- Clintons call Klein, Halper, Kessler ‘a Hat Trick of despicable actors’: report
- Boehner accuses Obama of ‘legacy of lawlessness’
- Pro-marijuana group claims responsibility for Brooklyn Bridge flag swap
- Young adults shun Obamacare mostly due to cost: survey
- Stabbing attack on transgender girl, 15, was ‘bias motivated,’ police say
- LGBT adults still lean overwhelmingly toward Democratic Party
- Lawmakers rattled by Syria genocide horrors, call on Obama to act
- 3 African leaders cancel trip to U.S. over Ebola outbreak; Obama still plans summit
- Sarah Palin’s online channel hits snag as Stephen Colbert buys similar URL
- SWAT spends seven hours in standoff with empty home
Embassy Row: Confirmation confrontation
Question of the Day
The diplomatic dispute involved Cuban spies, gay rights, partisan anger, ethnic politics and a potential Republican vice-presidential candidate who switched votes to endorse her.
Sen. Marco Rubio helped secure nine Republican colleagues in favor of Miss Aponte when the Senate voted 62-37 Thursday to cut off debate on her nomination. That was two more votes than the Democrats needed to prevent a Republican filibuster. The Senate then approved her on a voice vote.
The Florida Republican, often mentioned as a possible running mate for presidential candidate Mitt Romney, had voted against Miss Aponte twice before but insisted his opposition was not personal. Mr.. Rubio explained that he had objections to certain of President Obama’s policies in Latin America, and opposed all of his diplomatic nominees in the Western Hemisphere to get the White House’s attention.
Mr. Rubio, a Cuban-American, accused Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of delaying the vote on Miss Aponte for six months so the Nevada Democrat could help raise Hispanic anger against her Republican opponents.
“Last December, I personally informed [Mr. Reid] that we had secured enough votes for her confirmation,” Mr.. Rubio said. “But instead of giving her a vote, he decided to use her nomination to help the White House play divisive ethnic politics, particularly to try to divide two groups of Hispanics against each other.”
Miss Aponte is a Puerto Rican-born D.C. lawyer and Democratic Party activist.
“These are the tactics this administration increasingly uses, which has made it the most deliberately divisive presidency in modern times,” Mr.. Rubio added.
Mr.. Reid declined to mention Mr.. Rubio’s role in getting enough Republicans to force a vote on her nomination, saying only that he was “pleased that a few, reasonable Senate Republicans dropped their unwarranted opposition.”
Miss Aponte has been a controversial nominee since President Bill Clinton first tried to name her as an ambassador in 1998. Immediately stories emerged about her romantic relations with a Cuban-American businessman who had close ties to Cuban diplomats in Washington.
The FBI cleared her of any links to spying for the Cubans, but she withdrew her nomination as ambassador to the Dominican Republic before senators had a chance question her in a confirmation hearing.
Mr.. Obama ran into the same suspicions in 2009 when he first nominated her to serve as ambassador to El Salvador. Faced with possible Senate rejection, Mr.. Obama appointed her ambassador for a temporary term during a congressional recess the next year. However, Miss Aponte compounded the dispute about her qualifications by promoting gay rights in an article for an El Salvador newspaper that ran in June 2011 after Mr.. Obama declared “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month.”
Her article enraged Sen. Jim DeMint, the South Carolina Republican who mounted a campaign to block her nomination.
Mr.. DeMint criticized her for “igniting controversy” in the conservative Catholic nation by “lecturing their people on the need to accept and support the gay lifestyle.”
Miss Aponte’s appointment ended in December, and she returned to Washington, where Mr.. Obama nominated her again.
Mr.. DeMint raised no objections Thursday but voted against her, along with the 36 other Republicans.
Along with Mr. Rubio, the Republican senators who backed her were: Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Scott P. Brown of Massachusetts, Susan M. Collins of Maine, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Richard G. Lugar of Indiana, John McCain of Arizona, Lisa A. Murkowski of Alaska and Olympia J. Snowe of Maine.
• Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The column is published on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
James Morrison joined the The Washington Times in 1983 as a local reporter covering Alexandria, Va. A year later, he was assigned to open a Times bureau in Canada. From 1987 to 1989, Mr. Morrison was The Washington Times reporter in London, covering Britain, Western Europe and NATO issues. After returning to Washington, he served as an assistant foreign editor ...
- Embassy Row: India strikes back over diplomat's arrest
- Embassy Row: India 'shocked,' 'appalled' by consular officer's arrest
- Wife of jailed U.S. Christian in Iran calls for White House help
- Embassy Row: Wife of Christian held in Iran feels abandoned by Obama
- Senate debate: Is Santa Claus an American citizen?
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
By Ted Cruz
Israel saves its enemies; Hamas endangers its friends
- CIA admits improperly hacking Senate computers in search of Bush-era information
- Chicken pox outbreak puts illegal immigrant facility on lockdown
- CRUZ: A tale of two hospitals: One in Israel, one in Gaza
- GOP report sees ties between rich donors, green 'nonprofits'
- U.S. troops told not to eat, drink in front of Muslims during Ramadan
- Al Gore's climate-changers at EPA hearings foiled by cool temperatures
- Catholic League slams Obama: 'Do Christian lives mean so little to you?'
- Israel surprised by Hamas tunnel network
- House votes to sue President Obama over claims of presidential power
- EDITORIAL: The real Lois Lerner exposed in newly released emails
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world