TIME Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton Criticizes Proposals to Defund Planned Parenthood

Secretary Hillary Clinton tours the DART Central Station, before taking questions from journalists, to highlight her climate change policy announcement, in Des Moines, Iowa on Monday, July 27, 2015.
The Washington Post—The Washington Post/Getty Images Secretary Hillary Clinton tours the DART Central Station, before taking questions from journalists, to highlight her climate change policy announcement, in Des Moines, Iowa on Monday, July 27, 2015.

Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton may agree with Republicans that recent undercover videos taken of Planned Parenthood employees are disturbing, but she disagrees with what they want to do next.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting with AFL-CIO leaders in Silver Spring, Maryland, Clinton said the organization has “provided essential service for women in our country” for more than a century.

“I think it is regrettable that Republicans are once again trying to undermine, even end those services that so many women have needed and taken advantage of,” she said. “I think that it’s another effort by the Republicans to try to limit the health care options of women and we should not let them succeed once again.”

The Center for Medical Progress released several secretly recorded videos this month showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing fetal tissue extraction and the costs involved. Republicans have alleged that the videos show the organization is illegally selling fetal parts and called for publicly defunding the group. Planned Parenthood has defended itself, saying it only receives reimbursements for associated costs, which is allowed.

Eighteen House Republicans have already said they will not support any government funding resolutions this fall that contain any funding for Planned Parenthood. Under the long-standing Hyde Amendment, none of the federal money that goes to Planned Parenthood can be spent on abortions.

On Tuesday, Clinton told the New Hampshire Union Leader that she had seen pictures from the videos and found them “disturbing,” adding that they raise broader questions about the process of fetal tissue donation.

TIME Bernie Sanders

Here’s What the Bernie Sanders Cocktail Tastes Like

Barmini is José Andrés' culinary cocktail lab adjoining minibar at 855 E Street NW in Washington, DC.
The Washington Post—The Washington Post/Getty Images Barmini is José Andrés' culinary cocktail lab adjoining minibar at 855 E Street NW in Washington, DC.

It's got Vermont maple syrup, grapefruit juice and tequila

When Miguel Marcelino Herrera learned that Sen. Bernie Sanders would be coming to a house party he was hosting in his apartment, the Washington bartender wanted to do something special. He decided to create a cocktail in his honor.

After experimenting with a mojito made with maple syrup from Vermont, which Sanders represents, and a Michelada made with a lager from Brooklyn, where Sanders grew up, he settled on something a little stronger: a variation on a tequila-based cocktail called the paloma.

“In my languge paloma means dove, and dove means soul,” explains Herrera, who grew up in Puebla, Mexico. “And Bernie truly has soul. When he speaks it’s almost like he has a truly big holy spirit driving his ideas.”

The Bernie Paloma is made with silver tequila, grapefruit juice, lime juice and Vermont maple syrup.

Be warned: If you’re making one at home, it’ll set you back a bit. For a TIME taste test, the main ingredients cost $59.36, and that wasn’t counting sucrose esters, an emulsifier that can be found online in generic form for another $15. (Brand-name Sucro, as specified by the recipe, costs a whopping $105.)

Herrera, 24, works at the swank, reservations-only Washington cocktail lounge Barmini, which is owned by noted D.C. chef José Andrés. (This isn’t the first time that Andrés has come up in connection to 2016, either. He backed out of a deal to open an upscale restaurant in an D.C. hotel being developed by Donald Trump after the Republican candidate made anti-immigrant comments at his campaign launch.)

The drink was served at a house party held Wednesday as part of a massive national organizing event for Sanders, but it gained attention after the New York Times shared the recipe in a story.

MORE: Sanders Hosts Biggest Organizing Event of 2016

So how does it taste? Here are some remarks from our assortment of taste testers:

“Nope. It tastes like this drink from college called Skittles.”

“The hairs on my arms just stood up from the smell. … (After drinking) Not bad.”

“Refreshing. That is a fine drink.”

Noting the lime and grapefruit juices: “This might be useful if I was at sea.”

All our testers recommended serving the drink chilled or over ice, as otherwise it tended to come off a little too much like something you’d get served in a red Solo cup at a college party. As it’s a tequila drink, the salt-based garnish is also strongly recommended.

For those wanting to try at home, here’s the recipe:

The Bernie Paloma

0.5 oz. Vermont maple syrup

0.5 oz. fresh lime juice

2 oz. fresh grapefruit juice

2 oz. silver tequila

Garnish: “salt air,” which is made by emulsifying sea salt, lime juice, water and Sucro with a hand blender.

