Politics of START, 2012-style
December 18th, 2010
01:41 PM ET
12 years ago

Politics of START, 2012-style

Washington (CNN) - The proposed nuclear arms treaty with Russia, the New START, is now a political football of sorts, entering into the 2012 lexicon.

While the bill remains a point of contention between Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill where the Senate has yet to vote on the measure, some potential 2012 GOP presidential candidates are staking out their positions.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin said the treaty is not in America's best interest because while the Russians are allowed to increase their nuclear arsenal, the bill requires the U.S. to reduce the number of its nuclear weapons, a charge the White House denies.

"It should not be rammed through in the lame duck session using behind the scenes deal-making reminiscent of the tactics used in the health care debate," Palin wrote in "The National Review" on Friday. "If I had a vote, I would oppose this deeply flawed treaty submitted to the Senate."

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney also equated the treaty to the health-care reform bill passed earlier this year and said there should be no hurry to pass the legislation, an opinion held by many Senate Republicans.

"A treaty so critical to our national security deserves a careful, deliberative look by the men and women America has just elected," Romney wrote in the Boston Globe. "The president is in a hurry for the same reason he has been in a hurry before: he knows that if his vaunted treaty is given a thorough review by the Senate, it will likely be rejected. And well it should be."

In an email to supporters, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich wrote that it would be "dangerous and irresponsible" to pass the treaty before the new Congress takes their oaths in January.

"We must stop the rushed consideration of a treaty that threatens to compromise America's right of self defense," Gingrich wrote Friday. "Once we've rejected the Left, we must start in January to replace their obsolete ideology and policies with a new model of safety, prosperity and freedom."

President Obama used his weekly television and Web address to encourage a vote on the measure. He said failure to pass the bill would serve to undermine American leadership and turn back the progress made with Russia.

"Ratifying a treaty like START isn't about winning a victory for an administration or a political party. It's about the safety and security of the United States of America," Obama said. "It's time to get this done. It's time to show the same spirit of common purpose on our security that we showed this week on our economy."

An amendment by the GOP's last presidential nominee, Arizona Sen. John McCain failed Saturday. McCain has argued that the treaty would limit defense options for the U.S. and his provision proposed striking a section of the preamble on missile defense. Proponents of the treaty said the McCain amendment guts it.

The Senate will remain in session Sunday to continue debating the bill that stalled in the chamber Thursday night when members chose to address other issues including the DREAM Act and repeal of the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the armed forces.

The treaty would resume mutual inspections of U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals while limiting both nations to 1,550 warheads and 700 launchers each.

It cleared the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in September and is endorsed by leading Republican figures, including former President George H.W. Bush, five former secretaries of state and Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar, who serves as ranking minority member of the Senate committee.

Democratic Senators John Kerry of Massachusetts and Bill Nelson of Florida and Lugar have said the bill would pass if the Senate votes. But Republicans want more time to debate the bill and offer substantive amendments.

According to a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, 70 percent of those polled support passing the bill, 25 percent do not support passage and 5 percent are unsure. The nationwide survey was conducted December 9 through 13 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percent.

- CNN's Peter Hamby, Paul Steinhauser and Ed Hornick contributed to this report

Filed under: 2012 • Congress • Senate • START treaty
soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Holly

    Who cares what Sarah Palin says?!?!? Last time I check she is NOT a senator or even a public servant. I understand wanting people to read your story through but shouldn't the most important information be first? Not just using Palin as a way to sensationalize your story? It is ironic that Palin probably gets more attention then what the START treaty actually is.

    December 18, 2010 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  2. dave

    i agree that we need time to consider this bill. where did the time go? the senate works about 42 weeks ayear. mitch mcconnell filabustered 87 times in 2010. that works out to be 2 filabusters a week! seldom do american voters put 60 senators from the same party in power in the senate . 60 votes to do anything is the founding fathers way of making people work to gether or they could not see that this country would become a 2 party system. this fact seems to be above the brain power of mitch mcconnell to deal with or he just does not want to except the facts before him. all the senators that voted for the filabuster actions who now complain about working extra days at christmas time did it to them selves! the real sad part is some of these filabusters were to block a bill from even coming to the senate floor to even debait the issue. if the senate wants time to do the peoples business than mitch mcconnell has to go because the next 2 years will be more of the same and mitch mcconnell will deal 1 on 1 with the president cuting out totally the votes of all congressman and their input! we will become a two man goverment inplace of a three branch goverment! senators are sent there to work not to stop the senate from working!

    December 18, 2010 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  3. Dave

    The obstruction of the GOP is sickening. There are over 200 bills that the GOP have filibustered. The GOP stated that Obama did nothing but to hurt the country, the GOP should look in the mirror. Just remember GOP, what comes around, goes around

    December 18, 2010 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  4. dave

    three pictures! one is a tv pop star who says very little one is a republican who has the smarts to be a president and one is two timming hipocrite of a lier who tried to take over a country by saying" that he did not need the president to do what he wanted to do". is two od these people the new face of the republican party?

    December 18, 2010 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  5. Peter

    The United States and Russia have tens of thousands of Nuclear Weapons around the world and the START Treaty seeks to reduce this number by a small fraction.

    It would take about 100 of these weapons to end life on Earth.

    Bottom Line: We don't need very many nukes and any additions to the U.S. arsenal is fiscally and fundamentally irresponsible.

    December 18, 2010 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  6. AZ DEM

    Of course another piece of common sense legislation is questioned to no end led by old man McCain. It's just another attempt to rob the Obama administration any chance of a political victory. Any argument to the contrary is just a sorry excuse we don't need the world's largest nuclear arsenal...oh wait WE ALREADY DO so what are we afraid of?

    December 18, 2010 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  7. GonzoinHouston

    If they wanted more time to debate the bill then they should have opened debate a YEAR AGO WHEN THE TREATY WAS AGREED UPON. The treaty has been held up by Republican obstruction and filibuster all year long. As far as studying it is concerned, both sides have plenty of analysis available. Once again the GOP has chosen to pursue political advantage at the expense of national security. And these guys claim that they're the ones that really love their country??

    December 18, 2010 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  8. Greg in Cabot, AR

    Makes one wonder WHY Palin, Newt & Rhomney are pandering to the 25% that oppose passage of START, unless they want to wait for the "new" republicans to vote for it rather than give credit to Obama for doing something that helps protect the country now.

    December 18, 2010 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  9. Tom

    I imagine their concern is not even for American security, it's for whatever company gets fat payments to build and maintain atomic weapons.
    If we cannot defend ourselves with over a thousand weapons capable of destroying a city or an armored division each, distributed across seven hundred launch systems, then I don't think we're going to be able to do it with tens of thousands.

    December 18, 2010 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  10. BJ

    I can understand the two men in your photo, but Palin doesn't know anything about anything and I absolutely am insulted that you, CNN, thinks that everyone is as stupid and unformed as this woman who cannot write her own tweets because she doesn't know the English language. Is this really how you expect America to excel by glorifying ignorance. This woman will not answer questions because she knows nothing. They only thing she does well in rallying the RACIST base. Is that where America is going? The world must be laughing at us if this your way to say this is our best and brightest? I am through with your blogs and everything else about you and folks that have any sense should boycott your station and sponsers until you can drop the petty promotion of this person.

    December 18, 2010 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  11. jeb

    When you read the linked NR article it is clear that it was ghost written. It is made of complete sentences. SP could not have written it.

    December 18, 2010 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |