Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) slammed President Obama on Thursday for saying Republicans are in the same camp with Iranian hardliners when they oppose the nuclear deal with Iran.
"[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 Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman said during a hearing Thursday. “And again it is to shut down debate. It is to make this about something other than the merits of the deal."
Obama said Wednesday in a speech in Washington that "It's those hardliners chanting 'death to America' who have been most opposed to the deal. They're making common cause with the Republican caucus.”
“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 bill that will let lawmakers review and vote on the nuclear deal, has become “increasingly skeptical” of the deal since it was announced last month, according to The Hill.
Corker said late Wednesday said that he is still undecided and added that he plans to sit down with Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the committee's ranking member, on Thursday, to discuss the debate and vote on the Iran deal, which will take place in September.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), meanwhile, said during a separate press conference on Thursday that "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."