Senate races

Outside group ties GOP senators opposing Iran deal to Trump

A liberal group is firing back at Republicans after months of criticism over the Iran nuclear deal, linking a pair of vulnerable GOP senators to Donald Trump’s stance on the agreement.

J Street, a pro-Israel advocacy group that supported last year’s deal, is going up with TV ads Wednesday arguing that GOP Sens. Pat Toomey (Pa.) and Ron Johnson (Wis.) are “wrong” about the pact, just like the GOP presidential nominee.

{mosads}”Ron Johnson and Donald Trump oppose the Iran nuclear deal,” the Wisconsin ad’s narrator says. “Ron Johnson thinks he knows better. Like Donald Trump, he’s wrong.” 

Trump has been a vocal opponent of the agreement, calling it “one of the worst deals ever made by any country in history.” Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican Mike Pence also traded shots over the deal during Tuesday’s night vice presidential debate. 

The ads also highlight details of the agreement — including a tougher inspection regime, new constraints on Iran’s program and the requirement that Tehran turn over its uranium — and support for the deal from Democratic Senate candidates Katie McGinty, in Pennsylvania, and former Sen. Russ Feingold, in Wisconsin.

The group is spending an initial $250,000 in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, where the TV ads will run for roughly a week. They’ve also launched similar ads — which are digital for now — targeting GOP Sens. Mark Kirk (Ill.) and Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), who also opposed the agreement.

The move comes as GOP lawmakers and outside groups have spent months knocking Democrats amid lingering fallout over the Iran deal. Republicans believe focusing on national security could help give them an edge in the November election. 

Ayotte targeted Gov. Maggie Hassan, her Democratic opponent, with a TV ad this week on her national security positions, including the Iran deal. America Unity PAC also released an ad late last month knocking Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D), Kirk’s opponent in Illinois, over the deal. 

Jeremy Ben-Ami, the president of J Street, said the group is “not afraid” of being outspent. 

“That’s because the facts are on our side–the deal is being successfully implemented and has effectively defanged Iran’s nuclear weapons program,” he added in a statement. “Our opponents have the much steeper hill to climb in needing to convince people that the world is flat, all evidence to the contrary.” 

Only 30 percent of Americans back the agreement, according to a Gallup poll from February. A separate poll from August found that 48 percent of Americans approve of President Obama’s broader foreign policy, an uptick from 39 percent in February. 

The group has raised $750,000 so far as part of an ongoing effort to fund TV and digital ads, as well as direct mail to voters in key Senate battles. They previously ran a $5.5 million campaign last year to build support for the agreement in Congress. 

Tags Donald Trump Kelly Ayotte Mark Kirk Mike Pence Ron Johnson Tim Kaine

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