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Dem ex-lawmakers defend Schumer on Iran

A group of Democratic former lawmakers is rallying around Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), after his decision to oppose the Iran nuclear deal brought swift blowback from liberals.

"As friends and former colleagues of Chuck's, we are certain he reached this difficult decision as he always does - by applying his considerable intellect to a complete and careful interrogation of the facts. Any insinuation that his decision was somehow other than thoughtful and heartfelt is baseless - and tasteless," Democratic former Sens. Evan Bayh (Ind.), Mark Begich (Alaska), Mary Landrieu (La.) and Joe Lieberman (Conn.), as well as former Reps. Gary Ackerman (N.Y.), Shelley Berkley (Nev.), Dennis Cardoza (Calif.) and Peter Deutsch (Fla.), said in a statement.

The lawmakers represent the advisory board of the Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran, which opposes the deal and is tied to the The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

The former lawmakers added that "reasonable people can - and do - differ on the merits of this agreement. Any suggestion to the contrary is indefensible."

The New York Democrat has been in liberals' crosshairs since he announced earlier this month that he would vote against the Iran nuclear deal. He's pressing the administration to go back to the negotiating table and get a better one.

Progressive outside groups including CREDO, MoveOn.org and Democracy for America are rallying their supporters to buck Schumer and demand lawmakers support the agreement.

Becky Bond, the political director of CREDO Action, said the decision "shows that he is unfit to lead Senate Democrats."

MoveOn.org said earlier this week that its supporters had pledged to withhold a total of $11 million from Democratic candidates and campaign groups in response.

Schumer's also drawn direct and veiled criticisms from current and former administration officials. David Plouffe, a former top Obama adviser, called Schumer's belief that the administration could go back and get a better deal naive.

The New York lawmaker is the only Democratic senator, so far, to buck President Obama on the Iran nuclear deal, despite an intense lobbying effort by the administration. The president will need 34 senators to back the agreement if he wants to block a potential veto override in the Senate.

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