(CNN) – While being questioned Thursday by colleagues in his Senate confirmation hearing for secretary of state, Democratic Sen. John Kerry also defended another Cabinet nominee, former Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Republican.
Hagel, President Obama's pick for Defense Secretary, has been criticized by both sides of the aisle for his positions and past statements.
Some conservatives argue the Vietnam veteran is too dovish when it comes to foreign policy. They point to his opposition to unilateral sanctions against Iran and support for nuclear disarmament. Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee said Thursday Hagel's affiliation with an anti-nuclear weapons group called Global Zero is "just concerning."
But Kerry argued Hagel is "realistic," and the Global Zero initiative "is not talking about today's world."
"It's a goal. It's an aspiration. And we should always be aspirational," he said. "But it's not something that could happen in today's world, and nor could any leader today sit here or in any other chair and promote to you the notion that we ought to be cutting down our deterrent level below an adequate level to maintain deterrence."
He said Hagel is "a strong patriotic former senator, and he will be a strong secretary of defense."
While Hagel has seen vocal support from a few other key senators, his nomination will likely be an uphill battle. One conservative group, American Future Fund, has gone as far as taking out television ads targeting Hagel.
The Defense Secretary nominee's hearings are set to begin January 31.
– CNN Wire Staff contributed to this report.
"What difference does it make??" wow – says it all about this administration.
He's more loyal to a fellow Vietnam Vet, a Repub. at that, than the Swift Vote Vets for "Truth". Those "pals" chose the Draft Dodgers Bush/Cheney over a guy who had the guts to volunteer.
freedom, how about weapons of mass destruction? what does that say about your past adminstration? hypocrites
The whole "he's too dovish" argument is pretty stupid when you think about it. The opinion assumes that Hagel would be the one setting policy, not the POTUS. Seeing how George W. Bush always claimed that he "always lets the generals do the generaling" I can see why Republicans would feel that way about Hagel. But, their fears are based upon a false assumption.
Hagel,is a good man,and he is a free thinker. A true republican would be proud if they put america first .conservitives and their tea party pals are draging the GOP down.
""What difference does it make??" wow – says it all about this administration."
"Deficits don't matter" (Cheney)....wow...says it all about the GOP/Teatrolls and their hypocritical all-the-sudden tantrum over it upon the election of a black POTUS.
Have to agree with Kayla. The splice and edit crew at the domestic terrorist network, Fox, are working overtime.
That's what we want in our Sec. of State, someone who goes along with the bunch.
Will this tax cheater/Obamalooney butt kisser be able to defend himself?! By the way, did he ever don his skivvies? and recover his unearned military service medals? What a hypocritical traitor!!!
Did senator Corker serve in the Armed Forces? I believe that general Powell pointed out that there are a lot of armchair generals in the House that also have 'no skin in the game'. How many next of kin of senators and reps in the House actually serve/ have served?
..say... did anyone think to ask him what clinton and susan rice did wrong?