November 14, 2001 - Hartford Courant: Senator Dodd on Gaddi Vasquez - "I'm probably going to support him, but he's a weak nominee."

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: Peace Corps Headlines - 2001: 11 November 2001 Peace Corps Headlines: November 14, 2001 - Hartford Courant: Senator Dodd on Gaddi Vasquez - "I'm probably going to support him, but he's a weak nominee."

By Admin1 (admin) on Wednesday, November 21, 2001 - 10:38 am: Edit Post

Read the story from the Hartford Courant on Senator Dodd's plans to vote for Gaddi Vasquez at:

Vasquez Likely, But Reich Is Not

White House's Nominations Facing Mixed Outcomes Vasquez Likely, But Reich Is Not

November 14, 2001 By DAVID LIGHTMAN, Washington Bureau Chief

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Christopher J. Dodd said flatly Tuesday that conservative nominee Otto Reich will not be confirmed to head the State Department's Latin American section.

"That nomination's not going anywhere. That's the end of it," said Dodd, D-Conn., who as chairman of the Senate's western hemisphere subcommittee has life-and-death power over such matters.

Another controversial nomination, though, apparently will proceed. The panel is scheduled to hold a confirmation hearing today on the White House choice of Gaddi H. Vasquez to head the Peace Corps, a choice opposed by many former corps volunteers.

They are particularly disappointed that Dodd, who served in the Peace Corps in the 1960s, is not opposing the former Orange County, Calif., supervisor.

Vasquez's fitness is being questioned for several reasons, including his presence on the Orange County board during the county's well-publicized financial problems. The county filed for bankruptcy in December 1994. Vasquez was named board chairman a month later.

Dodd was not enthusiastic about the nominee, who has no Peace Corps experience, but said Tuesday, "I'm probably going to support him, but he's a weak nominee."

Dodd said he had no solid reason to oppose him, and the choice is popular in the Hispanic community.

"There's nothing here that disqualifies him," said Dodd of Vasquez. "There's no specific job description for this position." He is also encouraged by the nomination of former Peace Corps volunteer Jody Olsen to be Vasquez's deputy.

Reich, though, is quite another matter. His resume is a virtual history of the new conservative movement. He was active in the 1980s in the efforts to fight the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, as head of the Office of Public Diplomacy and in the drug wars during a stint as ambassador to Venezuela.

Dodd maintained Tuesday that "the record is there; he's not well suited to the position." Reich backers strongly disagreed.

"I would hope that the administration would take this for what it is, which is an unwarranted vendetta against a fine man," said Dennis Hays, who heads the Washington office of the pro-Reich Cuban American National Foundation.

Most damaging was probably the tepid support Reich got from many fellow Republicans last month, a message that was obvious to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.

At a Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting last month, supporter Jesse Helms, R-N.C., asked for a straw poll on Reich. As Powell watched, three Republicans would not raise their hands in support. Helms then asked Powell if he had counted the votes.

Powell, according to a staff member who was there, laughed and said, "It would be wise not to."

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