Chuck Hagel John McCain Spar

Chuck Hagel Grilled By Senator McCain During Tense Confirmation Hearing

Chuck Hagel and Senator John McCain sparred during Hagel’s confirmation hearing on Thursday, highlighting tensions between the two ex-friends.

McCain repeatedly interrupted Hagel during the hearing, accusing him of refusing to answer any direct questions.

The two men were friends and colleagues. Thirteen years ago when McCain ran for president, he stated that Hagel would be a man he wanted to run his Defense Department, according to CNN.

But the 2007 troop surge in Iraq tore them apart. Hagel was against the surge, while McCain fully supported it. The former Nebraska senator called the Bush administration’s surge proposal “the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam.”

And McCain sought on Thursday to know whether his former friend still agreed with that assertion. He pushed Hagel, saying:

“The Committee deserves your judgement as to whether you were right or wrong about the surge. Are you going to answer the question, Senator Hagel? The question is were you right or wrong. That’s a pretty straightforward question.”

ABC News notes that Hagel did not directly answer the question. Instead, he chose to say during the start of the hearing:

“I’m on the record on many issues, but no one individual vote, no one individual quote, no one individual statement defines me.”

Along with being grilled by Senator McCain, Chuck Hagel also underwent tough questioning by Senator Lindsey Graham, an ally of McCain’s. Yet another Republican Senator, Ted Cruz of Texas, suggested that Hagel’s record “demonstrates a greater antagonism for the state of Israel than any member of this body.”

Following his first confirmation hearing, several Republican senators have claimed they will oppose Chuck Hagel’s nomination.

[Image via English: Glenn Fawcett [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]