TIME 2016 Election

Republicans Debate The Best Way To Debate Donald Trump

Donald Trump
LM Otero—AP Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks to the media during a tour of the the World Trade International Bridge at the U.S. Mexico border in Laredo, Texas, on July 23, 2015.

"You can show that not only the emperor has no clothes—the candidate has no answers."

In windowless conference rooms and in the back seats of SUVs rumbling through Iowa and New Hampshire, Republicans hoping to become President have been memorizing talking points, practicing witty rejoinders and perfecting faux outrage in preparation for next Thursday’s debate in Cleveland.

But these practice sessions have inevitably been getting stuck on the same question: How can anyone debate with Donald Trump, the loud-mouthed billionaire who is atop polls of Republicans? Should he be treated as an inconsistent conservative who once backed abortion rights? Cast as an anti-immigrant firebrand who continues to alienate the fast-growing bloc of Hispanic voters? Or is the proper play to simply get out of the way as he panders to his base of frustrated, middle-class voters and hope one of the eight other people do the dirty work of deflating his sky-high poll numbers?

Interviews with campaign strategists, debate coaches and political consultants reveal that there is no single answer, and several different strategies that depend on whether the candidate is likely to be among Trump’s first targets on that televised stage. Begrudgingly, Trump’s rivals recognize they cannot continue to shrug him off. They’re going to have to treat him like a real candidate in Cleveland.

For some candidates, going after Trump has been seen as good politics. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina have made the most of being anti-Trump, hoping to steal a share of his limelight in order to boost themselves onto the debate stage. (Not even a viral video responding to Trump is likely to lift Graham’s numbers sufficiently to earn him a podium on the main debate stage.)

Still others will be content to sit back and let others hammer their top rival for them. Their primary concern is to avoid Trump’s barbs that might do damage to their own campaigns. After all, taking on Trump seldom is a bloodless affair. “They will avoid getting hit by the shrapnel since nothing good can come of that engagement,” said one former senior adviser to Mitt Romney’s campaign.

For Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, his silence, if not continued generosity towards Trump, will be less a matter of expediency than political necessity. He is betting that when Trump flames out, his supporters—many of them one-time Cruz backers—remember that he was never a vocal critic of their hero.

The unknown here, of course, is which version of Trump shows up that night. Some foresee the worst. “Imagine a NASCAR driver mentally preparing for a race knowing one of the drivers will be drunk,” tweeted John Weaver, Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s strategist. “That’s what prepping for this debate is like.”

Will Trump be on his best behavior, or will he ignore the rules and time limits? Will he come briefed on policy or packing the rhetoric of a reality star that he is? Will any of it matter to voters who have been drawn to his political neophyte status?

“I think he will be more respectful that people expect,” predicts Sen. Rob Portman, the Ohio Republican who has helped presidential candidates prepare for debates since 2000. “He will try to counter the stereotypes. He should appear presidential and talk about policy and be respectful.”

Trump himself has been in preparing for the debate recently with some of his closest advisers before departing for Scotland late Wednesday for the Women’s British Open. An aide said the focus has been on condensing answers for the debate time-limits and reviewing potential attacks on his rivals.

Veteran debate adviser Brett O’Donnell, who is working with Graham, says it is a mistake for candidates to alter their strategy to engage Trump. Instead, the debaters need to have a plan in place and do their best to ignore Trump and his side-show theatrics.

“You don’t want to go in there reacting to what Trump does,” said O’Donnell, who has coached John McCain, Michele Bachmann and Romney for debates. “You have to have a message for the debate and you also have to make sure that you can create moments when you capture attention.”

Even one of the figures tasked with managing the already chaotic, 10-person debate says it could quickly go off the rails with the added phenomenon of Trump. In interviews, Trump often talks over his questioners, interrupts their queries and mocks their approaches. There’s no guarantees Trump will not completely ignore the moderators’ attempts to move on to another candidate. “I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say that I have woken up in cold sweats wondering how I’m going to deal with a Donald Trump who’s not listening,” debate co-moderator Bret Baier told TIME earlier this month.

For some of the lesser-known candidates, the debate will be their first shot at introducing themselves to voters. In that context, the smart candidate will make every chance to speak an opportunity to highlight a signature issue. For instance, Sen. Rand Paul’s campaign is rooted in the promises of liberty. Every answer, thus, should have a theme of liberty — regardless of the question, debate coaches say.

