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J Street runs ads in Maryland supporting Iran deal

J Street, a Jewish group, is spending $245,000 on ads supporting Iran deal.

A group supporting President Barack Obama's nuclear agreement with Iran will begin airing a new television advertisement in Baltimore on Wednesday, the latest entrant into an escalating ad campaign in Sen. Ben Cardin's home state.

J Street, a left-leaning Jewish group that describes itself as pro-Israel and pro-peace, will spend $245,000 in the Baltimore market in coming days to run a spot that argues the agreement is "good for Israel, good for America and makes both countries safer."

The advertisement follows those run in Maryland by groups opposed to the deal, including Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran -- a nonprofit formed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee -- and American Security Initiative, which was created by three former senators, Republicans Saxby Chambliss of Georgia and Norm Coleman of Minnesota, as well as Democrat Evan Bayh of Indiana.

J Street is running the ads in four states in addition to Maryland: Colorado, Oregon, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

The Obama administration says the agreement, announced July 14, would limit Iran's nuclear ambitions for at least a decade in exchange for lifting sanctions that have hobbled the country's economy. But opponents say the deal gives too much away to Iran, that there are loopholes in the inspections and that it paves the way for the Tehran to develop its nuclear capability after decade is over.

Obama is scheduled to deliver a speech on the agreement at American University on Wednesday.

The outside advertising is working its way into Maryland as Cardin, the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, emerges as a central figure in the deal's review.

Cardin, an ally of the Obama administration, has not yet said whether he will support the agreement. His decision could influence other wavering Democrats in Congress, which has until Sept. 17 to reject the pact.

Overall, J Street plans to spend more than $5 million on the campaign as lawmakers are returning to their home states for the August recess. GOP leaders said Tuesday that the House will vote on a resolution rejecting the deal when lawmakers return to Washington. 

The 30-second ad states that the agreement negotiated by the U.S. and five other world leaders contains "the toughest inspection program in history." It also quotes former Israeli security officials who support the agreement.

"The bottom line is that many leading Israeli security experts believe, like the majority of American Jews, that this deal is the best option for the U.S. and for Israel, and that it makes both countries safer," the group's president, Jeremy Ben-Ami, said in a statement.

"It's critical that our elected leaders know the facts as they head home for recess and headlong into the debate swirling around this deal in their home communities."

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