Obama Goes Head-to-Head With GOP on Arms Treaty
Pushes for lame-duck vote ... with big political implications
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Nov 19, 2010 6:23 AM CST
President Barack Obama drops by a meeting hosted by Vice President Joe Biden on the the New START pact (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) Thursday, Nov. 18, 2010.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(Newser) – By urging a lame-duck vote on a new arms-control treaty with Russia, President Obama is setting up a face-off with Senate Republicans that could set the political tone for the next two years, writes Peter Baker in the New York Times. If the treaty is ratified, Obama will prove his strength despite midterm losses; if it’s not, he risks underscoring a “weakened” image “at home and abroad.” "I would say it’s the biggest gamble he’s taken so far, certainly on foreign policy,” says an analyst.

If the New Start treaty is not passed, it could hurt both our relations with Russia and ties with the international coalition against Iran’s nuclear program, writes Baker. But the White House currently has only one Republican senator, Indiana's Richard Lugar, on its side; it needs at least 8 more to ratify the treaty, but most seem to be following in the footsteps of Sen. Jon Kyl, the GOP-designated arbiter of the deal: A survey of the 14 Republicans who were thought to be possible supporters has returned unenthusiastic results, with 10 saying they were undecided and four not answering.