Entries in Ambassador (8)


US Ambassador Shows Muscle in Holiday Card

Bruce Oreck / Facebook(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. Ambassador to Finland Bruce Oreck is offering Helskini “a different take on the elder statesman” for the holidays.

Oreck posted a special edition of the embassy’s 2012 holiday card, featuring his bulging bicep, to his official Facebook account Tuesday and reportedly also mailed copies of it to friends.

The image comes from a photo shoot Oreck did last month for the Finnish fitness magazine “ProBody.” A similar shot donned the cover of the Dec. 4 issue, which included an interview with the ambassador.

“I say 60 is the new 40. My wife says, in my case, 60 is the new 58,” Oreck said of the shoot in a Facebook post. “One way or the other, fitness is important.”

How does he keep his arms so big?  Oreck offered this advice to Finns in a video on the ProBody blog: “You never get to stop. You’ve got to do it every day – or all the time, I should say, for the rest of your days. That’s how it counts. Can’t quit now.”

Bruce Oreck, whose father is vacuum-maker David Oreck, was appointed ambassador by President Obama in 2009.  He was one of Obama’s top campaign financiers four years ago, bundling more than $500,000 in donations for the 2008 election.

The U.S. Embassy’s official holiday card also includes the ambassador’s wife, Cody Oreck.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Anna Wintour on Obama Short List for US Ambassador

GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As part of a second-term shakeup of his diplomatic corps, President Obama is considering the appointment of Vogue editor-in-chief and major campaign donor Anna Wintour as U.S. ambassador to Great Britain or France.

The news, which has been confirmed by ABC News, was first reported by Bloomberg News’ Hans Nichols, who said Wintour, 63, is among a handful of top Obama financiers interested in the posts, which have become choice presidential rewards for elite political supporters.

Vogue spokeswoman Megan Salt would not confirm whether Wintour has been approached about a diplomatic job, or whether she’d consider it, telling ABC News that Wintour is “very happy with her current job.”

Obama is also said to be eyeing campaign finance chairman Matthew Barzun and investment banker Marc Lasry for diplomatic appointments, according to Bloomberg.

All three figures – Wintour, Barzun and Lasry – are Obama bundlers, each raising more than $500,000 for his 2012 re-election bid, according to estimates provided by the Obama campaign.

Vogue spokeswoman Megan Salt would not confirm whether Wintour has been approached about a diplomatic job, or whether she’d consider it, telling ABC News that Wintour is “very happy with her current job.”

Neither Lasry nor Barzun, 42, the former U.S. ambassador to Sweden, could be reached for comment.  A White House official did not immediately respond to an ABC News request for comment.

Rumors of an official post for Wintour have swirled for months, following her high-profile role in hosting star-studded Obama fundraising events and pushing a grassroots campaign fundraising contest.

Wintour, actress Gwyneth Paltrow and designer Tom Ford hosted a $15,000-per-plate fundraiser for Obama in London Sept. 19, according to an invitation obtained by the Sunlight Foundation.

She also co-hosted a $40,000-per-plate fundraising dinner at the New York City home of actress Sarah Jessica Parker in June and a $35,800-a-head event at the Connecticut home of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein in August. Obama attended both events.

During the 2008 campaign, Obama spoke out against the influence of special interests inside the executive branch, criticizing those who had “turned our government into a game only they can afford to play.”

Still, as iWatch News reported last year, many of Obama’s 2008 campaign bundlers  received prestigious appointments and exclusive access.

Telecom executive and Obama financier Donald Gips became the ambassador to South Africa. The current U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom, Louis Susman, was a fundraising machine for Obama’s 2008 run.

And in April, Obama nominated Timothy Broas, who also raised more than $500,000 for Obama four years ago, to be the next ambassador to the Netherlands.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


McGurk Withdrawing Nomination to Be Ambassador to Iraq

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama’s nominee to be U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Brett McGurk, has withdrawn his nomination amid questions about his professionalism and experience.

