Unlike with many of President Obama’s recent nominees, including Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and several other nominations throughout the executive branch, Republicans and conservatives seem to be pausing before going on the attack in the case of Power.
Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), the ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will be key in having Power make it through his committee. When asked for comment, Corker seemed open to the idea of Power taking over at the U.N. “I don’t know Samantha Power personally, but now that the president has nominated her to the U.N., I look forward to meeting her to understand her views and review her record as the Senate considers her nomination for this important foreign policy position,” Corker said in an emailed statement.
One vote that Power has already won over is that of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), another member of the Foreign Relations Committee. McCain in a statement called Power “well-qualified for this important position and hope the Senate will move forward on her nomination as soon as possible.” McCain had previously led a smear campaign against Ambassador Rice after news that Obama might nominate her as the next Secretary of State. Obama also announced today that Rice will come to the White House to be the next national security adviser, a position that does not require Senate confirmation.
Neoconservative pundit Max Boot, liberal groups like the United Nations Foundation, and the Anti-Defamation League have also offered support for Power’s nomination. This could prove key in an institution where dozens of Obama nominees languish for lack of a vote, including several key sub-Cabinet posts.
Other conservatives and members of the Republican Party are, if not as vocal, keeping quiet on Power so far. Sen. James Risch (R-ID) had no comment on the nomination, according to his office. None of the four other Republicans on the committee ThinkProgress reached out to — including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) — responded to a request for comment on Power’s nomination. Even the office of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who has been outspoken against both the interventionist policies Power has often promoted and the United Nations in general, did not put out an immediate statement on Power’s nomination. Likewise, Senate Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell’s office declined to make any sort of statement until Power reaches committee.
In introducing Power in the Rose Garden on Wednesday, President Obama called her a “relentless advocate for American interest and values.” Obama also highlighted Power’s role as the lead White House staffer on issues related to the U.N. in her previous role as the National Security Staff’s senior director for multilateral affairs. “She knows the U.N.’s strengths,” Obama said, “She knows its weaknesses. She knows American interests are advanced when we can rally the world to our side. And she knows that we have to stand up for the things that we believe in.”
Secretary of State John Kerry, who will be Power’s boss once she is at Turtle Bay, praised Power’s nomination in a statement, and singled out their shared affinity of the Boston Red Sox. Once Rice moves to the White House, and until Power is confirmed and in place, Deputy Permanent Representative Amb. Rosemary DiCarlo will serve as acting Permanent Representative, including most likely presiding over the U.N. Security Council when the U.S. takes over the rotating presidency in July.