Dems Turn on Obama’s Pick for Norwegian Ambassador

Nominee failed to know basic facts on Norway during confirmation hearing

Ambassador to Norway George Tsunis

George Tsunis / CSPAN


Minnesota's two Democratic senators have told the White House that they will not support the nomination of a major Obama fundraiser to become ambassador of Norway.

Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken are joining in on opposition to Chartwell Hotels founder George Tsunis after he exhibited limited to no knowledge about Norway during a painful confirmation hearing in January. Video of the hearing sparked outrage in Norway and amongst constituents in Minnesota, which contains the nation's largest Norwegian population.

The Washington Post reports:

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.) had notified the White House that she intended to oppose the nomination. This week, Sen. Al Franken (D., Minn.) sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry saying that his constituents — Minnesota has the country’s largest Norwegian American population — were concerned that Tsunis would not be able "to serve effectively."

"We should not do anything that might unnecessarily damage our strong relationship with Norway," Franken told Kerry.

Tsunis, grilled by Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.) at a confirmation hearing January, stumbled badly on a question about anti-immigrant sentiment in Norway. He also referred to Norway’s "president," when, as a constitutional monarchy, that nation doesn’t have a president. (It does have a border with Russia, however.)

Tsunis fell flat on multiple basic facts when asked question about Norway, and had to be corrected multiple times during questioning from McCain.

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