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McCain: Hagel will be confirmed as defense secretary

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Sen. John McCain, one of the leading opponents of President Obama’s nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel to be the new defense secretary, said Sunday that it’s likely Mr. Hagel will be confirmed, but that he still doesn’t believe he’s qualified for the post.

“He’s a friend of mine,” Mr. McCain, Arizona Republican, said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” saying that “99 percent” of his opposition is related to positions Mr. Hagel has taken on sanctions on Iran and the Iraq War, for example.

The Senate last week failed to amass the 60 votes necessary to end debate on Mr. Hagel’s nomination, with Republican senators saying they wanted more time to pore over information on both Mr. Hagel and the White House’s response to the attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012.

“We will have a vote when we get back, and I’m confident Senator Hagel will probably have the votes necessary to be confirmed as secretary of defense,” Mr. McCain said. “I don’t believe he’s qualified, but I don’t believe we should hold up his nomination any further because I think it’s a reasonable amount of time to have questions answered — not two days’ worth.”

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