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Whole Minnesota delegation wants Obama to drop Norway ambassador pick


All of the Minnesotans in the U.S. House have now joined the state's Senators in opposing President Obama's nominee to be ambassador to Norway.

MinnPost reports the state's eight House members signed a letter urging the president to withdraw his nomination of New York business executive George Tsunis.

Tsunis has been widely criticized for his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January. The letter to President Obama was written by two House members from Minnesota – Democrat Betty McCollum and Republican Erik Paulsen – and signed by 30 of their peers. It reads in part:

"During his testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January, Mr. Tsunis exhibited an embarrassing lack of knowledge of Norway including admitting he has never visited the country, insulting part of the coalition government, and being unable to answer even a basic question about new opportunities for cooperation between our two countries.”

Norway is ruled by a monarchy but Tsunis mistakenly referred to the country as having a president. Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona concluded his questioning of Tsunis with a sarcastic remark calling him an incredibly highly qualified nominee.

McCollum and Paulsen expressed their opposition to Tsunis earlier this month, soon after Minnesota's U.S. Senators – Democrats Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken – had done the same. Minnesota has the largest population of Norwegian-Americans and Paulsen and McCollum co-chair the Friends of Norway caucus in the House.

Tsunis is the CEO of Chartwell Hotels and reportedly helped raise nearly $1 million for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012.

South Dakota Democratic Sen. Tim Johnson told the Sioux Falls Argus Leader this month he will oppose Tsunis' nomination. Republican Sen. John Thune told the newspaper President Obama is using the diplomatic post to repay a political favor rather than appointing a qualified candidate.

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