Florida Sen. Marco Rubio voted Thursday to confirm Mari Carmen Aponte as… (Andy Lavalley/ Associated…)
Nearly six months after it seemed that Mari Carmen Aponte’s nomination to serve as the U.S. ambassador to El Salvador was doomed, the Puerto Rican attorney was confirmed by the Senate.
It’s an interesting turn of events given that some of the same GOP senators who just months ago opposed her nomination voted Thursday to support her. Among those who switched from no to yes is Sen. Marco Rubio. The Cuban American from Florida is considered a rising star in the GOP. And even though he is a freshman in Congress, his name has been mentioned as a possible running mate for Mitt Romney.
Rubio is now suggesting that Democrats are to blame for the delay in her confirmation. That’s right. The problem isn’t that Republicans voted against her because of an old boyfriend who some allege was a Cuban spy. Rather, the issue is that Democrats didn’t give Republicans another chance to reconsider that vote until yesterday. In a statement released by Rubio's office, he argues that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), intentionally stalled the vote, opting instead to use “her nomination to help the White House play divisive ethnic politics,” by pitting Cuban Americans against Puerto Ricans in Florida.
It’s an interesting explanation but it's one that another prominent Cuban American lawmaker isn’t buying. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) blamed the GOP for holding up Aponte' nomination for nearly two years. Perhaps, Reid was also trying to pit Cuban American lawmakers against each other?
A better explanation for the sudden show of bipartisan support is election year politics. Democrats and Republicans both hope to woo Puerto Rican voters in Florida and score a victory in a key swing state. Clearly, Puerto Ricans aren't going to decide who to vote for based simply on whether a candidate opposed Aponte's nomination but it doesn't help to have nearly derailed her nomination.
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