“Whatever it is, bring it back to that,” said Portman, who is not working yet with any candidates and plans to watch the Cleveland debate with supporters three hours south in Columbus. “I don’t have a role to play in this,” he says with more than a measure of relief.

And, if all else fails, a quick joke or quick rejoinder can elevate an also-ran to frequently played soundbite. “With this many people and Donald Trump in the mix, a premium will be placed on one-liners and humor,” Portman said.

If that doesn’t work, there’s always Trump’s record and proposals. The debate will be his first true test if he can master specifics. To this point, he has waved off detailed questions and responded with broad strokes of rhetoric. “We’re going to see what we’re going to see,” Trump told an interviewer last weekend when asked how he would deal with immigrants in the country illegally.

He won’t have the luxury of turning to vagaries at the debate if his rivals press him. “It comes down to specifics,” said Doug Heye, a veteran Republican strategist who has been critical of Trump’s rise. “If you allow him an open-ended question to where he can go back to name-calling and cell-phone talking and insults, then you can’t win. But if you drill down on specifics, you can.”

For instance, if Trump brings up the Veterans Administration, someone should press him, in Heye’s estimation: “Hey, Donald, which committee has jurisdiction over that?”

“It’s drilling down and getting into specifics of policy,” Heye said. “You can show that not only the emperor has no clothes—the candidate has no answers.”

Still, some Republicans grumble, Trump has already taken up so much oxygen in the political space. “The person who is benefiting from all of this Trump business is Hillary Clinton. The person who can refocus the debate on Hillary is the person who wins,” O’Donnell said.

Adds Heye: “Three weeks ago, Marco Rubio gave a really good education speech and no one heard. Rick Perry gave a speech about race and no one heard it.” That, he adds, needs to change if anyone is going to be ready to face Clinton in November 2016.

TIME Donald Trump

Donald Trump Thinks He and Vladimir Putin Would Get Along Just Great

"I think I would get along very well with Vladimir Putin. I just think so."

Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump said he is confident he would “get along very well with Vladimir Putin,” despite the contentious relationship the Russian president has had with the United States in recent years.

“I think I would get along very well with Vladimir Putin. I just think so. People say, ‘What do you mean?’ I think I would get along well with him,” Trump told reporters in Glasgow, Scotland, where he is attending the women’s British Open being played at a golf course he owns.

“He hates Obama, Obama hates him. We have unbelievably bad relationships. Hillary Clinton was…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME elizabeth warren

Elizabeth Warren Wants You to Run For Office

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) attends the Planned Parenthood Generation Conference opening ceremony and welcome reception at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel on July 8, 2015 in Washington, DC.
Jennifer Graylock—Getty Images Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) attends the Planned Parenthood Generation Conference opening ceremony and welcome reception at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel on July 8, 2015 in Washington, DC.

If you're a progressive, that is

Sen. Elizabeth Warren urged down-ballot candidates and grassroots Democrats to run for office at a gathering of liberals in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, saying that local elections won in 2016 will help build a national progressive movement in future races.

The Massachusetts Democrat spoke at the kickoff of an intensive four-day conference designed to train a deep bench of progressive candidates to run for local office and build a movement of liberal candidates.

“This is about building a movement,” said Warren. “We build real change in this country by putting energy on our side by bringing ideas to the front, by showing people there are choices.”

Activists on the left have long lamented the lack of a strong grassroots movement to help reshape the Democratic Party equivalent to the Tea Party, which helped elect prominent Republicans such as Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, leading to a swell of GOP victories in 2010 and 2014.

The conference in Washington, organized by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, is intended to train state legislators, state senators and school board members, building up an infrastructure of candidates to eventually match conservatives’ ascent in Congress.

Warren, a standard-bearer for the progressive left who had never run for office before her 2012 Senate campaign, told attendees from states far-ranging as Rhode Island and Minnesota, that they are a central part of the Democratic movement.

“It is so important that we secure victories at the state and local level,” Warren said. “Washington is dysfunctional. We need you to be out there, town by town, county by county, state by state across this nation.”

Warren set out a progressives’ manifesto that received repeated standing ovations.

She called for raising the minimum wage, protecting workers’ bargaining rights, fighting for debt free college and combating racism. “We believe that no one should work full time and still live in poverty,” Warren said. “We believe that black lives matter.”

