Today I attended the much-anticipated Cruz-Trump Iran deal protest on Capitol Hill. It was a scorcher—97 degrees when I finally surrendered to an air conditioned cab—but the rally boasted an impressive turnout.
The crowd, for the most part, was focused on protesting not only the specific Iranian nuclear deal, but the path down which Obama’s foreign policy has taken us. 100% of the attendees I talked to see the deal as one more foolish, stupid, naive move by the Obama Administration. For most, opposition was apolitical; I spoke to many people who were grateful for the protest votes of Chuck Schumer and other Democrats, even if those announcements came too little and too late to give the White House pause.
These signs were floating around everywhere, and for the most part sum up the mood in the crowd:
JoAnn Abbott, an organizer of the 2009 tax day tea party rally in Washington, DC, came to today’s rally because, as she put it, “I have grandchildren I want to see grow up.”
She carried my favorite sign of the day:
Ann McLaughlin, a native Washingtonian, told me that she came because she is “horrified at the direction” that President Obama is taking this country. She said she believes that the nuke deal abets and empowers our enemies, and that Obama is “walking away from our allies” (namely, Israel.)
For many attendees, their frustration lay not only with Democrats vocally supporting the deal, but with Republicans they believe aren’t fighting back hard enough. Tom Zawistowski, a tea party leader from Ohio, came to Capitol Hill because he’s angry at how both Republicans and Democrats have handled opposition to the Iran nuclear deal. “We came to the rally because we think this is a bad deal,” said Zawistowski. “The common people of Ohio see through this. This is not a deal that’s to our benefit, we don’t understand why we’re making it.” He went on to explain how he believes the tea party movement has changed since its first major rally in DC back in 2009, and served up a warning to complacent Republicans, saying that conservative activists aren’t afraid to hold their representatives accountable.
As I walked through the crowd, I saw enormous support not just for our own congress critters voicing opposition to the deal, but for our allies in Israel who have spoken out against doing business with Iran. I talked to several activists who were concerned about the growing divide between the United States and Israel; some expressed doubt as to whether or not the alliance could ever repair itself if Obama and the Democrats manage to get this deal shoved through Congress.
One attendee, Gary Jaffae, came to support Israel, and to support members of Congress who are voicing their opposition to the deal. He was vocal about his concerns that Iran will use this as an opportunity to start an arms race in the Middle East.
“This is the first time America has made a deal with the enemy,” Gary told me. “Iran proves that they’re going to use these weapons, because they announce it every day that they want to annihilate Israel. They chant ‘death to America’ 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and we ought to take them at their word.”
I think we should, too.
I wanted to include a few crowd shots, lest the Democrats claim that the anti-deal crowd held a protest and no one showed up. Like I said above, it was hot in DC today. The crowd hung on to hear Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, but started to clear out mid-Sarah Palin. They made their point, though.
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