(CNN) - While President Barack Obama announced former Sen. Chuck Hagel as his pick to replace outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, a number of groups and political figures are responding with a range of reactions, from outright opposition to hesitant backing to full support.
Hagel's nomination on Monday has caused a stir from some on both sides of the aisle, with some of the former Republican senator's statements and positions relating to the gay community and foreign policy coming under the spotlight.
He's been lambasted in particular for his opposition to unilateral sanctions against Iran, as well as for votes opposing labeling Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization.
Among the criticism, Hagel has also taken heat for a 2007 interview that some perceive as anti-Jewish, pointing to a quote in which Hagel said the "Jewish lobby intimidated lawmakers."
The national director of the Anti-Defamation League said Hagel would not have been his "first choice," but he respects the "president's prerogative."
"I trust that the confirmation process will provide an opportunity for Senator Hagel to address concerns about his positions, which seem so out of sync with President Obama's clear commitment on issues like Iran sanctions, isolating Hamas and Hezbollah and the president's strong support for a deepening of U.S. Israel strategic cooperation," Abraham Foxman said in a statement.
He further expressed "hope" that Hagel would elaborate on his comments about the "Jewish Lobby."
The National Jewish Democratic Council gave similar-though cautious-support, saying they expect Hagel to "follow the president's lead" in support for Israel.
"President Barack Obama's unprecedented pro-Israel credentials are unquestionable, and setting policy starts and stops with the President. While we have expressed concerns in the past, we trust that when confirmed, former Senator Chuck Hagel will follow the President's lead of providing unrivaled support for Israel - on strategic cooperation, missile defense programs, and leading the world against Iran's nuclear program."
Some senators hinted that Hagel can expect to get a full grilling in his Senate confirmation hearings. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday on ABC's "This Week" that whoever is nominated will get a "thorough vetting."
And speaking Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union," Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina labeled the former senator a "controversial" choice by Obama and didn't rule out staging a filibuster to prevent a vote on Hagel's nomination.
"Hagel, if confirmed to be secretary of defense, would be the most antagonistic secretary of defense towards the state of Israel in our nation's history," Graham told CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.
Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, credited Hagel with his service in Vietnam and congratulated him on the nomination but went no further in offering support.
"I have serious concerns about positions Senator Hagel has taken on a range of critical national security issues in recent years, which we will fully consider in the course of his confirmation process before the Senate Armed Services Committee," McCaiin said in a statement.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York - who serves alongside McCain on the Armed Services committee - noted both Hagel's merits and her concerns.
"Senator Hagel is a war hero who served our country honorably and was prescient in his questioning of the Iraq war," she said. "But we must look at his entire public service record in its totality in the upcoming confirmation hearings. Considering some of the statements Senator Hagel has made, and votes he has cast, particularly regarding Iran policy, tough questions must and will be asked to clarify his views before these hearings are complete. I look forward to a fair and thorough process."
Meanwhile, some gay rights groups and activists have hit Hagel for his 1998 remarks questioning whether a nominee for an ambassadorship was suitable because he was "openly, aggressively gay." Hagel issued an apology for the remark in December. He's also received vocal opposition for supporting the Pentagon's former "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
On top of a newspaper ad released last month, the Log Cabin Republicans took out a full page Monday in The Washington Post, saying Hagel's apology was "too little, too late."
However, prominent gay rights activist Rick Jacob, who heads the Courage Campaign, gave his full support for Hagel in a Huffington Post op-ed Monday.
"Let's be clear about one thing: no one trying to derail his nomination attacks his qualifications. Instead, they seek to score political points and/or act at the behest of powerful special interests by denying the president his choice as defense chief," Jacobs wrote.
Other political figureheads gave Hagel high praise. They cite his time serving in the Vietnam War, for which he was awarded two Purple Hearts, and his two terms in the Senate.
"To try to make this sound like it's a pick outside of the mainstream is absolutely ridiculous. Chuck Hagel has been widely regarded as one of the smartest people on defense and national security issues," Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut said Monday on CNN's "Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien."
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, a Democrat from Michigan, said Hagel is "well qualified" for the job with his "broad experience in national security affairs."
"He was a decorated soldier and an effective member of the Senate, and he is a strong advocate for the men and women of our military," Levin said in a statement. "The Armed Services Committee will give prompt and careful consideration to Senator Hagel's nomination for this critical position."
Another Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, applauded Hagel and added she will support him in the confirmation process.
"I found him to be a knowledgeable and independent voice with a strong grasp of the pressing national security issues facing our country," said Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said he "wholeheartedly" endorsed Obama's nomination.
"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," Powell said in a statement. "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."
Democratic Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, a former Army Ranger who serves on the Senate Armed Services committee, said Hagel will make an "outstanding" secretary.
"He is highly qualified and his record of service to this country as a decorated combat veteran, successful CEO, senator, and statesman is extraordinary. Chuck is a man of uncommon independence and integrity. Chuck Hagel's candor, judgment, and expertise will serve him well as our next Secretary of Defense," he said in a statement. "I fully support his confirmation."
- CNN's Ashley Killough, Kevin Bohn, Jim Acosta, Adam Levy, Jill Dougherty and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.