Hispanic politics sure can get complicated in South Florida.
To wit: Annette Taddeo-Goldstein, the (Colombian) Democrat who ran -- without the hyphenated last name -- against Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Cuban) in 2008 and again unsuccessfully for Miami-Dade County Commission last year, sent out an e-mail blast Monday night condemning Republican Sen. Marco Rubio (Cuban) for voting to block to nomination of Mari Carmen Aponte (Puerto Rican) to serve as U.S. ambassador to El Salvador.
Senate Republicans, including Rubio, voted against Aponte's confirmation on Monday. They cited questions about an old live-in boyfriend of Aponte's who was a Cuban spy and allegedly tried to recruit her (in a spy-caper twist, there was also a report that the boyfriend was an informant for the U.S.). The FBI cleared Aponte, who later received two top security clearances -- but not before the chatter scuttled her 1993 nomination by President Bill Clinton to serve as ambassador to the Dominican Republic.
Republicans also took issue with a gay rights op-ed Aponte wrote in a Salvadoran newspaper. She is temporarily serving as ambassador in the Central American country, having been named to the post by President Barack Obama during a congressional recess.
Rubio has also opposed the nomination of Roberta Jacobson as assistant U.S. Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, which deals with Cuba. Rubio has warned that he will oppose other Western Hemisphere nominees until the Obama administration changes its policies toward Latin America, which Rubio views as weak and inadequate.
In her e-mail, Taddeo-Goldstein urged folks to call Rubio's office to express disappointment in his vote. She included a link to an op-ed by Sen. Bob Menendez, a Cuban-American Democrat from New Jersey, who had implored his colleagues on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to confirm Aponte.
The Senate's no vote also drew a strong rebuke on Monday from the White House, which accused the GOP of "playing politics with America's national interests."
"Ambassador Aponte has served our nation with distinction over the past year, accumulating an impressive list of accomplishments that included negotiating a Partnership for Growth between the United States and El Salvador that is critical to our economic and national security interests in the region," the White House said.
In a statement, Menendez also emphasized Aponte's background and Puerto Rican roots (key in Florida's swing I-4 corridor, home to most of the state's Puerto Ricans): "Republicans have not only shown that they’re ready and willing to weaken our standing as a nation for the sake of politics, but also that they’ll yield control of the GOP the Tea Party before supporting the Latino community and President Obama’s priorities," he said.
--ERIKA BOLSTAD AND PATRICIA MAZZEI