President Obama’s Press Secretary Josh Earnest made a cutting remark aimed at Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, following his attendance at a protest of the Iran nuclear deal outside the White House on Thursday.
“I was aware Sen. Cruz was planning to hold a pro-war rally,” Earnest told reporters.
Earnest declined to further comment on the so-called “pro-war rally,” The Hill reports.
The protest was organized by the conservative group Concerned Women for America. Its aim was to show disapproval of the Iran nuclear deal and also called for the return of four American citizens who are currently detained or have gone missing in Iran.
Cruz spoke at the protest and called the Iran nuclear deal “catastrophic." He claimed the money Iran will gain from the deal will fund terrorism.
“If this deal goes through ... over $100 million will flow to Iran,” Cruz said at the rally, according to WJLA. “[The money] will be used to fund jihadists who will murder Americans, murder Israelis, murder Europeans.”
Just over a minute into Cruz’s speech, anti-war protesters who support the Iran nuclear deal began yelling at such a high volume that Cruz was unable to continue.
“We want diplomacy, not war,” a protester yelled.
Cruz then invited the protester up to the podium to debate with him.
“Hold on a second — you want to yell and scream? Come forward, come forward, sir,” Cruz said, inviting the protester to the stage.
The pro-deal protesters decided Medea Benjamin, the leader of the liberal anti-war group Code Pink, should go instead.
“The only way we are going to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, if indeed they are trying to get one, is to have this deal,” Benjamin said in response to Cruz claiming the Iran deal will lead to funding terrorism and the deaths of Americans, Israelis, and Europeans.
“That’s not just what President Obama and [Secretary of State] John Kerry are saying, that’s what the British are saying, the French are saying, the Chinese are saying, the Russians are saying, the Australians are saying, New Zealand is saying, Jordan is saying," Benjamin added. "In fact, it passed unanimously through the security council.
“So the entire world is saying, this is the best deal that we’re going to get to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, to bring about a peaceful settlement of this problem, and what makes you think as Ted Cruz you know better than all of these countries together? You don’t.”
Benjamin went on to say that what Cruz wants will lead America to war.
In May, Cruz said that the Iran nuclear deal would make “war a certainty,” The Huffington Post reported.
Cruz responded to Benjamin by saying he respects her right to speak and then went on to tell her that she was incorrect about her speculation over whether Iran wants a nuclear weapon — he said they are developing one.
Benjamin told him his statement was “absolutely false.”
The debate between Benjamin and Cruz continued on heatedly for several more minutes, with numerous interruptions from the crowd and outbursts as they continued to discuss the deal, the four Americans being held in Iran, and other political talking points.