January 30th, 2013
05:31 PM ET
1 year ago

Biden defends new foreign policy team in interview with CNN

Washington (CNN) – With controversial Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel set to face harsh questioning in his confirmation hearing Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden is defending the administration's new foreign policy team against GOP charges that it will be too reluctant to use force–as will the president.

"Where have they (the critics) been for four years?" responded Biden in a recent exclusive interview with CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger. "The real President Obama has exercised force responsibly as boldly and as bravely as any president in American history. This is the guy who's not backed away. And he's also ended wars that almost every military man out there will tell you we should not be engaged in again."

In the CNN interview, the vice president also defended Hagel and Secretary of State Designate John Kerry. "To suggest that two war heroes, one with a Bronze Star…a Purple Heart, Silver Star, taking over both the…State Department and Defense, is a dove or whatever the phrase was, is ridiculous."

Biden is close to both men and has tried to pave the way to confirmation among his former Senate colleagues for the Hagel pick.

Even before the president formally nominated Hagel on January 7, the vice president was speaking to his former senate colleagues on Hagel's behalf. Hagel's record-including a vote against unilateral sanctions against Iran-poses problems on both sides of the aisle.

At this point, the battle over Hagel has morphed into a virtual political campaign.

OPINION: A reality check for Chuck Hagel bashers

Administration officials have been helping to mount an aggressive campaign to rebut the critics. Former cabinet secretaries have written letters in support, and a collection of former senior national security officials known as the Bipartisan Group hired the influential lobbying company the Podesta Group to help get its message out, a source familiar with the initiative told CNN. A spokesman for Podesta refused comment.

Hagel himself has met with more than 60 senators to lobby on his behalf and to answer criticisms, according to two sources familiar with the meetings. He also recently met with leading American-Jewish activists to reassure them he is a strong supporter of Israel.

READ MORE: Is this a 'strategy'? Why some conservatives are still going after Hagel

The former senator also did damage control apologizing for some derogatory comments he made in 1998 regarding an openly gay nominee for ambassador. Administration officials reached out to the gay and lesbian community to reassure them.

Critics though have not let up. There are several conservative groups that have run ads against Hagel's nomination, including Americans for a Strong Defense and American Future Fund. AFF has bought more than $500,000 in ads, one of which ran on CNN and Fox News questioning some of his ethics – a charge denied by Hagel aides. A pro-Israel group also went on the airwaves raising questions about his commitment to the Jewish state. The influential Republican Jewish Coalition has marshaled its board members and supporters to lobby senators to vote against Hagel. Among those making those phone calls is influential Republican billionaire and donor Sheldon Adelson. One source familiar with the matter said Adelson is "calling everybody he can."

– CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr and Senior Producer Mike Mount contributed to this story.


Filed under: Chuck Hagel • Department of Defense • Joe Biden
soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. Brian

    Retire, already, Joe. Ugh.

    January 30, 2013 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  2. Larry L

    Republicans might prefer an administration likely to start two unfunded wars – one of them with cherry-picked intelligence data. I'm sure they'd choose an imature cowboy-type President who'd send our Soldiers to a war with no exit strategy – them declare "mission accomplished" after the initial offensive phase. I'll bet they'd like a Defense Secretary and Vice President who'd focus on sweetheart deals to corrupt defense contractors – firms they'd invested in heavily and even served on the Board. They'd especially prefer a team who'd never actually catch any of the bad guys who caused 9/11. Say... didn't they have that team for 8 years?

    January 30, 2013 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  3. Mary

    Let's face it. Some Republicans would march into Hell in order to oppose anything the President or Democratics are for.

    January 30, 2013 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  4. plain&simple

    Chuck Hagel is the right person for the job!

    January 30, 2013 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  5. Mike

    Love it. We don't need leaders that put the interest of other countries ahead of our own. Israel should fight for its own interests. We should support them when it supports our interests.

    January 30, 2013 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  6. mk1

    It is the neocons and the GOP that scare the you know what out of me and their all too eagerness to get us into wars and to use force where it is not necessary. The cost to our country in money and treasure from these adventures is astronomical. The other thing that really frosts me is that most of these go to war people have never been in the service themselves nor do they have family serving today. To them it is all about how tough they are while it is other people who serve and shed blood. I am a vet with a son currently serving and as I said, the GOP really scares me.

    January 30, 2013 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  7. Bill in Florida

    Conservatives are against an Obama appointee? Shocking!

