Norway, Nor … how? White House stands behind diplomatic post nominees

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The White House said Friday that President Obama has confidence in his nominees for diplomatic posts, including a former top fundraiser who bungled simple questions about Norway during his Senate confirmation hearing.

“I can tell you that this president has confidence in all of the nominees he’s put forward for ambassadorial positions as well as other positions in the administration,” said White House press secretary Jay Carney.

A reporter asked specifically about Mr. Obama’s confidence in George Tsunis, nominated to be the U.S. ambassador to Norway after he raised more than $1 million for the president’s re-election campaign. Mr. Tsunis and his wife also gave $300,000 to Democratic super PACs and $75,800 to the Obama Victory Fund.

Mr. Tsunis told senators during a recent confirmation hearing that he’s never been to Norway, and he made several incorrect statements about the country. He referred to Norway’s “president,” although the country is a constitutional monarchy and executive power rests with the prime minister.

Mr. Tsunis also characterized Norway’s anti-immigration Progress Party as a “fringe” element that had been denounced by the government, although it is part of Oslo’s governing coalition.

After he botched those answers, Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, mocked him, saying, “I have no more questions for this incredibly highly qualified group of nominees.”

Mr. Carney told reporters that he “didn’t see the hearing or the testimony” of Mr. Tsunis.

The president has tapped more than a dozen top campaign fundraisers and donors for diplomatic posts in the past year.

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