As soon as the nomination was official, a handful of conservative lawmakers reiterated their ardent opposition.
“Recent reporting has made clear that Sen. Hagel’s views and inflammatory statements about Israel are well outside the mainstream and raise well-founded doubts that he can be trusted to manage the special relationships the United States shares with our greatest Middle East ally,” said Mr. Cantor, who is Jewish.
The House gets no vote on the nomination, however.
Several senior Republican members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, which will hold the confirmation hearing, already have signaled that they will oppose Mr. Hagel’s nomination, including Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn of Texas and Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi.
Mr. Wicker said Monday that his former colleague’s nomination is “divisive and distracting for Congress, the administration, and the American people.”
Freshmen Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who was elected with strong backing from the tea party, told “Fox News Sunday” that it was “very difficult to imagine a circumstance in which I could support [Hagel‘s] confirmation.”
Sen. John McCain of Arizona who serves as the panel’s ranking Republican, considered Mr. Hagel a longtime friend while the two served in the Senate. But Mr. Hagel did not endorse Mr. McCain for president in 2008 and instead backed Mr. Obama. The two have diverged on foreign-policy issues, including the Iraq surge Mr. McCain supported.
After Mr. Hagel’s nomination Monday, Mr. McCain did not say he would oppose him, but instead issued a statement expressing “serious concerns about positions [Hagel] has taken on a range of critical national security issues in recent years.”
Democrats have questions
Mr. Hagel has taken fire from the left as well, for saying in 1998 that a Clinton administration nominee for an ambassadorship was “openly, aggressively gay.” He has apologized for those comments.
The White House has defended Mr. Hagel’s record and said his positions on Israel have been mischaracterized. After serving with him in the Senate and watching him vote for millions of dollars in assistance to Israel and support a series of sanctions on Tehran, the president respects Mr. Hagel and thinks his actions will be completely in line with the administration’s, the president’s aides say.
While nominating him Monday, Mr. Obama noted that Mr. Hagel would be the first defense secretary who had served as an enlisted man, as well as the first who had served in Vietnam, where he earned two purple hearts.
“He understands that sending young Americans to fight and bleed in the dirt and mud, that’s something we only do when it’s absolutely necessary,” the president said.
“As I saw during our visits together to Afghanistan and Iraq, the troops see a decorated combat veteran of character and strength,” Mr. Obama added. “They see one of their own.”View Entire Story
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
Dave Boyer is a White House correspondent for The Washington Times. A native of Allentown, Pa., Boyer worked for the Philadelphia Inquirer from 2002 to 2011 and also has covered Congress for the Times. He is a graduate of Penn State University. Boyer can be reached at email@example.com.
Susan Crabtree is an award-winning investigative reporter with more than 15 years of reporting experience in Washington, D.C. Her reporting about bribery, corruption and conflict-of-interest issues on Capitol Hill has led to several FBI and ethics investigations, as well as consequences for members within their caucuses and at the ballot box. Susan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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