February 21st, 2013
01:22 PM ET
5 years ago

GOP critics of Hagel call on Obama to withdraw nomination

(CNN) - Fifteen of Chuck Hagel’s harshest Republican critics in the Senate are calling on President Obama to withdraw his nomination, arguing “it would be unprecedented for a Secretary of Defense to take office without the broad base of bipartisan support and confidence needed to serve effectively in this critical position.”

In a letter Thursday to the president, the senators didn’t raise any new substantive concerns about Hagel but reiterated long-held complaints about his stances on key issues. In particular, they said his “ambivalence about whether containment or prevention is the best approach” to dealing with a possibly nuclear-armed Iran means “the military option will have near zero credibility” if he were in charge of the Pentagon.

In addition, they said Hagel’s uneven performance during his confirmation raised “serious doubts about his basic competence to meet the substantial demands” of the job.

The Senate is scheduled to vote Tuesday whether to end a GOP filibuster of the nomination. A similar vote last week fell short of the 60 votes needed to end the debate. Despite considerable opposition from Republican senators, many GOP lawmakers and aides expect Hagel will be confirmed, although with just a handful of GOP votes.

In fact, Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, who had voted against ending the filibuster so his colleagues would have more time to gather information about Hagel, announced Thursday that he would now support Hagel’s confirmation.

Signatories to the letter include Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate; James Inhofe of Oklahoma, the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee; Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who had previously called on the president to withdraw Hagel’s nomination; and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who raised hackles on both sides of the aisle when he suggested, without evidence, Hagel might have been paid by North Korea and other countries opposed to U.S. interests.

Notably absent from the letter is Sen. John McCain of Arizona, who has led the charge against Hagel’s confirmation and voted last week against breaking the filibuster. Despite his opposition, McCain has also said he believes the president has a right to an up or down vote on his cabinet selections.

Filed under: Chuck Hagel • Department of Defense • Republicans • Senate
soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. Wake up People!

    Good Lord, will someone please tell the Republican party, they lost in November. The POTUS is Barack Obama, not Willard Romney. YOU PEOPLE DO NOT GET TO PICK HIS CABINET, HE DOES!!!

    Complete and utter disrespect.

    February 21, 2013 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  2. Boo

    I am sick to death of the Republicans.....

    February 21, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  3. Name

    GOP doing people business in actionEmail (unpublished)

    February 21, 2013 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  4. Bill

    Hagel wll not be withdrawn and he is the Secretary of Defense. Cruz, Inhofe, Cornyn? More like the Three Stooges. Get over it.

    February 21, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  5. Howard

    Never in American history has one political party been so openly committed to undermining the administrative goals of a President elected by a majority of the American electorate. I don't know if it's because they have become so venal that their definition of patriotism includes thwarting the will of the majority, or if it's just because of the color of this President's skin. I suppose it is, to some degree, because of both.

    Whatever the reason, I can't help but wonder if their doing so causes much of the rest of the world to look at America now as they once looked at South Africa.

    February 21, 2013 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  6. ST

    This is totally a destruction. How can these GOP critics claim Chuck Hagel has no bipartisan support and confidence needed to serve effectively. Here is my question: What support and confidence people have in them to serve effectively? Their approval rating tells all.

    February 21, 2013 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  7. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Sen. Cruz nor Sen. Cornyn ever served in the Armed Forces. How is their two cents relevant? Stop playing with our national defense republicans!!!

    February 21, 2013 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  8. Tom

    If Obama is forced to withdraw Hagel's nomination, I hope he nominates someone the Republicans will hate ten times more. Maybe Michael Moore for Secretary of Defense. How about Rachel Maddow or Dennis Kucinich? Or perhaps just leave the position unfilled until there is some crisis then blame the Republicans for blocking the nomination. This obstructionism has to end.

    February 21, 2013 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  9. Pearlgirl

    The republican party is an embarrassment! They are surely standing in the way of progress. We should doc their pay.

    February 21, 2013 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  10. The NRA is a T e r r o r i st organisation....Arming Mentally Unbalanced People to Kill Innocent Children

    Let's have an up and down vote....51 votes confirmed with no filibuster!!!

    Can these idiot actually do their job instead of going on 2-weeks vacation every other month?!!!

    John McSame is betraying his best friend & the GOP is blatantly betraying one of their own...just show you that the GOP got a knife in your back all the time waiting for that soft spot to stab you in the BACK!!!

    It's a shame

    February 21, 2013 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    "“the military option will have near zero credibility”"

    Newsflash: It already doesn't, which is why Iran ignores your bravado. We are never getting ivolved in a ground war in Iran. Ever. Ever ever ever. Particularly in light of the budgetary problems we already caused ourselves with two wars of convenience that went unfunded...yet another unprecedented act on the part of the GOP. And getit hrough your skulls: we won't be bomb bomb bomb, bomb bombing Iran back into the stone age either. That won't work and it will achieve nothing but international outrage.

    February 21, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC

    Ray E. (Georgia)

    Conservative is a Common Sense View, not a political view. ... ... ...
    So, why are so many conservatives politicians then? That's like saying drinking a glass of water twice a day is a common sense healthy choice, not a political view. Okay, granted. Since health nuts do not usually make for a good politicians, it sounds like you're making the same argument that conservatives do not make good polticians.

    Do you folks ever stop and just simply listen to the stuff that you say? Are your beliefs system actually more powerful than the truth and concrete facts?