Warren is much beloved among liberals, who see her as one of the few prominent voices in Congress for the Democratic left. Progressive groups including Democracy for America and MoveOn.org spent months organizing a campaign to encourage Warren to run for president.

Though Warren has declined to run, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has taken her place as the progressive candidate in the Democratic primary, attracting many of Warren’s grassroots supporters to work for his campaign.

Warren is seen as having a wide-ranging influence on the Democratic primary despite her refusal to run, challenging frontrunner Hillary Clinton to take positions on debt-free college and cabinet appointees.

Some in the audience were running for mayors of a small town, state legislature or considering running for city council. For many, the politics of left and right at the national level have few practical implications for effectively running a small town.

“At this point I’m not espousing far left, progresssive ideas. I just want to get stuff done,” Luke Feeney, who is running for mayor of Chillicothe, a town south of Cleveland, Ohio said before Warren spoke. “If the grass in the park isn’t cut, people won’t get behind the big platform.”

Still, Warren riled up her audience with a long view toward rallying a left movement.

“Victories in 2015 and 2016 are the victores of tomorrow,” she said.

TIME policy

Obama Calls for the U.S. to Make the World’s Fastest Computer

And he wants it done by 2025

President Obama has issued an executive order calling for the United States to build the world’s fastest computer.

The order, announced on Wednesday, establishes the National Strategic Computing Initiative, which is “designed to advance core technologies to solve difficult computational problems and foster increased use of the new capabilities in the public and private sectors,” according to the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

One of the goals of the NSCI will be to build the world’s fastest supercomputer over the next ten years. The computer is planned to be capable of working at one exaflop, or one billion billion calculations per second. The office says a supercomputer able to work at this speed could more accurately measure galaxies, weather, molecular interactions or aircraft in flight, as well as help detect cancer from x-ray images.

“Over the past 60 years, the United States has been a leader in the development and deployment of cutting-edge computing systems,” the office notes. The purpose of the NSCI is “to ensure the United States continues leading in this field over the coming decades.”

 

TIME

Morning Must Reads: July 30

Capitol
Mark Wilson—Getty Images The early morning sun rises behind the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC.

The GOP top-tier is not firmly established going into the first debate. At the top is Donald Trump, Scott Walker, and Jeb Bush. Then things get complicated — real complicated. Nine candidates are in a statistical tie in the latest Quinnipiac University Poll for 4th-12th place, making next week’s winnowing of the field to 10 candidates on the first debate state essentially arbitrary if coming polls produce similar results. With 17 GOP candidates declared—former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore entered the race Wednesday—there is unlikely to be a statistically significant polling difference between the person occupying the 10th spot on stage and the 11th person left off it.

Hillary Clinton‘s use of a private email server that allegedly contained classified information opens up a legal can of worms for the former Secretary of State if investigators determine that she knew the information was classified. The controversy is already leading to a major hit to her national poll numbers, as Bush and Walker now poll even with Clinton in hypothetical general election match-ups. Clinton’s favorability and trustworthiness ratings are also at new lows.

Elsewhere in politics, Rick Perry has an unusual challenge for Donald Trump, and Ben Carson‘s surgeon’s hands breeze through a game of “Operation.”

Here are your must-reads:

Must Reads

Donald Trump Dominates in New National Republican Poll
Nine candidates in a statistical tie for 4th place [TIME]

Facebook Expands in Politics, and Campaigns Find Much to Like
The new advertising “monster” [New York Times]

Clinton’s Planned Parenthood ties run deep
Videos are “disturbing,” she says, but Clinton has long been a supporter [Politico]

The Legal Question Over Hillary Clinton’s Secret Emails
Her exposure depends on what she knew, TIME’s Massimo Calabresi writes

Koch Network Takes Cue from Obama Playbook
A 1,000-strong ground game more than a year from Election Day [Washington Post]

UBS Deal Shows Clinton’s Complicated Ties [Wall Street Journal]
Donations to family foundation increased after secretary of state’s involvement in tax case

Sound Off

“Let’s get a pull-up bar out there and see who can do more pull-ups.” — Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry challenges Donald Trump

“She wanted to breast pump in front of me and I may have said that’s disgusting, I may have said something else. I thought it was terrible. She’s a vicious, horrible person.” — Donald Trump on lawyer Elizabeth Beck, with whom he allegedly clashed with over breastfeeding

Bits and Bites

Hillary Clinton Losing Strength in New National Polling [TIME]

