WASHINGTON - Senate Republicans are pressing the White House to dump its nominee to be the next ambassador to Iraq, citing concerns about his abilities and judgment amid allegations that he acted inappropriately while working at the US Embassy in Baghdad during President George W. Bush’s second term.
Six GOP members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee sent a letter to President Obama on Wednesday calling on him to withdraw Brett McGurk’s nomination. In the letter, they say McGurk “lacks the leadership and management experience’’ needed for the job.
The White House rejected the call, but it was not clear if the administration could win a battle over the nomination.
The senators said their “strong concerns’’ about McGurk’s qualifications were amplified by e-mails detailing what they called his “unprofessional conduct.’’
“Recent information has surfaced to call into question the prudence of moving forward with the nominee at this time,’’ they said.
Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, hinted that the nomination could be reconsidered. He had spoken with Vice President Joe Biden about McGurk.
“It’s under advisement,’’ he said. “I think there are some very fair questions being asked and they need to be answered.’’
The e-mails in question indicate that McGurk had an intimate relationship with a Baghdad-based female American journalist while he was married to another woman and working at the embassy there in 2008. McGurk has since married the reporter, Gina Chon, who resigned from The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday after acknowledging that she violated in-house rules by showing McGurk unpublished stories. McGurk has not responded to requests for comment.
“We believe the nominee lacks the leadership and management experience necessary to head America’s largest embassy, in one of the world’s most volatile regions,’’ the senators’ letter said. It is signed by Jim DeMint of South Carolina, James Risch of Idaho, John Barrasso of Wyoming, Mike Lee of Utah, Marco Rubio of Florida, and James Inhofe of Oklahoma.
McGurk, former Supreme Court law clerk to the late Chief Justice William Rehnquist, was assigned to the embassy in Baghdad as a National Security Council staffer during the Bush administration and then led negotiations with Iraqi officials over an agreement that would govern security cooperation after US troops left the country.
— Associated Press
Republicans book $18m in ads for House races
WASHINGTON - House Republicans are reserving more than $18 million in ad time as they look to protect their majority.
The ad reservation, from the independent expenditure arm of the National Republican Congressional Committee, includes a mix of seats currently held by Democrats and seats where Republican incumbents are facing strong challenges. The initial reservation includes about $3 million in ad time in California, $2.2 million in the Boston area, and $1.6 million in Colorado.
As with House Democrats, who announced $32 million in ad reservations earlier this year, the Republicans could shift their spending or increase it. But the ad reservations offer an early idea of where Republicans think they will play offense and defense. In Massachusetts, Republican Sean Bielat and Democrat Joseph P. Kennedy III are vying for the seat of Barney Frank. Also, Representative John Tierney of Salem is expecting a challenge from Republican Richard Tisei, a former state senator.
— Associated Press
Romney labels Obama as ‘antibusiness, antijobs’
WASHINGTON - Mitt Romney, speaking before a group of high-powered business leaders on Wednesday, heightened his criticism of President Obama, accusing the Democratic incumbent of implementing “the most anti-investment, antibusiness, antijobs series of policies in modern American history.’’
“I want America to be the home to the best job-creating machine in the world,’’ Romney said to the Business Roundtable in downtown Washington. “Government has to be the partner, the friend, the ally, the supporter of enterprise. Not the enemy.’’
The economy has taken center stage in the presidential race and will be a major topic Thursday. Romney and Obama will both be in the key state of Ohio, and Obama is expected to deliver a speech focused on the economy. His address comes a week after he said that the private sector was “doing fine,’’ a comment that Republicans have characterized as out of touch.
Romney attempted to disparage Obama’s remarks before they are even delivered.
“My own view is, he will speak eloquently,’’ Romney said. “But the words are cheap.’’
Romney also tried to counter charges from Democrats that his policies are in line with President George W. Bush’s and will only take the country backward.
“I’m not going back to a prior time,’’ Romney said. “This is a new time.’’
But Romney did pledge to undo many of the policies that have been implemented under Obama. He would repeal the health care law, he said, if the Supreme Court doesn’t rule it unconstitutional first. He would change the country’s energy policies and open up more federal lands for oil drilling. The National Labor Relations Board, Romney said, would either be “restructured’’ or “repeopled.’’
Romney stayed to take questions. But following his 28-minute address - held at the Newseum, which is situated between the US Capitol and the White House - reporters were escorted out of the room and weren’t allowed to listen to the questions.
— Matt Viser