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Senate confirms Cindy McCain, former GOP Sen. Jeff Flake to top diplomatic posts

The Senate also confirmed Victoria Reggie Kennedy, the widow of Sen. Ted Kennedy, and former Sen. Tom Udall as ambassadors.
Former Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., nominee to be ambassador to Turkey, and his wife Cheryl, are seen in the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 19, 2021.
Former Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., the nominee to be ambassador to Turkey, and his wife, Cheryl, in the U.S. Capitol on Oct. 19.Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call Inc. via Getty Images

WASHINGTON — The Senate confirmed two Republicans nominated by President Joe Biden to top diplomatic posts Tuesday.

Former Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake was confirmed as U.S. ambassador to Turkey, and Cindy McCain, the widow of GOP Sen. John McCain of Arizona, will be the country's representative at the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture.

Both Arizona Republicans endorsed Biden during the 2020 presidential election. They were confirmed Tuesday by voice vote.

Flake and John McCain, who died in August 2018, were frequent targets of former President Donald Trump when he was in office.

Flake announced in October 2017 that he would not seek re-election, expressing dismay with Trump and the direction of the Republican Party. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, then a House member, won Flake's Senate seat the following year, flipping it to the Democrats.

In 2020, Flake and Cindy McCain were key Biden surrogates who sought to broaden the Democratic nominee's appeal to voters, particularly among Republicans. Biden later won Arizona, which had not voted for a Democrat since 1996.

Sen. Mark Kelly, D-Ariz., escorts Cindy McCain into the Capitol as his guest for his maiden speech on the Senate floor on Aug. 4.Bill Clark / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images file

Flake wrote in a Medium post in July that Biden's decision to nominate him "reaffirms the best tradition of American foreign policy and diplomacy: the credo that partisan politics should stop at the water's edge."

"U.S. foreign policy can and should be bipartisan," he added. "That is my belief as well, and my commitment."

The Senate on Tuesday also confirmed Victoria Reggie Kennedy, the widow of the Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, to be U.S. ambassador to Austria, while former Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., was confirmed as ambassador to New Zealand.