Presidential Hopefuls React to the Iran Framework Deal

Reactions to the framework, announced Thursday, range from cautious to critical.

Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, listens during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, March 11, 2015. Secretary of State John Kerry said the Obama administration's proposed authorization for the military campaign against Islamic State would let the U.S. "speak with a single powerful voice at this pivotal hour."

Photographer: Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Obama called Thursday's framework deal with Iran "historic," but reactions from many of the prospective 2016 presidential candidates have ranged from cautiously optimistic (at best) to downright hostile. 

Marco Rubio

Senator Rubio, a Florida Republican, said in a statement Thursday that while he looked forward to see what specific terms Iran has agreed to "the initial details appear to be very troubling," adding that the deal was an "attempt to spin diplomatic failure as a success." 

Rubio was one of the few members of Congress to point out specific parts of the deal that he disagreed with. "Among other issues, allowing Iran to retain thousands of centrifuges, keeping facilities such as Fordow open and not limiting Iran’s ballistic missile program indicate to me that this deal is a colossal mistake," the statement read. Rubio said that he would work with his colleagues "to continue to ensure that any final agreement, if reached, is reviewed by Congress and that additional sanctions continue to be imposed on Iran until it completely gives up its nuclear ambitions and the regime changes its destructive behavior."

Hillary Clinton

Secretary of State John Kerry's predecessor hailed the deal as an "important step," but also sounded words of caution. 

"President Obama and Secretary Kerry have been persistent and determined in pursuit of this goal, building on a decade of bipartisan pressure and diplomacy. Getting the rest of the way to a final deal by June won’t be easy, but it is absolutely crucial," Clinton said in a statement. "I know well that the devil is always in the details in this kind of negotiation.  So I strongly support President Obama and Secretary Kerry’s efforts between now and June to reach a final deal that verifiably cuts off all of Iran’s paths to a nuclear weapon, imposes an intrusive inspection program with no sites off limits, extends breakout time, and spells out clear and overwhelming consequences for violations.  The onus is on Iran and the bar must be set high.  It can never be permitted to acquire a nuclear weapon." 

Jeb Bush

In a statement issued by his Right to Rise PAC, Bush said that based on "reported details" of the deal, he could not support it. "Nothing in the deal described by the administration this afternoon would justify lifting US and international sanctions, which were the product of many years of bipartisan effort," Bush said. "I cannot stand behind such a flawed agreement."

Scott Walker

The Wisconsin governor accused Obama of "walking away from his own red lines" in a statement released late Thursday. 

"President Obama is telling us to trust him when it comes to the Islamic Republic of Iran, and to ignore its chants of 'death to America' and its destructive role in the region. But over six years of his failed foreign policy have eroded this trust," Walker said in the statement. "History and common sense tell us that we should remain distrustful of Iran, walk away from a bad deal that does not keep Americans safe, and work with Congress and our allies to increase pressure on Iran. I hope the president listens to us."

Rick Perry

Soon after news of the framework deal was announced, Perry tweeted that Americans have a right to be skeptical of the deal.

Carly Fiorina

Fiorina co-authored a Fox News op-ed with Lieutenant General Michael T. Flynn slamming the deal, which she argued that the U.S. cannot trust Iran based on its past behavior. "Until Iran is prepared to (and opens its nuclear facilities to) full and unfettered UN-sanctioned inspections and demonstrates that they are willing to halt uranium enrichment, we cannot place any trust in any deal that is made," Fiorina and Flynn wrote. 

The op-ed argues that the agreement is a "capitulation by Washington" full of "untenable concessions." "This is not an agreement which will make Americans proud," Fiorina and Flynn wrote. 

Lindsey Graham

At first blush, Graham hedged his bets on whether the deal would prove acceptable. 

Less than an hour later, however, Graham released a full statement in which he began to take a more critical tone. 

"While I will reserve judgment until the details are known, it is notable how far from the White House's initial negotiating principals we appear to be," Graham said, adding that it is "imperative that Congress review any deal before it is finalized and before congressional sanctions are lifted."

Ben Carson

The retired neurosurgeon released a statement Thursday in which he concluded that the deal showed that "Iranians are superior negotiators" to the United States. 

"After months of what President Obama deems 'tough, principled diplomacy,' the United States has still solely achieved a 'framework for a deal' whose key details will be finalized over the next three months. Over the past few months of negotiations, it is the Iranian side which has achieved the most after all of the talks. Only a framework for a future potential deal has been achieved, while the Iranians have simultaneously increased their capability to enrich uranium," Carson said. "When negotiations resume, Iran will then insist on restarting the negotiations at a beginning stage with limited progress, if any. While Iran's installed centrifuges will be reduced from 19,000 to 6,000, it is unclear why certain provisions differ in terms of an expiration date, ranging from 10 years, 15 years, 25 years and 'indefinitely.'"

Bernie Sanders

Senator Sanders, an Independent from Vermont, said in a statement that "[w]hile much more work remains to be done this framework is an important step forward." He added that he looks "forward to examining the details of this agreement and making sure that it is effective and strong."

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