Some on Capitol Hill already had questions about McGurk, a former National Security Council staffer for both President George W. Bush and President Obama, given his lack of managerial experience and role in negotiations with Iraq that ended with the United States withdrawing all combat troops.

It seemed McGurk might weather those criticisms, but earlier this month someone leaked emails he sent in 2008 while in Iraq, ones in which he wooed a female Wall Street Journal reporter — perhaps jokingly referencing favors of access and information. He later divorced his wife and married the reporter. Senators wanted to question McGurk about suggestions in the emails, jokingly or otherwise, that he would give a reporter access to sensitive information and power if their relationship blossomed.

Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said in a statement: “We greatly appreciate Brett’s years of service on behalf of the United States, to include tireless and effective leadership in Iraq from the height of the war to the moment our last troops left Iraq in December and through the challenging transition earlier this year. He served in two administrations, and his commitment to the national interest and to the mission was always clear. He has proven himself to be a skilled diplomat willing to take on some of the toughest challenges at the toughest times in a difficult region. While we regret to see Brett withdraw his candidacy there is no doubt that he will be called on again to serve the country.”

Last week, six Republican senators on the Foreign Relations Committee asked the president to withdraw McGurk’s nomination. White House press secretary Jay Carney said in response that “the president put forward this nominee because he is qualified for the job and will serve ably when he’s confirmed.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


State Department Sticks By McGurk, Despite Racy Emails

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- When sexually explicit emails first surfaced between Brett McGurk, the Obama administration’s nominee to be the ambassador to Iraq, and a Wall Street Journal reporter who later became McGurk’s wife, the State Department refused to comment.

But now spokesperson Victoria Nuland is making it clear the State Department is sticking by its choice.

Nuland defended the nomination of McGurk calling him “uniquely qualified” for the position.

“He spent the better part of the last decade serving our country in and out of Iraq, working for a Republican administration, a Democratic administration,” she told reporters. “He is in our view uniquely qualified to serve as the ambassador and we urge the Senate to act quickly on his nomination,” she said.

Nuland would not comment directly on the explicit nature of the emails, some of which included references to masturbation. The email exchanges were sent to Gina Chon in 2008 when McGurk was working in Iraq negotiating sensitive diplomatic issues such as the eventual withdrawal of U.S. troops. Chon was covering Iraq for the Journal. At the time McGurk was married. The blog Cryptome published their racy correspondence earlier this week. ABC News has confirmed the authenticity of the emails.

Senate sources tell ABC News that they have questions over whether McGurk was offering access to information and power, even jokingly, to Chon as part of their blooming relationship. For example in one email Chon jokingly refers to reporters as vultures attacking sources, to which he replies, “If treated to many glasses of wine -- you could be the chosen vulture.”

McGurk also talks about bringing the reporter with him to dinner with a leading Iraqi politician. He ultimately does not, but writes later, “I had a very good day with the Iraqi’s … the best yet. Can’t tell you about it of course. But you should definitely stay past Sunday,” he writes.

McGurk and Chon are now married, a point Nuland made to reporters saying that she had no comment on the emails except that “they are out there for everyone to see between him and the woman who subsequently became his wife.”

As to whether McGurk was properly vetted, Nuland maintained that “all of the necessary things were done before his nomination” and managed with the exact same process the administration uses for all nominations.

Nuland would not comment specifically about Republican Senate criticism of the emails and McGurk’s nomination, but confirmed that the department is continuing to work with members of Congress over McGurk’s nomination process, “in support of it as we do on all nominees.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Gary Locke Sworn In as US Ambassador to China

Ethan Miller/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton swore in Gary Locke as the next U.S. ambassador to China on Monday at the U.S. State Department.

Locke pledged to strengthen Sino-American relations and to raise issues of concern when disagreements arise.

“I firmly believe that improved U.S.-China cooperation is critically important, not just for our own two countries, but for the world community,” he said.

