Thursday, September 22, 2011

Norm Coleman and Latin America

Mitt Romney has hired former Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman to act as his foreign policy adviser, with a specific focus on the Middle East and Latin America.  After his infamous race with Al Franken, in April of this year Coleman joined a law firm to act as a lobbyist for businesses in Latin America and elsewhere.

Coleman has shown a lot of interest in Latin America, including on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations plus quite a bit of travel, and has been pretty moderate, even meeting with Hugo Chávez in 2005 and calling for an end to the embargo after a trip to Cuba.

He is in favor of free trade agreements (though wanted protection for Minnesota sugar beets), sees (or at least saw) Brazil as a model for Minnesota sugar beet ethanol, and was one of the senators who helped investigate Augusto Pinochet's illegal bank accounts.

Of course, neither the primary nor general elections will have anything to do with Latin America. Immigration, however, is more important.  He has has been part of efforts to reach out to Latino voters, so it will be interesting to see what type of rhetoric Romney uses as the campaign progresses. His record on immigration policy is mixed, though quite moderate for the Republican Party, as he has voted yes both on the DREAM Act and on more border fence.

The upshot: for Latin America he will hopefully push Romney to keep the rhetoric reasonable and counter the crazier claims that will certainly pop up during the campaign.


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