U.S. Republican leaders are assailing the White House for what they see as weakness in dealing with Iran only days before Tehran is expected to obtain relief from U.S. economic sanctions.
In a Republican presidential debate and a congressional retreat on January 14, Republicans questioned why President Barack Obama failed to mention Iran's daylong detention of 10 U.S. sailors in his State of the Union address on January 12, even as Iranian television was airing footage of them in captivity.
"It was heartbreaking," Senator Ted Cruz, a leading GOP presidential candidate, said of images of the detained Americans with their hands on their heads.
"Iran is on a roll, and the perception is that the...administration is getting rolled at this moment," said House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Ed Royce. "We need to see more backbone, not backing down."
Representative Steve Scalise, the No. 3 House Republican, told reporters at the retreat, "That would have never happened if our enemies were afraid of America's strength in the world."