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Politics In The News: Iran Nuclear Talks


To discuss the political impact of those Iranian talks plus the rest of the week in politics, we're joined now, as we are most Mondays, by Cokie Roberts. Good morning.

COKIE ROBERTS, BYLINE: Morning, Renee. Go, Team USA.

MONTAGNE: (Laughter) Yes, wasn't that exciting?

ROBERTS: It was.

MONTAGNE: So something that may or may not be exciting on the campaign trail, Iran; obviously a matter of huge concern to the Obama administration. But what about out there, politically, and actually, Cokie, for that matter, foreign affairs in general?

ROBERTS: Well, to the extent, Renee, that Republicans are trying to characterize President Obama as weak on foreign policy, it's out there. And the Iran deal is really the centerpiece of that, and Congress will review it. So you can be sure that presidential candidates, of whom there are many in the Senate, will all weigh in on it, and that will be a big issue for them when it comes to Congress. But it comes at a time when the administration is having other issues to deal with. Law enforcement says it's the greatest potential terrorist threat since September 11, with particular concern about ISIS issues of social media to recruit new members. And last week, the Senate Intelligence Committee passed a bill that's moving to the full Senate that will require companies like YouTube and Twitter to tell the government about postings by suspected terrorists. And that's likely to cause a huge civil liberties fight. And also, the Congress needs to deal with the Export-Import Bank because the authority for the bank ran out last week. And that's become a big political rallying cry for conservatives who oppose it, along with Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders who's attacking it from the left.

MONTAGNE: And speaking of Bernie Sanders, he's attracting big crowds...


MONTAGNE: ...And seems to be moving up in the polls against Hillary Clinton. Plus, she caught some heat this weekend for how she treated the press. Talk to us about that.

ROBERTS: Well, she put the cameras behind a rope line in a Fourth of July parade in New Hampshire. And of course, with social media, it lit up the Twitter universe immediately. Their campaign says, look, they're allowing the press to walk the parade, not be penned in to press areas while still allowing the candidate to interact with the voters. But the pictures certainly did play into the image as Hillary Clinton is closed off from questioning. And Sanders is revving up the base. There are lots of people receptive to his message. He's clearly upsetting some Clinton surrogates. And he's getting great big crowds and moving up in the polls. But you know, crowds are not necessarily meaningful. I remember in 1972 George McGovern saying he was bound to win because the crowds were so big and enthusiastic, particularly compared to Richard Nixon's. And of course, we all know what happened there.

MONTAGNE: Let's - yes, we do. And let's check it on the Donald Trump saga. Corporations are distancing themselves from him because of his harsh comments about Mexican immigrants, referring to them as rapists and drug dealers. What about his rivals in the Republican Party?

ROBERTS: Well, it took a while, but they have now - many of them said that what he said is offensive. Jeb Bush said he was personally offended as the father of Mexican-American children. And others like Rick Perry eventually followed. But some of the candidates are being very careful. Rick Santorum saying he might not have said what Trump said, but he's pointing out an important issue; Ted Cruz saying, quote, "I salute Donald Trump for focusing on the need to deal with illegal immigrants." Look, the Democrats are loving this, Renee. The Republicans are digging in deeper and alienating Hispanic voters, a key group for the next election, and Donald Trump is not backing off at all...


ROBERTS: ...Has all the money in the world to get his message forward.

MONTAGNE: Thanks, Cokie Roberts. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Cokie Roberts died September 17, 2019, at age 75.
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