GOP Critics Planning to Challenge Hagel Nomination for Defense

Tuesday, 18 Dec 2012 11:29 PM

By Todd Beamon

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Many Capitol Hill Republicans are gearing up to challenge one of their own — former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska — as President Barack Obama’s likely nominee for Defense Secretary.

“We had some disagreements; obviously those will be examined, for example, when he said the [Iraq] surge could not succeed, and obviously he was wrong there,” Arizona Sen. John McCain, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, told Politico. “We obviously want to review his whole record and go through the regular process.”

Since Hagel’s name surfaced last week as a possible successor to Leon Panetta, many former GOP colleagues have noted the moderate Republican’s role as one of President George W. Bush’s most visible challengers over Iraq, his opposition to sanctions against Iran and other countries, and his comments about Hamas, Hezbollah, and North Korea.

On Tuesday, the Anti-Defamation League was among those who attacked Hagel’s record on Israel — particularly remarks from years ago when he labeled pro-Israel groups in Washington the “Jewish lobby.”

McCain denied that Hagel would be a Republican amid a cabinet of Democrats, Politico reports. To “allege that Hagel is somehow a Republican — that is a hard one to swallow,” he said.

Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe, expected to become the ranking GOP member of the Armed Services Committee in January, told Politico that he was “not real happy” with some of Hagel’s past statements on Israel.

He also described Hagel as “curt” in some of their earlier dealings, Politico reports.

“A lot of times, these hearings are sort of for show, but I think this one will really matter,” South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who also is on the committee, told Politico. “I think he’s just going to have to explain some of these comments that disturb people.”

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