Cue up the talking points.

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The Iran Deal and U.S. Politics

Jonathan Bernstein is a Bloomberg View columnist. He taught political science at the University of Texas at San Antonio and DePauw University and wrote A Plain Blog About Politics.
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How will the interim framework agreement with Iran play out in U.S. politics?

  • President Barack Obama is extremely unlikely to get a short-term public opinion bounce from the deal announced today that outlines next steps in curbing Iran's nuclear program.
    Such gains primarily occur when out-party opinion leaders support the president's actions. Bombing Iran might have generated a short-term temporary approval bump, but it’s hard to game out longer-term effects in this case. 
    In general, my guess is that the less national security issues are in the news, the better for the president. 
  • Most Republican presidential candidates will oppose the deal and try to out-tough one another, though without making a commitment to a full-out invasion of Iran. 
    The outlier is Rand Paul, whose prospects will continue to suffer, even as  peace provides excellent fodder for the party's hawks.
    So to the extent the agreement holds, it should tend to help candidates willing to call for military intervention. 
  • Hillary Clinton: The all-but-certain Democratic nominee can now demonstrate the advantages of her hold on the nomination. Republican candidates will rush to condemn Obama's policy . Yet in doing so they risk saying things that will come back to haunt them during the general election, while Clinton can afford to be mealy-mouthed and to wait and  see whether this deal on principles leads to an agreement on specifics, and then how it plays out in practice.
    Expect a Clinton statement supporting the general goals outlined today, but withholding full support while she studies the details. 
    Her muted support will be further evidence that the Democratic Party has very little leverage to force an uncontested candidate to strongly support any deal negotiated by the administration. And to the extent that there are internal disagreements among Democrats over the issue of Iran, there has been no opportunity to fight it out when leverage over the candidate is highest, that is, is when the nomination is in doubt.  
    Of course, if Clinton were to come out strongly against something most Democratic actors support, they could still attempt to dump her, but that won't happen if she sticks to generalities and waits.

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