“In those sensitive areas where America and China have differences or serious disagreement, I will work to keep the lines of communication open, to convey the administration’s positions clearly, and to engage with Chinese government officials at the highest levels. At the same time I hope to do more to communicate directly with the Chinese people to improve understanding between our two great nations,” Locke said shortly after taking the oath.

Locke previously served as President Obama’s commerce secretary and was nominated to succeed former Republican Utah governor Jon Huntsman, who left the post in Beijing earlier this year to mount his own presidential campaign.

Prior to serving as commerce secretary, Locke was the governor of Washington for eight years and later supported Hillary Clinton’s bid for president.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Ryan Crocker Sworn in as New Ambassador to Afghanistan

U.S. Department of State(WASHINGTON) -- Veteran diplomat Ryan Crocker was sworn in by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as the new U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Thursday. Crocker is expected to arrive in Kabul sometime in the next week where he will have a public initiation ceremony.
With Crocker at her side, Clinton placed a call to the American civilians working in Afghanistan to endorse him as the ambassador and to thank them for their work.
“Her intention going into that was to thank them for all they are doing and to encourage them to continue all the good work that they are engaged in, and to lay hands on Ambassador Crocker and make it clear that he will be their leader and their partner as they go forward,” State Dept spokesperson Victoria Nuland said.
Crocker will oversee a larger civilian corps in Afghanistan, which has nearly quadrupled in size since the civilian surge, and significantly expanded its presence outside of the embassy in Kabul.
His most famous posting was in Iraq, where he teamed up with General Petraeus and was credited for stabilizing the U.S. relationship with the Iraqi government and participating in negotiations on the Status of Forces Agreement.

The Obama administration hopes Crocker will be able to bring that same diplomatic touch to the notoriously volatile relationship with Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
Crocker left Iraq and retired from the Foreign Service in February 2009 to take over as the Dean of Texas A&M’s George Bush School of Government and Public Service.

Petraeus is expected leave the country in July before taking over as CIA Director in September.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


President Obama to Nominate Mike McFaul as Ambassador to Russia

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama will nominate Mike McFaul to be his next Ambassador to Russia, a senior administration official tells ABC News.

McFaul, director of Russian and Eurasian Affairs on the National Security Staff and a special assistant to President Obama, has been one of the key players in the president's attempt to "reset" the at-times rocky US-Russian relationship while also pushing Russia to embrace human rights and to respect the territory of neighboring countries such as Georgia.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Huntsman Returns from China: Will He Challenge Obama?

LIU JIN/AFP/Getty Images(LONDON) -- U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman officially leaves his post Saturday as the country's top diplomat in China -- a move that clears the way for a likely bid to unseat his former boss, President Obama, during the presidential election in 2012.

Huntsman, a Republican, has been coy about his presidential ambitions, saying publicly that he is "loyal to our country and our president."

But friends and colleagues say the former two-term governor of Utah seriously is considering making a run, and already has the fundamentals of a campaign operation in place to prove it.

Huntsman, 51, will make a splash back into national politics Saturday night with his expected attendance at the annual White House Correspondents Association dinner in Washington, D.C.

He also has planned visits next month to early the campaign states of South Carolina and New Hampshire, where supporters have created the nuclei of campaign teams to begin raising funds and lining up supporters and endorsements for Huntsman's political action committee, Horizon PAC.

Huntsman would join a wide-open field of prospective Republican presidential nominees and his youth and unique political stripes could shake up the early race.

Upon entering the race, however, Huntsman would need to overcome virtual obscurity among the national Republican electorate, and ease likely concerns over his ties to President Obama.

In a personal letter to the president, obtained and published by the conservative website Daily Caller earlier this month, Huntsman praised Obama as a "remarkable leader -- and it has been a great honor getting to know you."

Whether Republican primary voters embrace Huntsman or not, Obama believes he could be a formidable candidate.

"I'm sure he will be very successful in whatever endeavors he chooses in the future," the president said when asked about a potential Huntsman candidacy earlier this year.

With a mischievous smile, the president added: "And I'm sure that him having worked so well with me will be a great asset in any Republican primary."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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