U.S. Republican Graham says Hillary could have reached better deal on Iran

Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton smiles as she attends the early childhood development initiative "talk to you baby" in Brooklyn, New York April 1, 2015 . REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz (Reuters)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senator Lindsey Graham, a possible 2016 Republican presidential contender, said the United States should put off a final nuclear agreement with Iran until after the U.S. election and said Democrat Hillary Clinton could get a better deal. The South Carolina Republican sharply criticized President Barack Obama's negotiating skills in talks to contain Iran's nuclear program. The only candidate he mentioned by name as being able to do better was the Democrats' presidential favorite. "Keep the interim deal in place. Allow a new president in 2017, Democrat or Republican, to take a crack," Graham told CBS' "Face the Nation" program. "The best deal comes with a new president. Hillary Clinton would do better. I think everybody on our side except maybe Rand Paul could do better." Many Republicans have criticized the Obama administration’s negotiations with Iran as not tough enough and greeted the framework agreement reached last week in Lausanne, Switzerland, with skepticism. Clinton, Graham's former colleague in the U.S. Senate and Obama's first secretary of state, called the framework agreement an important step toward preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. She is expected to announce her candidacy for the U.S. Democratic presidential nomination this spring. Besides Graham, Republicans who are seeking or considering a run on the Republican side include Texas Senator Ted Cruz, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. U.S. Senator Rand Paul, a libertarian from Kentucky, has espoused a non-interventionist foreign policy. (Reporting by Howard Schneider and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Clelia Oziel)