Several Republican presidential candidates criticized the Obama administration’s decision to swap seven Iranian captives for The Washington Post’s reporter Jason Rezaian and three other Americans on Saturday.
Some of them, including Sen. Marco Rubio( R-Fla .), accused the administration of not pushing hard enough for the American prisoners’ release when the United States negotiated a deal with Iran last year. A group of 21 senators, led by Rubio and Sen. Mark Kirk( R-Ill .), sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry last year to demand the prisoners’ unconditional release. Kerry has said that he repeatedly pushed for the men’s release during negotiations.
On Saturday, Republicans said that Obama should not have given up Iranian captives because it attained the United States look weak and that the U.S. captives should have been released without condition.
Shortly after the exchange was announced, Rubio said that while he was happy the Americans were coming home, the release was able to promote U.S. foes to take more hostages abroad.
“They shouldn’t have been in jail. I only find Jason’s brother on Tuesday night at the state of the Union. He’s never been in jail, he did nothing wrong, ” Rubio told The Guardian’s Sabrina Siddiqui. “Governments are taking Americans hostage since they are believe they can gain concessions from this government under Barack Obama. It’s an incentive for more people to do this in the future.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has also spoken critically of the Iran deal, similarly said that the United States should not have had to make any concessions to get the Americans released.
“We shouldn’t have to swap captives, these folks were taken illegally in contravention of international law and they should have been released without condition, ” Christie told WHOTV in Iowa. “But you know, the Iranians have treated this president with disrespect for years and he continues to take it. I would not take it as president.”
Sen. Ted Cruz( R-Texas) celebrated the return of clergyman Saeed Abedini, but still criticized the Iranian nuclear deal.
Praise God! Surely bad parts of Obama’s latest bargain, but prayers of thanksgiving that Pastor Saeed is coming home. https :// t.co/ rad1VcWUml
— Ted Cruz (@ tedcruz) January 16, 2016
Former neurosurgeon Ben Carson also praised the release of four Americans and assaulted the Iran nuclear agreement. He pledged to withdraw from the agreement on his first day as president, if elected.
Such a criticism is somewhat perplexing, given that the nuclear bargain laid the foundation for the diplomacy and negotiations that led to the release of the prisoners.
Donald Trump also questioned the exchange, which went on the same day that sanctions were lifted on Iran, saying that Iran was getting more in the bargain than the United States.
“They’re get seven people, so essentially they get $150 billion plus seven, and we get four, ” Trump said in New Hampshire, according to The Guardian. Trump added that he was happy the Americans were coming home.
Not every Republican presidential candidate was critical of government decisions. Sen. Rand Paul( R-Ky .) told The Guardian that the release was “a sign that we need to continue to try to see if negotiations will work.” Paul also called Iran’s decision to release the prisoners “a sign of hope.”
According to the HuffPost pollster, which averages publicly available polling data, Donald Trump results his fellow contenders in “the member states national” Republican primary, with 37 percent.
Read more on the exchange here 😛 TAGEND
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