Led by Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), speaker after speaker at a Capitol Hill rally Wednesday demanded that Congress stop the Iran nuclear deal, charging that it will give a murderous regime the money and weapons to unleash terror and destroy Israel.
The rally, held on the west lawn of the Capitol where Congress has begun a debate on an agreement that opponents lack the votes to block, was part protest against President Barack Obama and his accord, part demand that Republican leadership scuttle the deal and part pep rally for Trump and Cruz.
"Never, ever, ever in my life have I seen any deal so incompetently negotiated," said Trump, who drew the attention of the crowd as he arrived,
Trump, the GOP front-runner for the White House, made brief remarks that were short on details about his opposition to the deal and long on his sales pitch for his brand of leadership. He promised he would free the four Americans that Iran has imprisoned before he took office, and will make America a winner again.
"We will have so much winning if I'm elected, that you will get bored with winning," he said.
Cruz, who invited Trump to the rally that he helped the Tea Party Patriots, Zionist Organization of America and others organize, said, "This Iranian nuclear deal is catastrophic."
If the deal goes through, Cruz said, "The Obama administration will become the world's leading funder of Islamic terrorism" and he asserted that the Democratic lawmakers in Congress who support it will have the blood of Americans and other terrorist victims on their hands.
The rally drew a combination of Jewish groups, tea party members, supporters of Trump and Cruz, and some, like Queens Village native Zack Margolies, 65, a retired social worker who now lives in Philadelphia, who are simply worried about the agreement's effect on Israel and the United States.
He said he took a bus to attend the rally "because the [Iranian] people we are dealing with are calling for the destruction of Israel."
The heated rhetoric by speakers at the rally attended by a few hundred demonstrators this afternoon outside the Capitol contrasted sharply with the cool, detailed policy speech backing the accord delivered at a think tank this morning by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
Speaking of the deal, Clinton said "I support it as part of a larger strategy toward Iran."
But she added, "We need to be clear-eyed about what we can expect from Iran . . . And we shouldn't expect that this deal will led to a broader change in their behavior."
She detailed a five-point strategy, which included bolstering Israel's defenses and creating a regional coalition to deal with an Iran regime that she said could not be trusted. That could mean trying to cheat on the deal, trying to outwait the United States to build a bomb or unleashing terror through Hamas and Hezbollah.
In backing the deal, Clinton pointed out that opponents of the agreement in Congress do not have the votes to block it, and said, "We've got to look forward to what comes next."
In her address to the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank, Clinton sought to reach out to opponents of the deal, who include Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Israel, saying, "I would not support this agreement for one second if this deal created danger for Israel."
She dismissed as "unrealistic" opponents" demands to return to the table to negotiate a better deal and most Republican presidential candidates' vows to "tear up" the agreement if they won office.
But those steps are exactly what was demanded by many of the 50 scheduled speakers, who included Sarah Palin, Republican John McCain's running mate in 2008; conservative radio hosts Glenn Beck and Mark Levine; reality show Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson and several Republican lawmakers.
Speaker after speaker quoted Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's statement that "Israel will be gone in 25 years," and many made references to German leader Adolf Hitler and this Holocaust of European Jews.
Trump said that the ayatollah was quoted as saying Iran won't have anything to do with the United States once the deal is done, "They rip us off, they take our money, they try to make us look like fools," Trump said. "We are led by very very stupid people."
Cruz and many other speakers insisted that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) had the power to allow the deal to be blocked by a majority vote in both chambers.
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), who represents Long Island's East End, echoed Cruz' argument that the 60 days that Congress has to review the deal, according to a law passed earlier this year, has not even begun because Obama has not handed over the side deals between Iran and international inspectors."The president says this deal is not built on trust -- it's built on verification. How can anyone support a deal built on verification if you don't know what the verification is?" Zeldin asked about those side deals.
"By law, no verification, no review period," Zeldin said. "No review period, no lifting of sanctions."