Image via WikipediaLesley Clark reported for McClatchyDC that nine former assistant secretaries of state who served under Republican and Democratic presidents wrote to the new Senator from Florida urging him to lift his opposition to Thomas Shannon, President Obama’s nominee for US Ambassador to Brazil: "This continuing, prolonged vacancy sends an unintended signal that the United States does not consider Brazil an important relationship." (Florida Sen. LeMieux blasted for blocking appointment of Brazil diplomat | November 19, 2009).
This is what Senator LeMieux said according to the report:
"I feel like I have a role and a responsibility far greater than other senators do in terms of anything that deals with Latin America, and I take that job seriously," LeMieux said. "This is about the entire hemisphere. This is about Venezuela, El Salvador, Bolivia, Colombia and Brazil and Cuba and the role that Mr. Shannon played . . . and the role he will play. We are burning the midnight oil here to make sure I'm doing the best job I can for 18 million Floridians, and that's my motivation."
Clark also writes: “Senate staffers suggested Wednesday that LeMieux -- who was appointed by Gov. Charlie Crist to fill the seat vacated by Mel Martinez -- could be trying to burnish his Cuba credentials to help Crist, who faces a Cuban-American opponent in the Republican primary for the Senate seat. LeMieux said it was his responsibility as Florida's senator to vet the nominee, noting that he had heard concerns about Shannon's record from constituents and fellow members of Congress.”
The nine former assistant secretaries reportedly also noted that Shannon had been approved by the Foreign Relations Committee -- of which LeMieux is not a member and that Shannon was endorsed by the committee in a 14-to-4 vote.