Trump Ally’s Quest to Head Latin American Aid Bank Divides Region

But Mr. Claver-Carone dismissed the opposition in Latin America as “a handful of countries that for whatever reason — because their own candidates haven’t been able to get off the ground — are looking for ways to hijack the election.”

And he has important backers in Congress: Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, and Senator Robert Menéndez, Democrat of New Jersey, have both endorsed him.

Noting that he has “not always agreed” with Mr. Claver-Carone, Senator Menéndez commended his “consistent commitment to advancing U.S. national security, our foreign policy interests, and an agenda of shared priorities with our partners in the hemisphere.”

Mr. Claver-Carone decided to seek the job after the current president, Mr. Moreno, rejected his bid to become executive vice president earlier this year, according to four people familiar with the discussions.

The idea to run for the top job, Mr. Claver-Carone said, came from two presidents in the region who had called to ask him if he had considered seeking the top job. (He declined to name the presidents, saying only that one was from South America and the other from Central America.)

“We started calling our partners and allies in the region saying, hey, what do you think, is this feasible?” Mr. Claver-Carone said. There was, he said “a big sense of relief” at the idea that he would helm the institution, partly because it showed the U.S. cared about the bank.

Right before announcing his candidacy, Mr. Claver-Carone called Brazilian officials and asked them not to put forward their own candidate, Rodrigo Xavier, a former Bank of America executive, and to back Mr. Claver-Carone instead, according to three people familiar with the matter. He said he would give a Brazilian the coveted No. 2 job if he won, the people said.

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