02/10/13 - MiamiHerald.com (blog) - Under FBI scrutiny, Sen. Bob Menendez is 'one tough hombre'
Menendez also has strongly supported U.S. sanctions on Cuba, and been singled out as
the key obstacle to the possibility that the Obama administration might try to
improve relations with Havana in the next four years. During the custody battle over
Elián González in 2000, Menendez proposed making him a U.S. citizen. And in 1996 he
pushed the Helms-Burton Act to tighten the U.S. embargo.
"From the day he was elected to Congress, Bob's voice has been consistent and
determined to shed light on the abuse of this totalitarian regime and to do all he
could to have human rights be respected in Cuba," said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the
But he also has defended abortion rights, favored affirmative action and gun
controls, voted against authorizing President Bush to invade Iraq and backed
Hispanics when they were under attack by such figures as Lou Dobbs and Rush Limbaugh.
"One of my goals is to guide all Americans toward a new understanding of Latinos in
this country, to assert once and for all that we are full participants in the dream,
not some recently arrived crowd imposing a foreign culture," he wrote in his 2009
book, Growing American Roots.
He has been chairman of the House Democratic Caucus - the third-highest party job in
the chamber - head of the fundraising Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and
now sits on the bipartisan group of senators negotiating immigration reforms.
But the peak of his career came two Fridays ago when he became chairman of the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee, a powerful and prestigious post previously held by John
Kerry, D-Mass., who was sworn in as secretary of state around that same time.
Menendez's record is not without blemishes, and The New York Times endorsed his
Senate candidacy in 2006, writing that he was the best candidate despite "a history
of ethical lapses that have been all too common for Democratic officials in New
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