    January 30, 2013 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  8. Bill

    Well the same group that went after Obama's reelection and spend millions dollars now are after Hagel. Obama got reelected and Hagel will get approved because he has the support of the general public. You can buy some politicians but you cant buy them all.

    January 30, 2013 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    You better get use to him. If Hillary doesnt run in 2016 Uncle Joe will be POTUS, book it.

    January 30, 2013 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  10. David Iganov

    Brian, why don't you take your neoconservative mindset to another country. After the disaster in Iraq, no one in America likes you morons anymore.

    January 30, 2013 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  11. Bob

    Go get'em Joe! Let the repukes kow who's boss.

    January 30, 2013 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  12. Bubba

    The GOP is wrong about Hagel, because, they are just so darned good at being WRONG. They can't help it. The GOP are basically Idiot Savants, WITHOUT the Savant component.
    This is because Republicans hate everything not American, and Savant is French.
    When Common Sense becomes an American trait again, the GOP will be OK, until then, they will continue to be a Righteous Train Wreck.

    January 30, 2013 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  13. Rick McDaniel

    The question is, whether they will back an ally, or not, and the indicators are, that Hagel will not.

    January 30, 2013 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  14. rs

    Any Republican objection to Hagel (one of their own after all), is simply obstructionism. The Luddite Republicans either should get with the program or just go away. Americans are tired of their anti-government anti-progress nonsense.

    January 30, 2013 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  15. uncdig

    Time for Biden to step up and do his comedy routine to distract from a bad appointee

    January 30, 2013 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  16. Corey

    This whole story cracks me up. GOP, this is how far out of whack your party is. I just seen a commercial (in Alaska) that says Hagel is the wrong choice. You have to see the irony in this. You have a Democrat president nominating a Republican and they are telling us to tell our representatives who in this case are a Republican senator and congressman along with our lone Democrat senator to not choose a Republican. I have a funny thought that if a Republican had nominated Hagel he would have none to little push back from his OWN party. Just another example of no matter what our president does he will get a no from the GOP. I think people on both sides that are so polarized could learn something from that show "Dual Survival". It has a hippie type (left) and a special force type (right) and they get thrown into all kinds of hostile environments around the world. They both have different views how certain things should be done and like us have the same goal. Therefor they must work together to survive. They don't hold the view it's my way or the highway mentality. They compromise and get the job done.

    January 30, 2013 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  17. Tony Antin

    It's a sad and ironic comment upon conservative groups when they object to a man because they think he will not be quick to send American man and women into war. It would be much more civilized to want someone who would be reluctant to do so.

    January 30, 2013 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  18. The Elephant in the Room

    Democrats need to internalize a business / budget mindset for EVERY action proposed by Republicans.

    When McCain / Graham advocate for a war or military action in Syria or North Korea or Iran, Democrats had better ask them "HOW DO YOU PROPOSE WE PAY FOR THaT?"

    America should not launch any war that can not get popular support for a tax increase to cover the estimated expense of that action.

    With Kerry, Hagel, Rice, Brennan and the National Security Advisor, Americans can have much more confidence that we won`t run headlong into another unfunded war, on false pretenses, that kills 6,000 young Americans and mames another 40,000.

    This would be progress.

    January 30, 2013 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  19. Ron

    This is what Republicans do to Republicans who do not follow the new tea party right-wing extremist party line.

    January 30, 2013 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  20. ted

    Hagel gets the job, Republicans get another black eye.

    January 30, 2013 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  21. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Reluctant or not, this country doesn't need someone half cocked and taking our military into a senseless war. A mans intelligence is not weighed based upon our mighty military at the snap of his finger and they are not trained to shoot just because they have a target in sight.

    January 30, 2013 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  22. Swan

    These clods in the Senate are just worried about the day the the DoD contractor gravey train eases up.

    January 30, 2013 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  23. bellarue

    So the Republican Jewish Coalition and Sheldon Adelson are unhappy that Chuck Hagel uttered the words "Jewish Lobby". Imagine that.

    January 30, 2013 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  24. Thomas More

    Biden?...the clown?...seriously?

    January 30, 2013 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  25. pkrbkr

    Anyone Sheldon Adelson is against I'm FOR! Look at how much money he put in the Romney campaign and what good did it do him?????Hagel should be and will be confirmed!

    January 30, 2013 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
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