The effort was one of the most aggressive lobbying drives ever to take shape between Congressional Democratic leaders and the Obama White House.
Democrats succeeded largely because the lobbying effort to back the deal was far more targeted and relentless than the campaigns aimed at scuttling it.
But weeks before it would become public, the White House won a critical assurance that would dramatically change the outlook in Congress: Sen. Harry Reid would support it.
In a private call, the Senate Democratic leader secretly assured Secretary of State John Kerry that he would back the deal, though he would keep quiet about it publicly, Democratic sources said. He promised to help deliver critical information about which Democrats to target — but Reid himself needed to let about a dozen friends, supporters and donors who were sharply critical of the deal know why he was backing it before his position became public.
What ensued was perhaps the most aggressive and coordinated lobbying drive ever to take shape between congressional Democratic leaders and the Obama White House — which have frequently been at odds over strategy and tactics. It was a strategy that focused exclusively on House and Senate Democrats, ignoring Republicans altogether. And it underscored how sensitive the deal was to a number of Democrats, who feared a sharp backlash from pro-Israel voters and their Republican foes.
The Democrats succeeded largely because the lobbying effort to back the deal was far more targeted and relentless than the public push and advertising campaigns aimed at scuttling it, according to lawmakers in both parties. For a president often criticized for being detached from Congress, Obama aggressively used his bully pulpit to win over his party, contacting 125 Democratic House members and senators since July, many of them repeatedly, according to Democratic sources.
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Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, the GOP chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and an opponent of the deal, said his Democratic friends reported to him that the White House was “breaking arms and legs” to prevent Congress from voting down the deal. And it worked, culminating in a Thursday victory where Senate Democrats filibustered a resolution to reject the deal and House Democrats secured enough support to sustain a veto, handing Obama the most far-reaching international achievement of his presidency.
To quell a Democratic uprising, the White House, Reid and House …Read More