US Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) speaks at the Netroots Nation annual conference for political progressives in New Orleans, Louisiana, US, August 3, 2018.
(photo credit: JONATHAN BACHMAN/REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey was the only candidate who refused to commit to re-entering the Iran nuclear deal on Wednesday during the first 2020 Democratic debate of the presidential campaign.
Ten candidates, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, New York Mayor Bill De Blasio and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, faced off around issues such as healthcare, gun laws, abortion and immigration.
When NBC’s moderators asked the candidates who would rejoin the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – known as the Iran nuclear deal – all of them raised their hands except for Booker.
“We need to renegotiate and get back into a deal, but I’m not going to have a primary platform to say unilaterally I’m going to rejoin that deal,” said Booker. “When I’m president of the United States, I’m going to do the best I can to secure this country and that region, and make sure that if I have an opportunity to leverage a better deal, I’m going to do it.
“One of the reasons why we’re seeing this hostility now is because [President] Donald Trump is marching us towards a far more dangerous situation,” he continued. “Literally, he took us out of the deal that gave us transparency into their nuclear program and pushed back a nuclear breakout 10 to 20 years.”
He said that today we are seeing Iran threatening to further develop its program and “we’re being pulled in, further and further into this crisis.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota said that the deal “was imperfect, but it was a good deal for that moment.” She said that she would work to extend the sunset clause in the agreement, “and that’s something we could negotiate – how to get back in the deal.”
She said that Trump committed to establishing a better deal. Instead, “we are a month away from – the Iranians claim now that they’re going to blow the cabs on enriching uranium. He has made us less safe than we were when he became president.”
Klobuchar added that she would renegotiate the United States back into that agreement and stand with its allies, “and not give unlimited leverage to China and Russia, which is what he has done.
“I would make sure that, if there is any possibility of a conflict, he comes to Congress for an authorization of military force,” she said. “This president is literally every single day, 10 minutes away from going to war – one tweet away from going to war – and I don’t think we should conduct foreign policy in our bathrobe at five in the morning.”
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii went after Trump as well, saying that, “this president and his chicken-hawk cabinet have led us to the brink of war with Iran.”
“I served in the war in Iraq at the height of the war in 2005, a war that took over 4,000 of my brothers and sisters in uniforms’ lives,” she noted. “The American people need to understand that this war with Iran would be far more devastating, far more costly than anything that we ever saw in Iraq. It would take many more lives. This would turn into a regional war. This is why it’s so important that every one of us – every single American – stands up and says, ‘no war with Iran,’” she said.
“We need to get back into the Iran nuclear agreement, and we need to negotiate how we can improve it.”
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