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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Obama administration targeting 'persuadable' LeMieux on arms treaty



The Obama administration has begun an aggressive push to pass the START arms treaty with Russia and is targeting a number of "persuadable" GOP senators. Among them is Florida Sen. George LeMieux.

"We think he's open to supporting the treaty," Brian McKeon, deputy national security adviser to the vice president, said during a meeting with reporters today at the White House.

Vice President Joe Biden is urging the Senate to approve the deal in the lame duck session rather than wait until the new year. "America has always led the effort to reduce nuclear dangers for ourselves and for our allies," he said.

"Failure to adopt the new START would be an abdication, in my view, of American leadership and, I would argue, would materially damage our ability to address major security challenges, including key efforts to prevent nuclear terrorist, lock up dangerous nuclear materials and discourage additional states from pursuing their own nuclear capabilities."

We have reached out to LeMieux for comment.

If the Senate balks for now, the issue will fall to incoming Sen. Marco Rubio. He expressed skepticism earlier this year, saying in a column for National Review: "An agreement with Russia that could constrain the ability of the United States to develop, build, and field nuclear weapons and their means of delivery has profound implications for not only American security, but the security of nations who depend on us for security against other nations who threaten them with nuclear weapons. ... As a member of the U.S. Senate, I will review the president’s treaty proposal with scrupulous care."

Background on the treaty here.

[Last modified: Friday, December 3, 2010 3:47pm]


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