Facts in Clinton’s ‘Secret’ Emails Came From Five Intelligence Agencies [McClatchy]

The Trumpification of Congress [TIME]

How to Beat ‘Operation’ With Ben Carson [IJ Review]

Bernie Sanders Hosts Biggest Organizing Event of 2016 So Far [TIME]

Hillary Clinton to Call for Lifting Cuba Embargo [TIME]

James Gilmore, Ex-Virginia Governor, Files Papers to Run for President [New York Times]

Donald Trump Says His Past Politics Were Transactional [Wall Street Journal]

Judge Explodes Over Hillary Email Delays [Politico]

Planned Parenthood Website Hacked [CNN]

TIME Donald Trump

Donald Trump Dominates in New National Republican Poll

The results are huge one week before first Republican debate

Donald Trump sits firmly atop the Republican primary field one week before the inaugural GOP debate, according to the Quinnipiac Poll released Thursday.

The bombastic reality television star and real estate magnate has the support of 20% of Republicans, according to the poll, with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker following at 13% and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush rounding out the top-3 at 10%. No other Republican candidate polls higher than 6%, with nine of the 12 remaining candidates polling within a statistical tie according to the survey.

The poll is likely to be one of the five surveys that will factor in determining eligibility for the GOP debate, with the Fox News using an as-yet-unknown method for averaging the results. The network has said it may allow more than 10 candidates on stage in the event of a tie.

The close results highlight the challenges inherent to using polling to attempt to winnow the massive Republican primary field.

Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sen. Rand Paul, and Sen. Marco Rubio each polled at 6%, followed by Sen. Ted Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich at 5%. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie polled at 3%, rounding out the top 10, with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry earning 2% each. Former Sen. Rick Santorum, former HP CEO Carly Fiorina, and former New York Gov. George Pataki each pulled in 1%.

Among Republicans, 30% said they would under no circumstances vote for Trump—the highest of any candidate—with 15% saying they would never back Christie and 14% saying the same of Bush. Trump is viewed favorably by 50% of GOPers, with 33% viewing him unfavorably—among the lower net figures in the GOP field. Christie, though, is even worse, with 40% holding positive views and 37% negative.

Rubio and Walker remain the most beloved in the GOP, with more than three-fifths holding favorable opinions of the candidates and just single digits viewing them unfavorably. Bush saw a significant jump to his approval ratings, from the last Quinnipiac survey in May, rising from just 28% viewing him favorably to 43%, with the percentage viewing him unfavorably declining from 44% to 41% over the same period.

Americans of all stripes believe Trump possesses strong leadership qualities, with 58% of Americans and 61% of independent voters agreeing with that statement. Yet on two other key metrics of candidate performance, trust and caring about voters, Trump is underwater by roughly 2-1 margins.

The poll of 710 Republicans was conducted from July 23-28 and has a margin of error of ± 3.7 percentage points. The broader sample of 1,644 registered voters has a margin of error of ± 2.4 percentage points.

TIME 2016 Election

Hillary Clinton Losing Strength in New National Polling

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Jim Cole—AP Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton listens to questions during a campaign stop on July 28, 2015, in Nashua, N.H.

She is strong against Democratic challengers, but weaker against Republicans

Six weeks after setting her candidacy into high gear, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers are continuing to fall, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday.

Across nearly every key metric, from trustworthiness to caring about voters to leadership, Clinton has seen an erosion in public approval, as likely Republican rivals have erased her leads in the poll. Clinton has a net -11 favorability rating in the poll, with 40% of the American public viewing her positively and 51% negatively, with more than 50% of independents on the negative side.

If the election were held today, Clinton would be tied with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in the poll—down from significant leads in a May 28 survey—but would top the current GOP frontrunner Donald Trump.

The poll, which was conducted amid new reporting on the existence of classified information on Clinton’s private email server, found further declines in Clinton’s perceived trustworthiness, with 57% of Americans now viewing her as neither honest nor trustworthy. And as Clinton has invested heavily in a campaign designed to appeal to Americans who feel left behind in the economic recovery, a majority of Americans now believe Clinton does not care about the needs or problems of people like them. But while the numbers have softened in recent months, Clinton is continued to be viewed as a strong leader by 58% of Americans.

