By Reginald Johnson
HARTFORD ---- Grassroots activists around the country are working feverishly to line up as many Democrats as possible to support President Obama’s proposed nuclear weapons agreement with Iran, and say no to Republican efforts to scuttle the deal.
People from groups like Moveon.org, Democracy for America and others rallied on Wednesday outside congressional offices in 250 cities, hoping to put pressure on Democrats still undecided on the agreement.
One of the undecided is U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and more than 80 activists showed up at his office near the old State House to demand that the first-term senator get off the fence and back the deal. Blumenthal is the only member of the seven-member congressional delegation in Connecticut (all Democrats) who’s still holding out.
Chanting slogans like “Give Peace a Chance” and “Peace Yes and War No!” the ralliers formed a circle at the entrance to the building where the senator’s office is located, holding petitions with the names of some 10.000 people in Connecticut who want Blumenthal to back the deal.
Speakers blasted Republicans and others, such as former Senator Joseph Lieberman, who claim the agreement isn’t tough enough on Iran, and are lobbying Congress to reject it.
“I’m confident Senator Blumenthal will do the right thing and join with us and five other countries and President Obama and say no to Dick Cheney and Joe Lieberman and more war. They were wrong on Iraq, they are wrong on Iran. Peace now!” shouted Tom Swan, of the Connecticut Citizens Action Group.
Henry Lowendorf, of the Greater New Haven Peace Council, said the agreement is a “good agreement, a peace agreement.”
He said the deal calls for Iran to “continue to not build nuclear weapons, in return for an end to sanctions.”
“People who want the United States Congress to reject this agreement have been calling for war with Iran for decades. That is their solution, their alternative,” he said.
One of those who stood in the circle with a petition was Bruce Corbett of Avon, who came to the demonstration with his wife, Ruth Ellen. Corbett, a retired history teacher, said the events surrounding the Iran deal reminded him of when former President Woodrow Wilson following World War I was trying to get the country to support the Treaty of Versailles and formation of a League of Nations, to help prevent future war. That effort failed amid Republican opposition.
A League of Nations was formed, but was ineffectual without the United States. Partly as a result of that “we had the rise of Hitler and World War II,” said Corbett.
To the surprise of some, towards the end of the rally, Senator Blumenthal showed up on the way to his office. He went up and down the line shaking hands and smiling. As he headed towards his office, the group gathered around him, and Lowendorf handed over the petitions. In brief remarks, the senator said he was still weighing his decision, getting input from both sides, listening to constituents and hearing from experts.
He called the issue “immensely complicated.”
“I’m going to be listening to the people of Connecticut as I make my decision,” said Blumenthal. “But for me, more importantly, I’m going to decide what is the right thing to do for the United States of America. That’s my job,” he said.
“What about what’s right for the world?” one person shouted.
As Blumenthal headed for the door, the crowd chanted “Just Say Yes!” “Just Say Yes!”
Blumenthal is expected to make his decision sometime in the next ten days, his office said.
A congressional vote on the Iran agreement is expected sometime in September.