ROME — Peter Secchia, dubbed the "ambassador of dirty words" by the Italian press, arrived in Rome today to take up the U.S. ambassador's post, and he defended his ability to handle it.
"La famiglia," (the family), Secchia said in Italian, gesturing to his wife, two sons and one of his two daughters.
Secchia, a Michigan businessman and a leading Bush backer in the 1988 presidential campaign, is the grandson of Italian immigrants. He was asked if he was confident he can successfully be the chief U.S. diplomat in Italy with the negative coverage of his nomination in the Italian press.
Among the widely reported incidents was one in which Secchia reportedly called a female delegate to the 1988 Republican National Convention a "bitch" in front of other party members. He has repeatedly said he was misquoted.
"I'm very confident I can carry out the role my President has given me. I've done it before," Secchia said.
He said of reports about him in the Italian press, "I'm a pretty strong person. I can handle that," adding, "I'm very proud of my accomplishments."