Despite her struggles in general election match-ups, Clinton’s position as a front-runner for the Democratic nomination remains solid with 55 percent of Democrats supporting her—roughly unchanged from a year ago. Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ gains, meanwhile, have slowed. The May poll found the avowed socialist’s support spiking from 8% to 15% from a month before; this month he has the backing of 17% of Democrats.

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, meanwhile, has struggled for recognition, with 76% of Americans and 78% of Democrats saying they don’t know enough about him to form an opinion of him. Despite intense campaigning and jabs at Clinton and Sanders, O’Malley only garners the support of 1% of Democrats, unchanged from two months ago.

The poll of 1,644 registered voters has a margin of error of ± 2.4 percentage points and was conducted from July 23-28. The smaller sample of 681 Democrats has a margin of error of ±3.8 percentage points.

TIME Military

Drumbeats of Possible War With Iran Grow Louder

Senate Armed Services Hearing on Iran/JCPOA
Samuel Corum—Anadolu Agency / Getty Images Secretary of State John Kerry, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and General Martin Dempsey defend the Iran deal at Wednesday’s Senate hearing.

Senate hearing highlights growing skepticism over wisdom of nuclear deal

You could almost see the U.S. and Iran drawing slowly closer to war Wednesday, as dubious lawmakers, including a pair of Republican senators seeking their party’s presidential nomination, grilled top Obama Administration officials over the pending nuclear deal with Tehran.

The reason is pretty simple: there appears to be a growing push among lawmakers, and their constituents, against the recent agreement hammered out by the U.S. and four other nations to restrain Iran’s push toward nuclear weapons (a CNN poll out Tuesday says 52% of Americans oppose the pact).

If the deal falls apart, Administration witnesses warned the Senate Armed Services Committee that Iran would have a fast track toward a nuclear arsenal. If the mullahs try to take advantage of that opening—something expected by U.S. intelligence—all signs suggest the U.S. will go to war to thwart their atomic ambitions.

Language from both the Administration and senators made clear there’s a hair-trigger mentality when it comes to Iran. But how much of that was bluster, designed to win over the other side regarding the deal’s merit, was difficult to plumb. What was clear is how complicated the polarized U.S. debate over the deal has made winning Washington’s approval.

Testifying for the Administration were Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Secretary of State John Kerry, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

Carter said the Pentagon is “continuing to advance our military capabilities that provide all options…should Iran walk away from its commitments under this deal.” He added, with a bit of martial swagger, that any Iranian aggression would trigger “an overwhelming array of forces into the region, leveraging our most advanced capabilities, married with sophisticated munitions that put no target out of reach.”

Translation: “advance capabilities” means the U.S. Air Force’s B-2 bomber, the only airplane that can carry “sophisticated munitions that put no target out of reach”—the 15-ton Massive Ordnance Penetrator, specifically designed to burrow into Iranian mountains and destroy nuclear-production facilities.

Two of the most startling questions put to the witnesses by deal doubters came from senators seeking the GOP presidential nomination. Opposition to the deal makes them look pro-military and pro-Israel (which opposes the deal), as well as anti-Obama—a political hat trick for those seeking to appeal to Republican primary voters.

Lindsey Graham’s question came like a bolt out of the blue. “Could we win a war with Iran?” the South Carolinian asked Carter. “Who wins the war between us and Iran? Who wins? Do you have any doubt who wins?”

“No,” Carter responded. “The United States wins the war.” Neither he nor Graham explained how the U.S. might win in Iran, after it has failed to win in Afghanistan and Iraq since invading those two nations more than a decade ago.

Top Administration Officials Testify To Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing On Military Balance In Mid East
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images“Could we win a war with Iran?” asks Senator Lindsey Graham, alongside Senator Ted Cruz.

Ted Cruz of Texas lobbed an electromagnetic-pulse weapon into the middle of the three-hour hearing. “Do you agree that an EMP detonated by Iran in the atmosphere could kill tens of millions of Americans?” he asked Moniz. EMP weapons have become a bugaboo in certain conservative circles over concern that a high-altitude nuclear explosion over the U.S. could fry much of the nation’s electronics. Moniz conceded an EMP could be “a very potent weapon.”

Much of the session was less about nuclear physics than political theater. Republicans spent much of the session detailing Tehran’s “malign” activities, ranging from sponsoring terrorism to threatening to destroy Israel. The Administration’s witnesses acknowledged Iran’s perfidy. But they argued that the deal, which the U.S., Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia struck with Iran after years of negotiations, is the surest way to delay, if not derail, Iran’s nuclear quest.

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