National Security

Clinton goes on offense against Sanders on Iran

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Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign is launching an aggressive attack on her top Democratic rival over his perceived inexperience with foreign policy.

On Thursday, a pair of high-ranking Clinton campaign officials accused Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) of being weak on national security, days after he called for normalizing relations with Iran.

{mosads}“This proposal to more aggressively normalize relations and to move to warm relations with Iran not only breaks with President Obama’s policy, it breaks with the sober and responsible diplomatic approach that’s been working for the United States,” Jake Sullivan, Clinton’s senior policy adviser and the State Department’s former director of policy planning, told reporters in a conference call.  

“The proposal would not succeed, but it would cause very real consternation among our allies and partners.”

Brian Fallon, Clinton’s national press secretary, added that Sanders’s position would make him politically vulnerable during the general election, given heightened national fears about terrorism and foreign policy.

“I can safely predict that Republicans would love to have a debate with someone who thinks we should move quickly to warmer relations with a major sponsor of terrorism like Iran,” Fallon said. “Bernie Sanders represents that caricature that Republicans like to put forward.”

During the most recent Democratic presidential debate, on Sunday, Sanders said that the U.S. should “move as aggressively as we can to normalize relations with Iran.”

“Can I tell that we should open an embassy in Tehran tomorrow? No, I don’t think we should,” he added.

“But I think the goal has go to be as we’ve done with Cuba, to move in warm relations with a very powerful and important country in this world.”

Sanders has tended to prioritize domestic policy over foreign policy in his campaign. Clinton, meanwhile, has been eager to trumpet her time as secretary of State to prove her presidential bone fides, taking credit for bringing Iran to the nuclear negotiating table and for helping manage the Obama administration’s “pivot” to Asia, among other issues.

During the debate on Sunday, Clinton said that she was “very proud” of the nuclear accord, but that “we need more good days before we move more rapidly toward any kind of normalization” with Iran.

The Clinton campaign’s decision to lash out at Sanders comes amid a narrowing of the polls in Iowa, the first caucus state.

Clinton is leading Sanders by just 5 percent in Iowa, according to a polling average from RealClearPolitics. In the first primary state of New Hampshire, meanwhile, Sanders is ahead of Clinton by double digits. 

Tags Bernie Sanders Hillary Clinton Jake Sullivan
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