Friction between Rubio and Mack?

Al Kamen
Columnist April 25, 2012

Despite the balmy weather in Colombia last month during the Summit of the Americas (yes, the one with the Secret Service johns), there was a brief frost in the air among the members of Congress attending the confab.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) touched off the moment of discord, when his meeting with Chilean President Sebastian Pinera went longer than scheduled. Rubio appeared plenty pleased with the tete-a-tete, dispatching a news release announcing the fact that he had hand-delivered a letter from the Cuban dissident group Ladies in White criticizing the Fidel Castro regime’s human rights record.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993. View Archive

Look, he’s meeting with world leaders! How very vice presidential of him, no?

But Rubio’s longer-than-expected meeting apparently didn’t sit well with a fellow Florida Republican, Rep. Connie Mack , who was leading the bipartisan delegation of House members. The lawmakers were told their meeting had been pushed back 15 minutes to allow Rubio to finish up with Pinera.

Rather than have his colleagues cool their heels while Rubio finished up his chat, we hear that Mack simply pulled the plug on the scheduled meeting.

We weren’t aware of any bad blood previously between the two Sunshine State lawmakers, who could be Senate colleagues if Mack is successful in his bid to unseat Democrat Bill Nelson. Mack even tweeted a picture of the two men arm in arm, grinning, from the summit.

A Mack spokeswoman chalked up the canceled meeting to “significant demands on everyone’s schedules” and said her boss hoped to get another chance to talk to the Chilean leader.

“Though they were not able to meet at the summit, the commitment to our nations’ shared interests of freedom and prosperity in our hemisphere did not start with the summit, and it certainly didn’t end there,” the spokeswoman said in a statement. “Chairman Mack truly looks forward to the opportunity to meet with President Pinera in the future.”

Be . . . why you?

All the many vice-presidential possibilities — from recent poll leader Condoleezza Rice on down — have demurred, exclaiming their complete devotion to the good citizens of Pierre, S.D., or Massillon, Ohio, or wherever.

But the “possibles” and their moves are being closely watched. So it was quite an eyebrow-raiser at a Marriott hotel in Washington when Rice showed up April 14 to speak at the Brigham Young University Management Society’s 28th annual gala dinner.

The 6,000-member society has chapters in 40 cities. The D.C. chapter is the largest in the country.

Usually the dinner speaker is someone from BYU or a prominent businessman.

This year, Rice did the honors, talking about foreign policy, freedom, American exceptionalism and philanthropy, praising the philanthropic “tradition of your wonderful church,” according to an account by Forbes.com.

The event was attended by 600 to 700 people, our source said, including most “every prominent Mormon in D.C.”

Of course, Rice does a lot of speaking to various groups each year. And she’s also set up an international consulting firm with Stephen Hadley, national security adviser under George W. Bush, and Bob Gates, defense secretary under Bush and President Obama.

Still, our source said, “readers of spy novels know there’s no such thing as coincidence.”

Speaking of vice-presidential possibilities, don’t forget to enter the Loop “Pick the Veep” contest. Simply guess Romney’s choice — and the date that choice will be announced.

You can leave a comment on the blog (make sure there’s an active e-mail address associated with your washingtonpost.com log-in) or e-mail us at intheloop@washpost.com (make sure you include a phone number where we can contact you).

The top 10 winners will receive a coveted In the Loop T-shirt and the usual bragging rights. (If you need to enter “on background,” that’s fine.)

Don’t delay! The deadline for entries is Monday, April 30. Ties will be broken by date of entry.

Less loopiness

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda hasn’t even arrived in Washington for his visit next week with President Obama and things are already getting shaky.

A planned announcement of an agreement on moving U.S. forces out of Okinawa and relocating a Marine air base may not be happening.

Three key Senate Armed Services Committee members said that they had concerns and that any agreement would need Senate approval. The State Department says it’s working with Capitol Hill on this.

Obama and Noda have met twice before, once in New York and again in Hawaii, and appear to have a decent relationship.

Noda’s visit is the first by a Japanese prime minister since the spectacular (for Loop Fans, anyway) visit of Yukio Hatoyama during a 36-nation nuclear summit two years ago this month.

We wrote that he was “the biggest loser,” getting only 10 minutes with Obama, because he was “hapless and (in the opinion of some Obama administration officials) increasingly loopy.”

The Japanese media went into overdrive, we noted. Hatoyama, who agreed he may have been “loopy,” resigned June 2 amidst a faltering economy.

We trust Noda’s visit will be more “fruitful and productive,” as the diplos like to say.

With Emily Heil

The blog: washingtonpost.com/
intheloop. Twitter: @InTheLoopWP.

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