The Note's Must-Reads for Friday, February 1, 2013

The Note's Must-Reads are a round-up of today's political headlines and stories from ABC News and the top U.S. newspapers. Posted Monday through Friday right here at www.abcnews.com

Compiled by ABC News' Amanda VanAllen and Jordan Mazza

CHUCK HAGEL ABC News' Chris Good: " Chuck Hagel, GOP Senators Butt Heads at Defense Secretary Confirmation Hearing" Facing a rocky confirmation process, Chuck Hagel today defended his record before his former Senate colleagues, including an openly impatient Sen. John McCain. "I'm on the record on many issues, but no one individual vote, no one individual quote, no one individual statement defines me," Hagel said in his opening statement at his first confirmation hearing for secretary of defense. LINK

The New York Times' Elisabeth Bumiller: " Hagel Has Rough Outing Before Ex-Colleagues" Chuck Hagel, President Obama's nominee to be secretary of defense, faced sharp and sometimes angry questioning from fellow Republicans - especially his old friend Senator John McCain - at a contentious confirmation hearing on Thursday that focused on his past statements on Iran, the influence of pro-Israel organizations in Washington and the Iraq war. Mr. Hagel, 66, a former senator from Nebraska and a decorated Vietnam veteran who would be the first former enlisted combat soldier to be secretary of defense, often seemed tentative in his responses. LINK

Politico's Josh Gerstein: " Five takeaways from the Chuck Hagel hearing" Senate confirmation hearings are often about the performances. Chuck Hagel delivered a particularly mediocre one. LINK

The Hills' Jeremy Herb: "Hagel delivers shaky performance" Former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) delivered a shaky performance at his confirmation hearing to lead the Pentagon while enduring a difficult day of grilling by his former Republican colleagues. LINK

JOHN KERRY The Boston Globe's Matt Viser: " Globally bound, John Kerry first retraces, recalls roots" He has already become known as "Mr. Secretary," with a diplomatic security team and a motorcade that shuts down highways. But John Forbes Kerry was officially still a United States senator Thursday, on a nostalgia tour through the state he represented in Washington for the better part of three decades. Here was his old desk at the Middlesex district attorney's office. LINK

HILLARY CLINTON The Washington Post's Anne Gearan: " What is Clinton's legacy at State - and her future?" After nearly a million miles of travel to 112 countries, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is closing her term on the familiar home ground of partisan politics and crackling fascination with the ambitions of a woman almost no one thinks is really leaving public life. Friday is Clinton's last day as America's top diplomat, a plum job but still a runner-up to the presidency she sought, unsuccessfully, four years ago. LINK

USA Today's Aamer Madhani: " Clinton touts U.S. leadership in last official speech" As Hillary Rodham Clinton bids farewell to the State Department Friday, she steps down from her post somewhat circumspect about what the future may hold for her - but with a fairly detailed critique of her time in the Obama administration and what the future holds for U.S. diplomacy. LINK

IMMIGRATION REFORM Bloomberg's Lisa Lerer and Kathleen Hunter: " Democrats Press on Immigration as Obama Courts Businesses" Pressing to move quickly to rewrite the nation's immigration laws, Democratic leaders began setting a strategy to advance legislation as the White House worked to rally business support. Returning to a tactic used in last year's fiscal fight, administration officials held a conference call with executives of some of the nation's largest companies to lay out President Barack Obama's proposals and to enlist corporate backing. LINK

The Los Angeles Times' Brian Bennett: " Senate won't rush immigration bill, Harry Reid says" The Democratic-led Senate, in a bid to win support from Republicans, plans a full-fledged debate on immigration reform, a decision that means it could be most of the year before any bill reaches President Obama, who has urged Congress to act in a "timely fashion." LINK

PRESIDENT OBAMA The New York Daily News' Kristen A. Lee: "President Obama takes heat for 'laying off' jobs council" President Obama took some heat from Republicans on Thursday as word emerged that he is disbanding his jobs council even as there are fresh signs the U.S. economy is still struggling. LINK

DEBT The Washington Times' Stephen Dinan: " Congress gets 3½ months to run up debt" Chastened by its last brush with the debt limit, Congress on Thursday approved a waiver allowing the government to run up as much debt as it needs over the next 3½ months - but senators also prodded themselves to finally write a budget for the first time in four years. LINK

ABC NEWS VIDEOS " Chuck Hagel Defends His Record Before Former Senate Colleagues" LINK " White House Press Secretary Downplays End of Jobs Council" LINK

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