A heavyweight of US politics is carrying on the growing chorus against US President Barack Obama’s nomination of George James Tsunis as the next ambassador to Norway. During a meeting in Washington DC on Wednesday, Senator John McCain told Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende he’d do everything he could to block the nomination.
“I’m going to vote against Tsunis, because I believe he is not qualified,” said McCain. Tsunis made a series of gaffes during his US Senate confirmation hearing in January, under McCain’s own line of questioning about the popularity of Norway’s Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet). Tsunis called the party a “marginal element” which “spews out hate – but I will point out that Norway has been quick to condemn them.”
McCain cut Tsunis short, asking how the Norwegian government could have condemned a party that was in government. Earlier, a stuttering Tsunis had stopped mid-sentence when trying to explain trade relations between the two counties, and had referred to Norway’s “president” when the country instead has a prime minister and monarch.
The Progress Party demanded an apology from the wealthy hotelier and Obama supporter, and many other Norwegian-Americans have since called for his nomination to be withdrawn. No date has been set for the US Senate to vote on the nomination. The previous US ambassador to Norway, Barry B White, finished up in the role last autumn, leaving the US Embassy in Oslo without an ambassador for the past six months.