WASHINGTON -- Vice President Joe Biden gave an impassioned pitch in support of the Iran nuclear deal during a conference call with top Democratic Party officials Wednesday, the latest in the administration's aggressive public relations campaign around the accord.
"The idea that there's a better deal out there is absolutely poppycock," said Biden, asking his fellow Democrats to rally around the nuclear accord negotiated by the United States, Iran and five world powers.
The Democratic National Committee hosted the call for its members nationwide, and attendees were told they would be allowed to ask questions of the vice president. The organizers, however, booted The Huffington Post from the call before the question-and-answer session because the call was meant to be off the record and not open to the press. (The Huffington Post had never agreed to the call's off-the-record terms.)
Biden, who is considering whether to launch a presidential bid in the coming weeks, primarily addressed criticism of the deal and any misgivings members may have. He said it was folly to think negotiators could have waited out Iran for a better deal, and revealed that he came to the discussion as a one-time skeptic of a diplomatic resolution to Iran's nuclear weapons program.
"I was extremely skeptical about whether or not we could ever get them [Iran] to the table and ever move them in a direction where there would be an agreement that made sense for us, for Israel and for the world. ... I've been the guy who's most skeptical in the outfit," Biden said. "I am strongly supportive of this agreement. Standing on its own legs, it's a good agreement."
Biden also addressed concerns about Israel's security, which many on-the-fence Democrats have cited as the reason for their hesitancy. He said his own biography was reason enough to believe the deal was strong on the merits.
"I don't think you will find -- even with people who may disagree with me on this deal -- anybody who has a stronger record in support of Israel who is still active in American politics -- in the House, the Senate, state level or in the administration -- than me. I take a backseat to no one in my demonstrable support for Israel," said Biden. "That's the place from which I start."
The Biden call comes at a critical juncture for the future of the Iran deal. Next month, Congress will vote on a measure that would revoke President Barack Obama’s ability to provide some of the sanctions relief promised to Iran as part of the agreement reached on July 14.
The administration has worked tirelessly to convince Democrats to stay with the president so that he can potentially beat back any effort to override his veto of the measure. In the Senate, only Sens. Robert Menendez (N.J.) and Chuck Schumer (N.Y.) have come out against it and sided with Republicans, while 29 Democrats have announced their support. The administration needs 34 votes.
"I'm hearing, 'Look, this won't matter, just go ahead and reject the deal, we'll be in a better position,'" Biden said, putting forward the arguments of the deal's critics. "And by the way, the idea that we're going to reject a deal ... and we end up in a weaker position, that we're then going to get a bigger deal in a weaker position, is also an oxymoron. But that's what you're going to be hearing."
UPDATE: 7:13 p.m. -- During the question-and-answer session, according to CNN, a participant asked Biden about his potential presidential run.
"We're dealing at home with ... whether or not there is the emotional fuel at this time to run," he said. "If I were to announce to run, I have to be able to commit to all of you that I would be able to give it my whole heart and my whole soul, and right now, both are pretty well banged up."