Andrea Mitchell   |  June 13, 2013

Iranian presidential candidates wrap up final day of campaigning

Karim Sadjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment talks about the Iranian election and explains how much power the newly elected president will have going forward.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> iranian presidential candidates have wrapped up their final day of campaigning ahead of tomorrow's big election. they choose a successor to president ahmadinejad . here's the latest from tehran .

>> reporter: this is the tehran mayor giving his first and only rally in the country's capital. a large crowd has gathered here to hear him speak and his campaign has gathered momentum. but in a country with no accurate opinion poll , it is very difficult to tell who is going to win this election.

>> translator: i am vote in voting.

>> reporter: supporters for one candidate chanted for him wearing purple bracelets to show their support. he's a centrist and has been endorsed by the country's leading reformists. he is not a reformist, though he is the closest thing in this election.

>> translator: he is close to the supreme leader . he is the only choice.

>> translator: he will stand proud on the nuclear issue and against america. interpr interpret.

>> reporter: it is not hard to find the skeptical and disenfranchised. this woman told me she's not going to vote because it won't make any difference. when i asked her why she came to the rally, she told me she was funneled into the square by the police on her way home. these girls were encouraged to attend the ral i had but told me that they were too young to vote. tomorrow the iranians go to the ballot box and it will be clear if the voter turnout is low or high. if there is a big turnout, it could favor the man backed by the reformists. if not, it could favor the hard-liners. and if it is too close to fall, it will go to a second round next week.

>> ali, you've got this dichotomy between the candidates. all of our reporting from this side of the equation seems to be that rohani.

>> reporter: if there is a lot of apathy towards the vote tomorrow, he won't stand a chance. big think that's playing in his favor is the two big reformist candidates, former president khatami and former president rafsanjani have thrown their weight behind him and that packs a lot of punch for voters in iran . that might get people enthusiastic about it. it's been sold to them, you are life could become a lot more difficult so come on out and vote. we'll have to wait until tomorrow and see how much of the crowds gather for the candidates.

>> profoundly a question as to whether it makes any difference since all the real power and certainly the power over decisions over nuclear issues and foreign policy rest with the supreme leader .

>> reporter: that's a very good point, andrea . let's not make any mistake. iran is a theocracy with democratic institutions and elements. by the rules of the constitution, the supreme leader is the most powerful man in the country, followed by the president. but the president plays a very important role. he sets the tone nuclear negotiations with world powers . he is the face around the table talking to presidents and prime ministers around the world and he is the one coming back, advising how these meetings have gone. so he does play an important role. but at the end of the day , all matters of state, foreign policy and nuclear issues are ultimately decided by the supreme leader .

>> al aruzzi, thank you.

>>> kareem , you've been watching this for so many years. will this election make any difference in terms of the nuclear program , in relations with the u.s. and obviously in the region? and also the life of the iranian people .

>> andrea , i think the elections do make a difference to the iranian people because what happened when you have a new president in tehran is actually somewhat similar to when have you a new president in washington. there is a whole new team of people, team of personnel that come to staff the bureaucracies. and when iran had a reformist president, mohammed khatami , he brought in folks more politically tolerant and more democratically capable. it made a difference. khatami was not calling for a dialogue of zicivilizations whereas ahmadinejad will be known for holocaust denial and diatribes against israel. for the iranian people it does make a difference. not a terrible difference, but i think as allahi alluded to earlier, when it comes to nuclear policy, iran 's role in the region, its hostility for israel, its support for assad and its resistance against the united states , it is still the supreme leader to has to decide, not the president.

>> kareem , we've seen a complete breakdown of the talks that they tried to hold the last couple of months and a ramping up of military action and also iran 's proxy role through hezbollah, very actively obviously in syria propping up the assad regime. this has gotten so much more complicated. it is no longer just about nuclear weapons . if we can at all talk about nuclear weapons and not being the possibility of developing nuclear weapons is not being important, but this now is so complicated throughout the region.

>> you know, you're absolutely right, andrea . if you think about it, if you look at the world from the oval office , iran has become integral to at least seven major national security challenges. you have afghanistan, iraq, israeli- palestinian conflict , syria, terrorism, energy, and then the nuclear issue, as you mention. so i think from the vantage point of president obama , there's very little interest in a military conflict with iran because you're going to exacerbate all of those aforementioned issues. i really think that if john kerry or chuck hagel or president obama could push a button and resolve this conflict with iran , they would. but it's very difficult to make amends with a regime in tehran , sp particularly the supreme leader , who almost needs the u.s. for his own internal legitimacy.

>> thank you so much, kareem . always good to talk to you. we will follow up after the election and the results.