GOP senator has one 'regret' over Iran letter
© Greg Nash

Sen. Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonScott Walker considering running for Wisconsin governor or Senate: report GOP moves to rein in president's emergency powers The Hill's 12:30 Report: O'Rourke jumps into 2020 fray MORE (R-Wis.) on Friday said an open letter he signed with 46 other GOP Senators should not have been directed to Iran’s ruling regime.

“I suppose the only regret is who it’s addressed to,” Johnson said during a Friday breakfast with Bloomberg staff. “But the content of the letter, the fact that it was an open letter, none whatsoever.”

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Republicans sent the divisive message on Monday. It informed Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s Supreme Leader, that Congress could ultimately walk away from any deal on Iran’s nuclear weapons programs upon review.

“This is such an important deal — it’s a deal that rises to the level of a treaty that really should be evaluated by the American people through their representatives,” Johnson added. “That treaty should come to Congress for an up-or-down vote.”

The GOP is concerned the Obama administration is pursuing a bad deal with Iran over its nuclear production capabilities. The White House has promised it will ease sanctions on Tehran if it slows or stops its quest for nuclear weapons.

President Obama on Friday called the Senators’ action “close to unprecedented.”

“I’m embarrassed for them,” Obama said in a video posted to YouTube by VICE News Friday. “For them to address a letter to the ayatollah, who they claim is our mortal enemy, and their basic argument to them is, ‘Don’t deal with our president because you can’t trust him to follow through on an agreement,’ that’s close to unprecedented.”

Iran is meeting with Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the U.S. in the talks.

The two sides are working toward a tentative outline by March 24 and a final bargain by June 30. Both of these deadlines are self-imposed.

Johnson is up for reelection this year. He will likely face a tough rematch against former Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), who is strongly insinuating he will run after leaving his current position at the Department of State.

A poll released Wednesday shows voters would heavily favor Feingold if he ran. The automated survey from the Democratic-leaning firm Public Policy Polling found Johnson trails Feingold by 9 percentage points, 41 percent to the Democrat’s 50 percent.  

— This story was updated at 11:54 a.m.