    In other news, the scapegoating of Hagel is a disgrace. To withhold the Hagel nomination for the uncited and uncertain reasons is not only unjustified, but comprises the security of our nation by stalling his taking over a vital position. Republicans should at least allow a POTUS to pick and choose who he wants for his inner circle, even if they are ideologues.

    It should be about whether or not the person has the skills to do the job, not whether or not you agree with their political views. Because, more times than not, if the person is selected by a POTUS of the opposite you are more than likely to disagree with the nominee's political views. That's a given, not a major impediment, which is what the Republicans are so cowardly treating this as.

    February 21, 2013 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  13. Wake up People!

    The GOP truly does EAT it's own........

    February 21, 2013 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  14. gg

    Those Republicans need to be vote out from the senate and the house, they are doing nothing useful for the last four years.

    February 21, 2013 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  15. marty

    There is ' love of country first and party second" in the makeup of Chuck Hagel, not at all evidenced in the makeup of Inhofe,
    Cornyn, Graham and McCarthy...oops...I mean Cruz. As for McCain, this is a man of many faces, depending on the situation at hand. With his "gotcha" questions (interrogations) of Mr Hagel, McCain took his swipes and digs not only at his old friend but at the President as well, through the proverbial side door. The friend,Hagel, once supported McCain's rival and Mr. Obama beat him in the presidential election. Not sure if McCain forgives but he sure doesn't forget! Let the critics criticize, that's all they seem to be able to do, at least for the last four plus years.

    February 21, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  16. freedom

    This is a disgrace for the Democrats. Why aren't more of those senators opposing this nomination? Look up Hagel's hearing and see how incoherent he spoke and how indecisive he was on key issues. Do the democrats really think this is the best person for the job? The standards for our national security have certainly decreased under this presidency – along with many other crucial issues our country faces.

    February 21, 2013 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  17. Joi Gibson

    Did anyone hear about the so-called journalist who innocently started the rumor about Hagel's speech to the Friends of Hamas (can't think of the guy's name) by asking a seemingly ridiculous question and a Senate Republican aide ran with it. The guy thought the question was so silly that surely no one would take it seriously and lo and behold you have Senator Cruz.

    Just because Hagel gave a less than stellar performance at the Senate hearings does not mean he is incompetent to run the DOD. If performance is to be standard of competency, then I suggest McCain, Graham, and Cruz should leave the Senate right now. Not that any pertinent questions were asked of Hagel – not one question had anything to do with the job of Secretary of Defense and yet these folks call him incompetent. Pot meet kettle.

    February 21, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    And in the photo above, Hagel is attempting to force-choke McCain for his backstabbing betrayal of their former friendship...

    Of course, McCain already admitted publicly that this is all motivated largely by revenge because Hagel broke ranks back when Dubya was POTUS and criticized the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the surge strategy they wanted to implement. Wanna publish that quote from last week, CNN? No? Predictable.

    February 21, 2013 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  19. jkane sfl the gop national disgrace party will be swept out like the trash they are in2014 ?

    Hey, they lost the elections ,maybe their to dumb to know it, gop you lost the e

    February 21, 2013 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  20. norma jean

    "BI PARTISAN SUPPORT".......NOW WHERE HAVE WE HEARD THAT TERM BEFORE??? All of a sudden the Repubs are using it to support their point on the Hagel nomination!!! WHAT COLOSSAL NERVE!!!! They have ignored this support for years and a two term president.......but when they want to make a point...all of a sudden it matters...BI PARTISAN SUPPORT.....You Repubs are cutting your own throats every time you make a move....who cares what you want any more???

    February 21, 2013 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  21. chilly g

    america has change and is changing everyday for the better but republicans hate this new america because it just
    elected a black man for president and then reelected him and its hard for the republicans to except thoses facts
    in their harts.but american will continue to move forward and the hateful gop will fad and fad and fad until its a
    new gop that will reflex current american value.

    February 21, 2013 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  22. yanni

    GOP is going mad. I think this is a mental health issue otherwise what can define their actions?

    February 21, 2013 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  23. Sniffit

    "I think this is a mental health issue otherwise what can define their actions?"


    Next question.

    February 21, 2013 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  24. yanni

    Yes "$" one of the factor. I also think their mental disorder is arising from deep seeded hate

    February 21, 2013 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  25. Pete

    Hagels a republican but because of his stance on the wars,Bushs handling of them and saying publicly he's one of the worse presidents ever republicans want his name withdrawn from consideration?Is McCain ,Graham and the rest of those obstructionistic traitors of the red,white and blue understand that voters even the ones who put you in office now want your hides!!People are tired of this republican obstructionism and critizing on everything even after they'd agreed in part on something..Perfect example is McConnells bringing a bill to the floor and after hearing Pres.Obama agreeing on it McConnell goes ahead and votes against it and thus withdrawing his own bill,how pathedic and unpatriotic as well not wanting to help the same constituents that put you there because you're still on a crusade to rid the country of the first black president in his first term at all costs,the problem is Pres.Obama is now sucessfully in his second term you nitwit racist if you fail to remember!!So to Boehner,McConnell,McCain,Graham and company ,the party of utter hypocracy,political obstructionism that your time of politics is quickly coming to an end and after midterms you'll have all the time in the world to ponder over all your political mistakes and one is going against the peoples choice in Pres.Obama,remember you did lose and big last November!!

    February 21, 2013 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
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