Everyone involved seems to be trying to put the best face on it, but Barack Obama went so far as to suggest senior Democrats like Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), who take a hard line on Iran, are doing so purely to appease their donors.
Obama said that as a former senator himself, he understood how outside forces — like special interests and donors — can influence senators to act, one of the senators recounted.
Menendez scoffed at the notion in what’s being reported as a “heated exchange” with Obama according to other senators in the room. His contention being, it’s better to negotiate from a position of strength, as opposed to the weakness Obama seems to like to show America’s enemies.
Menendez, the leading Democrat pushing for additional sanctions against Iran, forcefully pressed Obama on the need for additional sanctions during a meeting in which Obama urged Menendez and other senators to drop their efforts to pass sanctions legislation. Additional sanctions, Obama argued, could torpedo ongoing negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program…
Menendez stood up to challenge the President, telling Obama he took “personal offense” to his assertions, the New York Times reported, arguing that he has worked to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions for many years and was not motivated by political considerations.
“It was not confrontational. It was just a good lively exchange,” Sen. Tom Udall, D-New Mexico said. “We know there are some differences there. But they showed tremendous respect for each other.”