While Republicans have stepped up their criticism of Chuck Hagel ahead of his hearings to become the next Secretary of Defense, Hagel has his defenders stepping up to the plate also. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell went on NBC’s Meet The Press to lend his support to the former Senator.
Hagel has been on the phone non-stop since his nomination last week calling Senators and has been trying to line up support for his cause. He wanted to clear the air about his stance on Israel and Iran. Conservatives have been coming out in droves to criticize Hagel for refusing to sign a letter urging the EU to classify Hezbollah as a terrorist group, for complaining about a “Jewish Lobby,” and for his pacifist attitude towards Iran’s nuclear program. Liberals have also been coming out against Hagel for anti-gay comments he made back in the 90s.
Powell told Meet The Press:
“He knows what war is and he will fight a war if it’s necessary, but he is a guy who will do it with great deliberation and care.”
Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte told Fox News Sunday:
“I also wonder what message are we sending to Iran, what message are we sending to Israel and I am perplexed that the president has nominated him.”
Republican Senator Bob Corker went on the attack over Hagel’s temperament while speaking on ABC’s This Week, saying:
“But I think another thing that’s going to come up is just his overall temperament, and is he suited to run a department or a big agency or a big entity like the Pentagon. There are numbers of staffers who are coming forth now just talking about the way he has dealt with them.”
Hagel has been nominated to replace outgoing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta for President Obama’s second term. Of all the nominations the President has put forward, Hagel is considered the most controversial.