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A top Senate Democrat criticized the organizers of an anti-Iran rally. U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), speaking to Jewish and Israeli media on an Obama campaign conference call Friday afternoon, said there were “basic mistakes made by organizers of the rally” in the “way invitations were issued.”

Monday’s rally is protesting the appearance of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the United Nations and his country’s nuclear program.

Durbin, the Senate’s minority whip, added that the organizers of the rally, chiefly the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, are “my friends” and that he was sure “they never meant for” a problem to occur, but “it did. And it became awkward.” He was referring to the fact that the Republican vice-presidential nominee, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, accepted an invitation to speak at the event early last week, while the Obama campaign was not asked to send a representative until the morning of Sept. 17. U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) had accepted an invitation to speak in August, but pulled out when she learned that Palin had been invited.

Durbin noted that Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden could not attend, so the campaign decided to send Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) until organizers decided to disinvite all elected officials on Thursday afternoon.

Durbin also slammed Republicans for blocking Iran sanctions legislation.

The legislation that failed to pass Sept. 17 would have closed loopholes in sanctions on Iran and enabled pension plans to divest from the country by protecting them from investor lawsuits. “It would have sent a strong message to Iran, but in addition to that it would have given us more tools and more authorities to stop the Iranians from developing nuclear weapons,” Durbin said.

He said Republicans blocked a vote on the legislation to deny “a victory” to Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), the Democratic presidential nominee who authored the component of the bill blocking lawsuits. “We feel this should be a nonpartisan issue,” Durbin said.

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