Norway demands apology for ambassador nominee's remarks

A party in Norway's governing coalition is demanding President Obama apologize, after his nominee to be ambassador offended them during his nomination hearing.

George Tsunis, the CEO of Chartwell Hotels and a major Obama campaign donor, called members of the Progress Party “fringe elements” who “spew out hatred” during his rocky confirmation hearing last week. Tsunis was apparently unaware the Progress Party was part of the ruling government, when Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) pressed him on his views about what McCain called an “anti-immigration” party.

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“I think this is unacceptable and a provocation," party spokesman Jan Arild Ellingsen told Norway's TV2 television channel, according to the English-language website The Local. “I expect the U.S. president to apologize to both Norway and the Progress Party.”

Tsunis's remarks have caused an uproar in Norway over the nominee's lack of preparation — he also inaccurately referred to the Scandinavian kingdom's “president” — and raised new concerns about the practice by presidents of both parties to reward rich donors with ambassadorships.

“I have no more questions for this incredibly highly qualified group of nominees,” McCain said after his turn was up. A vote on Tsunis's ambassadorship has not yet been scheduled.

The White House defended Obama's choice on Friday.

"I can tell you that this president has confidence in all of the nominees he's put forward for ambassadorial positions as well as other positions in the administration, in the government,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said.

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