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GOP Senators to Obama: Don't let Ahmadinejad into the country

This could get a bit of traction on the right: Senator John Cornyn and seven other Republican Senators are now calling on the Obama administration to deny Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad entry into the United States when he visits to address the U.N. next week.

In a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Senators -- which include John Ensign, David Vitter and others -- rip Iran as a state sponsor of terror, adding: "Iran and its leaders have directly contributed to the deaths of Americans." They conclude:

Allowing Ahmadinejad to enter the United States would serve only to grant this man a symbolic stage from which to spew his rhetoric against our nation and our allies in the global war on terror. As head of the State Department, the official agency with responsibility over visa issuance, we strongly urge you, based upon the statutory authorities and facts outlined in this letter, to deny Ahmadinejad entry into the United States.

If memory serves, though, Ahmadinejad visited the United States during the Bush years. In 2007 he gave a controversial speech at Columbia University, in which he claimed there are exactly zero homosexuals in Iran and opined the Holocaust should be treated as mere theory. While Cornyn did criticize the university for allowing him to speak, there's no indication that a large bloc of Republican Senators criticized the Bush administration over the visit or called on Bush to deny Ahmadinejad entry.

There's an obvious reason for this: It's a deeply unrealistic request that neither Bush nor Obama would ever honor. It's a request that isn't meant to be honored.

And as our reporter Amanda Erickson points out, Bush himself said he was okay with the visit, adding that our willingness to let him in and express his point of view "really speaks to the freedoms of the country."

By Greg Sargent  |  April 30, 2010; 4:39 PM ET
Categories:  Foreign policy and national security  
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