US Dems Shrugging Off Anti-Deal Ad Campaigns

US Dems Shrugging Off Anti-Deal Ad CampaignsUS Dems Shrugging Off Anti-Deal Ad Campaigns

Opponents of US President Barack Obama's nuclear pact with Iran tried turning up the heat this week on undecided Senate Democrat Jon Tester with a TV ad saying politician like him would be held accountable for Iran's alleged activities against the US if they supported the deal. But he came out in favor, the latest of a string of Democrats to shrug off ad campaigns from opposition groups.

The ad against Tester was pretty tough, but the real money is being spent by an offshoot of the high-powered American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which is running ads on nationwide TV and in the states of more than a dozen undecided Democrats, among them Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Chris Coons of Delaware and Mark Warner of Virginia, according to the AP.  

The accord would temporarily restrict Iran's nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions, and the House and Senate are slated to vote next month on a resolution of disapproval.

So do lawmakers feel like the ads are tightening the screws? It is August, after all, when fewer eyeballs watch TV and many people are on vacation.

"No pressure at all," said Manchin spokesman Jonathan Kott, adding that his boss is leaning toward supporting the agreement. "I know he is aware of the ads and campaigns, but he hasn't heard about them from constituents."

Tester announced on Thursday he was backing the deal. "It's clear this deal is the only option right now to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapon," the senator said in a statement.

Iran denies the charge that it may be seeking to develop nuclear weapons, saying its program is entirely for peaceful purposes such as generating electricity.

"The out-of-state political spending clearly had no impact on my decision," said Tester.

***Heeding Voters

The AIPAC-allied group is also running ads in the Philadelphia media market, aimed at Coons and two other Democratic Senators, namely Bob Casey and Cory Booker.

"Sen. Coons is paying closer attention to the calls, emails and letters the office is receiving from constituents regarding the Iran deal," said his spokesman, Sean Coit.

Another group, United Against Nuclear Iran, is also running ads. It is headed by former senator Joe Lieberman, though he was enlisted after the group's president, Gary Samore, stepped down because he supports the accord. Also in support is liberal advocacy group J Street, which is spending $5 million to back the agreement.

As the campaigns play out, it's appearing increasingly likely that Democrats in the House and Senate will be able to muster the votes to sustain a certain veto by Obama. Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the chamber's powerful Democratic leader-in-waiting, is the only senator of his party to publicly come out against the deal.

Meanwhile, 18 Senate Democrats and two allied Independents have said they will vote to preserve the agreement, more than halfway toward the 34 they would need to sustain a veto. More than 40 House Democrats have come out for it, with 10 against.