Top Senate Democrat Dismissive of Rouhani Victory
WASHINGTON – The Ranking Democratic member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ben Cardin (D-MD) minimized the victory of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani who won the country’s elections on Friday. “I don’t believe their elections are free and fair. They certainly don’t have a democratic government. The Supreme Leader controls just about everything in that country,” Cardin told Jewish Insider. “It doesn’t give me great hope whoever would have been elected. Their conduct before and after the Iran nuclear agreement shows anything but that they want to join the international community.”
News reports described Rouhani’s reelection as a “victory for moderates” in CNN’s coverage of his contest against hardline challenger Ebrahim Raisi. The Iranian President signed the nuclear agreement with former President Barak Obama while continuing to support terrorist groups across the region including Hezbollah and backing the tyrannical Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.
Speaking after a lunch celebrating American Jewish Heritage Month on Tuesday afternoon, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) offered a more optimistic view of the outcome in Tehran. He explained to Jewish Insider, “It seems to be a more moderate Iranian segment of leadership, but the hardliners still have significant strength so we can’t be complacent.” When asked about the impartiality of Iran’s elections, the Connecticut lawmaker responded, “Freer and fairer than they might have been and had been in the past.”
Both the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and House Foreign Affairs Committees are expected to vote on Thursday to apply tougher sanctions against the Iranian government for its support of terrorism, ballistic missile programs and human rights violations. The votes were delayed until after the Iranian Presidential elections so not to appear as American intruding in Tehran’s domestic affairs.
During the Israel Allies Foundation reception commemorating the 50th anniversary of Jerusalem’s reunification, Representative Doug Lamborn (R-CO) adopted a hawkish line. “His victory is the status quo, and I see no improvement in the conduct of Iran as a nation, and we need to put intense pressure on them, even more than we have until now, frankly. He is really not the moderate that he would like us to believe because of his history,” Lamborn said. The Colorado lawmaker rejected any attempts to legitimize the electoral contest. “They (Iran) kicked out 1,600 candidates who wanted to be on the ballot and said they were not qualified to be on the ballot. We don’t do that in the US.”
On the other hand, Republican Congressman John Faso (R-NY) appeared to see signs of progress in Rouhani’s victory. “It can be interpreted in a variety of ways. It’s hard to discern moderation generally with the leadership there but compared to the other candidate and was probably the one open to the economic expansion and that ultimately can be beneficial to US and Israeli interests,” he noted.