South Dakota Senator John Thune joined me today to discuss Iran “deal”:
HH: Joined now by United States Senator John Thune from South Dakota. You can follow him on Twitter, @SenJohnThune. Senator, welcome, good to talk to you.
JT: Always good to be with you, Hugh, thanks.
HH: Big day. The Iran deal is enormously bad, and many people have bene on before you, including your colleagues Dan Sullivan, Cory Gardner, Tom Cotton, say so, Lindsey Graham. What I want to know is how do we stop it?
JT: Yeah, well, that’s going to be the challenge, but I think what we have to do is we’ve got to win the argument with the American people. And the American people are going to have to get to enough Democrats, hopefully clear-eyed Democrats that see this for what it is, and are going to be willing to cross their president, which isn’t going to be easy for them. But if the stakes are so high, Hugh, I just think, I’m hopeful at least that there are going to be some right-thinking Democrats on this that will work with us. And that’s going to take, though, a lot of work over the next few weeks to educate the American people about what’s at stake here.
HH: Senator Thune, the Senate is scheduled to be gone from August 10th-September 7th. If it is that high stakes, it is that critical to win the argument, shouldn’t that recess be cancelled and you guys stay there and argue from the Senate floor every day why this is a historically dangerous moment?
JT: Well, I think one of the keys over, and you know, and that’s, who knows? I mean, that may end up being an option. But I think over the next three to four weeks, you can expect multiple hearings. You’re going to see some very rigorous oversight. And that doesn’t end with the August recess. We’re going to continue to demand answers, information from the administration, and I do think that part of August is being out there and not only hearing from constituents about this, but making the argument. I mean, again, what ultimately is going to make Democrats here in the United State Senate and House see the light is they’ve got to feel the heat. And we’ve got to turn it up. I think that’ll give us an opportunity if we get out there and make those arguments, and hopefully our presidential candidates will be out there doing the same thing.
HH: Well, I agree that going back and forth to D.C. makes a lot of sense, but it seems hard for me to argue to my audience that the Senate is on vacation right now, this really matters, even though I know you guys always say we’re not on vacation, and I understand you do meet with your constituents. But if you’re recessing from August 10th to September 7th, it’s very hard for me to make the argument that there’s, in fact, Washington, D.C. empties out. There’s like one staffer left to answer the phones, the interns are around. If it’s Munich, let’s treat it like Munich.
JT: Well, and I’m not suggesting for a moment that it doesn’t have, I think it has that kind of impact and that kind of consequence, and we need to treat it in that kind of historic context. But I do think we, one, we will have time, obviously, to debate this not only before, but in September as well. And then again, I’ll just say it, I mean, when I, my month in August is going to be the South Dakota State Fair, the Brown County Fair, the Sioux Empire Fair, Dakotafest, I mean, the Turner County Fair. I will be out meeting with people all the time. And this is going to be one of the main issues. And I think this is going to be a way in which not only to the people across this country weigh on, hopefully other members of Congress are doing the same thing, but also an opportunity for us to convey to them what’s at stake, and to really win this argument, because my view, that’s the only chance we have. And it’s going to take, all the President needs is 34 votes. That means we’ve got to have 12-15 Democrats to come across. And the only way we’re going to get that is if they’re hearing it from their constituents. So I think all this process, this is all part of the process of us winning the argument.
HH: I agree, but do you have every Republican vote to vote no on this, do you believe?
JT: I can’t imagine that we would lose any Republicans. And you know, that isn’t to say I could be wrong, but just based on what we know so far, and kind of knowing where people are and have been on this, I just can’t see any Republicans who are going to find this to be a good deal. I mean, if a good deal is one that prevents Iran from getting nuclear weapons, it’ll fail that test. If it’s a good deal in making sure that Iran doesn’t have billions of dollars to fund their terrorist activities, it’ll fail that test.
HH: So you need six to get it to the President’s desk. Do you think you get at least six to get it to the President’s desk with a no?
JT: Boy, I can’t imagine we wouldn’t. I just, if you know, these guys would have to just completely, you know, check their basic discernment at the door to vote for this thing. So I think we get it there, and then the question is can we rally and find the extra seven or eight votes that we’re going to need to get it to override the veto.
HH: Well, we’ll be there helping you, but my last word to you, Senator, the optics of a four week recess are horrible. I don’t know if it’s a one week recess, or some of you guys stay there and you keep it…you can go to the fairs and leave people behind and make the arguments. It’s not that hard. But if you go on vacation, America’s not going to believe it’s that big of a deal. That’s my plea to you.
JT: Yeah, I hear you, man. I know. Duly noted.
HH: Duly noted. Okay, Senator John Thune, come back early and often through the next 60 days. I think we’re at a critical moment. I appreciate you making time today.
JT: Well, thanks for what you’re doing to help educate people, and just raise the stakes on this. So all right, thanks, Hugh.
HH: We’ll continue to do that. And I will continue to, you know, I’ve been asking every single Senator out there the same thing, and I will continue to ask every single Senator out there to cancel their vacation August 10th through September 7th. and John Thune’s number three in the leadership, and he didn’t say no, and he didn’t say yes. They like to go home. I understand that. But if it is that big of a deal, you don’t go into recess. You leave behind your starting team.
End of interview.