by the GOP the last eight years certainly worked well, didn't they? Tell me again why this predictable knee-jerking should drive our foreign policy?

    A calmer, more moderate – dare I say, mature – approach is beginning to bear fruit. Lets try to keep our politics in our metaphorical pants and maybe avoid screwing it up as badly as the GOP did in the past administration.

    June 21, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  22. Claudette Chin

    The critics of President Obama's position on Iran must remember that the so called "tough approach" or the "big stick approach" has not worked. It has not worked with North Korea, it has not worked with Iran.
    They must also remember that Israel's overwhelming use of force has not worked with the Palestinians.
    It is time for a different approach. Is it any wonder that the journalists and the diplomats who are very familiar with the issues and the cultures of the different countries all say the President's response is just right.?
    Claudette Chin

    June 21, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  23. skyhawkdriver

    Yo marcia marcia..since when was this blog about past elections??..if memory serves me right..your hero in 2000 mr global warming al the bore did not win his home state..need I go on??so stop whining and move on with your life..this blog is about nuclear prolifiration and the threat of iran and it's unstable regime..so put down your bon-bons..shut off the oprah re-runs and start contributing to life

    June 21, 2009 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  24. Wanderer

    The GOP can lead the free world with mouth or bombs without reasonable logics. The wise one wouldn’t mind other’s business while there are still many domestic issues need to be resolved. It is a good chance for the people of Iran to fight for their own freedom. We could lead the free world if there were a free world i.e. if we want to lead the free Iran, Iran must be a free nation first. We can’t fight for their own freedom unless they ask for help. Words from mouth do not cook rice.

    June 21, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  25. Deborah Black

    Republicans want a show down with Iran, no matter what happens. The only way they know to keep power, is to continually find bad evil people that they need to kill, or America will not be safe. They need to stop and let President Obama handle it, as his prioirty is obviously the welfare of the Iranian people and not wanting to contribute to their slaughter by their own government. We are letting the world see what the Iranian Government is; and they can not blame us.

    June 21, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
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