White House Press Secretary Jay Carney defended President Obama’s record of nominating big money campaign contributors as ambassadors, insisting the president has named “qualified nominees across the board.”
“Being a donor to the president’s campaign does not guarantee you a job in the administration,” Carney said. “But it does not prevent you from getting one either.”
More than half the political ambassadorial nominations President Obama has made so far in his second term have gone to people who helped raise more than $500,000 for his presidential campaigns.
But one of the most prestigious diplomatic posts in the world has been vacant for months: U.S. Ambassador to France.
Asked if the eventual nominee for France will be somebody who has raised $500,000 for the Obama campaign, Carney responded, “The president has made nominations to ambassadorial posts and other posts from the ranks of the private sector, from government service and has put in place qualified nominees across the board.”
At a recent confirmation hearing, President Obama’s nominees for Argentina, Norway and Hungary had trouble answering basic questions about the countries where they have been nominated to serve.
On Wednesday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) called on Obama to withdraw his nominee to be ambassador to Argentina, Noah Mamet. Mamet was a major campaign contributor to the Obama re-election campaign, but he acknowledged last week he has never been to Argentina.
“Look, every president has made political appointments of political allies and donors and so forth, and I understand that’s still the case and in some instances that works well — you know, if you’re going to Malta or if you’re going to the Bahamas,” Rubio told USA Today. “But not every country can you send a political appointee to, and Argentina is one of those countries that we can’t.”