Politicians react to the nomination by President Obama of Chuck Hagel as Defense Secretary.
Colin Powell, Former Secretary of State
“I wholeheartedly endorse President Obama’s nomination of former Senator Chuck Hagel to be the next Secretary of Defense.
Chuck Hagel has been a friend and colleague of mine for over twenty years. He is a fellow Infantryman who demonstrated his courage in Vietnam. He served his country as a dedicated official in the Department of Veteran Affairs and as a respected legislator. He was also a successful businessman.
Chuck displays his courage in many ways. You can always count on him to analyze a difficult situation and take a position that reflects his best judgment. I believe that more than ever we need that kind of independent and bold leader who thinks in and out of the box. He is the kind of leader needed by the Department of Defense to deal with the strategic and resource challenges it will be facing over the next several years.
He will be a splendid successor to Secretary Leon Panetta, who has done a superb job in guiding the Pentagon. I urge the Senate to hold prompt hearings and to confirm this distinguished American as soon as possible.”
Jan Scruggs, President and Founder of Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund
“I would have to say Chuck Hagel is the sort of person who you would want in your fox hole.”
“I think it is an outrage to see a patriot like this attacked by these people, to be accused of [being anti-Semitic, which he is not, anti-Israel which he is not,” Scruggs told ABC’s Martha Raddatz Monday. “This is somebody who lives to serve our country. He was willing to give his life for our country. Not everyone is willing to do that.
“This is the guy you want for secretary of defense, and he will be the secretary of defense.”
Charles E. Schumer, U.S. Senator (D-New York)
“Chuck Hagel, as a former colleague and a patriot with a decorated service record, has earned the right to nothing less than a full and fair process in the Senate. I look forward to fully studying his record and exploring his views.”
Joe Manchin, U.S. Senator (D-West Virginia)
“The President – like any elected executive – should have the utmost consideration in putting a staff together, and I intend to do that. I haven’t met or spoken with either Senator Hagel or Mr. Brennan, but both of these men have served our country with honor and distinction. I look forward to talking with them, hearing their views and giving their nominations my full consideration. In particular, I am eager for the Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearings to take place, because I will have the opportunity to ask West Virginians’ commonsense questions about how we can make our country and our world safer.”
Eric Cantor, House Majority Leader (R-Virginia)
“I am profoundly concerned and disappointed by President Obama’s nomination of former Senator Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense. Recent reporting has made clear that Senator 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 relationship the United States shares with our greatest Middle East ally.
“Senator Hagel’s incendiary views of Israel are only the tip of the iceberg. On Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Iran and defense spending, Hagel’s reported views call into question his judgment about the most important matters facing our national security. Taken together, Hagel’s views represent a call for a broad retreat from the preeminent role America has played, and must continue to play, in the world during a period of profound tumult and instability.
“Hagel opted for political expediency in opposing the surge in Iraq, and supported a retreat that would have ceded victory to al Qaeda and Iran. The nomination of a man known primarily for opposing sanctions and military action against Iran strongly suggests that all options are not on the table. Hagel’s nomination telegraphs weakness in the Middle East and defeatism in Afghanistan, where our Afghan partners will surely be concerned, and our Taliban and Iranian adversaries will surely be emboldened.
“There has been widespread and bipartisan opposition to this potential nomination, and the President’s willingness to move forward despite these concerns only reinforces the signal that he agrees with Hagel’s extreme positions. Senator Chuck Hagel is the wrong man for the job at such a pivotal time.”
Rob Portman, U.S. Senator (R-Ohio)
“I am surprised and disappointed President Obama has chosen to move forward with Senator Hagel’s nomination given the significant concerns that both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate have expressed about Senator Hagel’s positions and past votes on issues regarding some of our closest allies and most pressing national security threats. I believe Senator Hagel should get a fair look and an opportunity to defend his record, his past comments, and his current beliefs, but I don’t understand why the Administration is looking to pick yet another political fight instead of working with Congress to solve some of the very real problems we face as a country.”
David Vitter, U.S. Senator (R-Louisiana)
“I’ll be a no vote on the Armed Services Committee and on the floor,” Vitter said. “Given Chuck Hagel’s statements and actions on a nuclear Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah, I think his confirmation would send exactly the wrong message to our allies and enemies alike. Israel, our strongest ally in the region, is dealing with a lot of threat and uncertainty right now; Hagel would make that even worse.”