GOP Blasted for Touting Deddeh as Ambassador

Times Staff Writer

Senate Democratic leader David A. Roberti criticized California Republican leaders Friday for “transparent political opportunism” in pushing Sen. Wadie P. Deddeh of Chula Vista for a Middle East ambassadorship.

“Ambassadorships, especially in the Middle East, have to be made on the sensitivities of national policies that far exceed the concerns of whether you are going to pick up a state Senate seat in California or not,” Roberti said at a state Capitol press conference.

Since last summer, Republicans leaders including state GOP Chairman Clair Burgener, Senate Republican Caucus Chairman John Seymour (R-Anaheim) and Senate Minority Leader James W. Nielsen (R-Rohnert Park) have been saying that an ambassadorial appointment for Deddeh would give them a golden opportunity to win the Senate seat he has held for four years.

Republican strategists feel they would have an especially good chance of winning during an off-year special election, when Republicans traditionally fare better than Democrats. Roberti said Friday that the GOP leaders, who have recommended Deddeh to President Reagan, have essentially reduced an extremely important diplomatic assignment to “a political ploy.”


“It really causes people to wonder about the motivations and the nature of their government,” Roberti said.

“I certainly believe Sen. Deddeh would qualify . . . I’m not saying that Sen. Deddeh doesn’t have all the diplomatic politesse to serve his nation well,” Roberti said.

But the Middle East is “the most sensitive area in the world,” Roberti said, and ambassadorial appointments should not be based on politics.

“We are not talking about Switzerland,” he said.


Roberti’s comments came during a press conference he called to declare that Senate Democrats would keep him as Senate president pro tem, a post he has held since 1980, despite his party’s loss of two seats in elections Tuesday. Roberti has said previously that he would prefer that Deddeh, a close political ally, remain a part of his leadership team in the state Senate.

But Friday’s comments were his most extensive to date regarding a potential Middle East diplomatic post for Deddeh, and it was the first time he has criticized Republican leaders so harshly for pushing the Chula Vista Democrat for the post.

Deddeh, who met with White House officials regarding a potential appointment last summer, said recently that he assumes he is no longer under consideration.