WASHINGTON -- Rep. Donna F. Edwards on Tuesday reissued her criticism of Rep. Chris Van Hollen over the pending nuclear agreement with Iran, arguing in a statement released by her campaign that he is "hiding on the sidelines" on the issue.
"Congressman Van Hollen continues to hold his finger to the wind and flirt with the same position as Donald Trump and Ted Cruz," Edwards campaign spokesman Benjamin Gerdes said in a statement. "After 14 days, Marylanders deserve to know why Congressman Van Hollen is putting his personal politics ahead of progressive principles."
Edwards, a Prince George's County Democrat, issued a similar statement -- albeit without the reference to conservative presidential candidates -- days after the agreement was first announced. Edwards was an early supporter of the deal.
A Van Hollen spokesman described Edwards' criticism as "silly" and "desparate." The spokesman noted that many other Democrats, including Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland, the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as well as Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski of Maryland are also still studying it.
"You have to wonder about the credibility of a Maryland U.S. Senate candidate who, in a desperate play for cheap political points, is willing to compare responsible legislators like Barbara Mikulski, Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen to the likes of Donald Trump," the spokesman, Erik Dorey, said in a statement. "It's a silly and cynical display of exactly the kind of politics that shortchanges Maryland voters who deserve better."
Edwards has continued to hit her opponent on the issue in part because he is in a more precarious spot. Van Hollen has significant support in the Jewish community, particularly among those who oppose the deal. The Montgomery County Democrat will ultimately have to choose between those backers and President Barack Obama.
And she has noted that other prominent Democrats quickly backed the plan, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton -- who is leading the field of Democratic presidential candidates -- and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.
The Baltimore Jewish Council on Monday became the latest group to oppose the deal, arguing in a statement that "the agreement does not foreclose Iran's ability to obtain a nuclear weapon and, indeed, could lead to highly unstable conditions in the Middle East and around the world."
J-Street, a liberal Jewish group that has long backed Edwards and the agreement, sent an email to supporters this week telling them to contact Van Hollen and note their support. That email was blasted to all House members, not just Van Hollen. "With this deal, we'll have the toughest-ever monitoring and inspections program and preserve the international sanctions regime if Iran tries to cheat," the email said.
President Barack Obama and world leaders announced an agreement with Tehran on July 14 that will allow for inspections of nuclear facilities in the country in exchange for the lifting of some sanctions. Republican leaders are opposing the deal, but many Democrats have been more circumspect.
It is the president's own party that many observers are watching most closely because Democrats will be needed to help override a veto if the GOP-led Congress initially rejects the agreement.