WASHINGTON — The opposition to President Barack Obama’s nominee for U.S. ambassador to Norway is growing in Congress, with a group of House Democrats and Republicans asserting that George Tsunis’ “embarrassing lack of knowledge” about the country makes him unqualified.
In a letter last week and a statement on Friday, lawmakers highlight Tsunis’ comments about Norway at his Senate confirmation hearing in January and called on Obama to withdraw the nomination. The president nominated Tsunis, a New Yorker, Democratic fundraiser and chairman of Chartwell Hotels, to the post.
At his Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Tsunis bungled questions about Norway’s political parties and spoke of Norway’s president even though it is a constitutional monarchy.
“The answers provided by Mr. Tsunis clearly demonstrate that he is unqualified for this position and may damage an important international bond if confirmed,” wrote the 32 lawmakers, including a half dozen Democrats, many from the Midwest, home to many Norwegian-Americans.
They said that in light of Russian aggression, it was critical for the United States to have a knowledgeable and respected ambassador in Norway.
“His ill-informed comments deeply offended several Norwegian officials and have caused many to doubt his ability to serve as an effective ambassador,” the lawmakers wrote.
In a separate statement on Friday, Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., said Obama should do “what is best for Norway and America, not what is politically expedient for his fundraisers and cronies.”
Minnesota’s two Democratic senators — Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar — have said they oppose the nominee.
DONNA CASSATA, Associated Press