Corker: Obama 'trying to shut down' Iran debate
© Greg Nash

Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerCorker: 'Everything points' to Saudi crown prince ordering Khashoggi's killing CIA concludes Saudi crown prince ordered Khashoggi murder: report  McConnell, Flake clash over protecting Mueller probe MORE (R-Tenn.) slammed President Obama on Thursday, suggesting he was trying to "shut down" congressional debate over the Iran nuclear deal. 

"[The president] is trying to shut down debate by saying that those who have questions — legitimate questions, legitimate questions — are somehow unpatriotic, are somehow compared to hardliners in Iran," the Foreign Relations Committee chairman said during a hearing. “And again it is to shut down debate. It is to make this about something other than the merits of the deal." 
 
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Corker's comments come after Obama made his pitch for the Iran nuclear deal during a speech on Wednesday in Washington. During his address, the president compared the vote on the nuclear deal to the vote to go to war in Iraq. 
 
“Many of same people who argued for the war in Iraq are now making the case against the Iran nuclear deal," the president said. "Let's not mince words. The choice we face is ultimately between diplomacy or some form of war."
 
Corker added that he was "disappointed" in Obama's remarks, saying "we are being compared to the hardliners in Iran because we have concerns — concerns that we are trying to have answered." 
 
Corker, who spearheaded the legislation that will let lawmakers review and vote on the nuclear deal, has become increasingly skeptical of the deal since it was announced last month. Under the agreement, Iran accepts limits on its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief that could help improve its economy.
 
The Tennessee Republican late Wednesday said that he is still undecided. He added that he will sit down with Sen. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinPro-Israel organizations should finally seek payback against Iran deal Dems Cardin wins reelection in Maryland Election Day: An hour-by-hour viewer’s guide MORE (D-Md.), the committee's ranking member, on Thursday to discuss the upcoming debate and vote in September.  
 
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellJim Carrey on potentially losing fans over his anti-Trump Twitter art: 'Lose them' Senate barrels toward showdown over Trump's court picks Graham urges GOP leadership to bring vote on criminal justice reform MORE (R-Ky.), during a separate press conference on Thursday, also took a swipe at Obama, saying "what is not helpful is rhetoric like the president has been using as recently as this morning, comparing Republicans in Congress who have legitimate concerns over the Iran nuclear agreement to those in the streets of Tehran yelling 'death to America.'"
 
The Republican leader suggested the comparison is an example of "crass political rhetoric."
 
McConnell took a first step toward setting up the Senate's vote on Wednesday. Senators will return to Washington on Sept. 8 facing a tight deadline to pass legislation by Sept. 17. 
 
Senators had a final briefing with administration officials on Wednesday evening, as part of Obama's push to shore up support. The president will need at least 34 senators to support the agreement and uphold a potential veto. While Obama got a flurry of support this week as senators headed toward a five-week break, many Democrats still remain undecided. 
 
--This report was updated at 12:59 p.m.