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Secure in Iran deal victory, White House is gently mocking its opponents

Secure in Iran deal victory, White House is gently mocking its opponents
President Obama speaks in Warren, Mich., about community college affordability on Wednesday. (Andrew Harnik / AP)

From the moment negotiators signed off on a sweeping accord designed to limit Iran’s nuclear program, the White House went to work to ensure that Congress could not derail it.

Now with victory all but certain, and Republicans facing a surprise internal rebellion over tactics, President Obama’s team moved Wednesday from a serious campaign to sell the deal to either ignoring or lightly mocking the opposition to it.

While a major anti-deal rally featuring Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump rally was unfolding Wednesday outside the Capitol, Obama didn’t even think the event deserved mention.

The president stuck to an entirely different subject, community college affordability, during a speech and tour of a vocational training program here. That plan probably won't win support in Congress, but the Iran deal has already picked up enough support among Senate Democrats to keep Republicans from derailing it.

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The White House has called the Cruz-Trump event a "pro-war rally," but talking to reporters on the Air Force One flight to Michigan, White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz declined to do so.

He said he couldn't guess at the motives of the "luminaries" attending the demonstration.

He said he also doesn't understand a possible Republican plan to delay a vote disapproving the Iran deal. The new plan, details of which became public Wednesday, claims that the 60-day clock for consideration on the deal shouldn't have started ticking until after all details were made public. That includes the inspectors' implementation agreement with Iran, which negotiators and the United Nation's nuclear inspections arm have long said would be kept private, as is standard for such deals.

The Republicans' last-ditch effort to derail the Iran agreement "sounds like a plan hatched up at Tortilla Coast," Schultz said, referring to the Capitol Hill watering hole where Cruz reportedly has met with fellow lawmakers.

Obama didn’t address the subject. He sat on Air Force One next to Dr. Jill Biden, the wife of Vice President Joe Biden and a community college teacher, watching her grade papers, a fact he then reported to a crowd of 1,000 at the Macomb Community College.

Then he talked for a long time about college affordability, joked with the crowd about his gray hair and only obliquely mentioned "resistance from Congress" by members he said are "going in the opposite direction."

Some are talking about shutting down the government at the end of the month, he said.

All of that "has to do with politics and presidential elections and posturing and all that good stuff," he said, his voice trailing off.

For more White House coverage, follow @cparsons.

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