McCain: Obama's Pick for Norway Envoy 'a Joke'

Friday, 11 Apr 2014 03:12 PM

By Courtney Coren

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Sen. John McCain has reiterated his promise to lead the opposition to several of President Barack Obama's ambassador picks by complicating their confirmations as much as possible.

In particular, McCain, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has placed special focus on Obama's nominee for ambassador to Norway, George Tsunis, a hotelier who helped raise $850,000 for the president during his re-election campaign as a bundler in 2012.

"The guy would be a joke," McCain said Thursday during a committee hearing, The Washington Examiner reports. "Everyone in Norway knows about him."

Because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid changed Senate rules with the so-called "nuclear option," allowing nominees to be approved by the Senate by a simple majority of 51 votes, nominations can no longer be placed on hold or filibustered by a single senator.

This is also fueling McCain's drive to fight the nominees.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin of Illinois called the current ambassador nominees noncontroversial at a Foreign Relations Committee meeting.

"All of them are totally unqualified," McCain objected. "In fact, an embarrassment. By majority vote, we will probably confirm them. We will probably confirm them, depriving me of my constitutional right of advise and consent. Because now the majority rules.

"I can assure you that I will object and continue to drag it out just as much as I can because you should pay a price," McCain said. "You should pay a price for what you did when you changed the rules without the traditional way of changing them."

During a hearing in February, Tsunis had offered praise for Norway's president, even though it doesn't have one. McCain pointed out that it is a constitutional monarchy. The nominee also said that the Progress Party was denounced by the Norwegian government.

At that point, McCain explained to the nominee that the very Progress Party he was referring to is actually part of Norway's coalition government.

In addition, Tsunis admitted that he had never been to the European country.

McCain called the pick "ignorant," and said that "it's a disservice to our country to send that kind of unqualified candidate to represent us and our interest there."

He also said that "the Norwegian people are not very happy about getting that kind of ambassador to represent the United States in their country."

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