(CNN) – Now that Chuck Hagel has been nominated for defense secretary, the former Republican senator from Nebraska faces what many expect to be an uphill battle for confirmation in the Senate.
Hagel took quite a pounding from some senators and independent groups on both sides of the aisle in the days before last week's announcement, with many of them taking issue with some of Hagel's positions and comments dealing with Iran, Iraq and Israel in particular.
Washington (CNN) – Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina on Sunday condemned President Obama’s leadership over the situation in Libya, calling on the United States to “get rid of” Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.
“We used to relish leading the free world, now it’s almost like leading the free world is an inconvenience,” Graham said on “Fox News Sunday.” “I think the president has caveated this way too much, it’s almost like it’s a nuisance.”
“This is not a conventional war,” Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union. “There are different geographical areas that we’re fighting this war in and there are political issues that are far-and-away the most difficult that we’ve encountered probably in any conflict we’ve ever been in.”
The Georgia lawmaker added, “You have the most corrupt government that we’ve ever dealt with from a conflict standpoint. And until you provide some stability and some confidence in the Afghan people about the way forward from a governing standpoint, then I think . . . we could win militarily and still have a very ugly victory.”
Another Armed Services Committee member, Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., largely agreed with Chambliss’ assessment.
Washington (CNN) – Just days before President Obama is expected to announce his plan to send tens of thousands of additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan, the Ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Sunday that the Afghan government currently is not a reliable partner in the American effort to build up Afghan security forces.
After Indiana Republican Sen. Richard Lugar mentioned an ambitious plan to train 134,000 Afghan security forces in a year, which is expected to be part of President Obama’s larger Afghan strategy rolled out to the nation Tuesday evening, CNN Chief National Correspondent John King asked Lugar whether the Afghan government is up to the task of meeting the demands the Obama administration is expected to place on Kabul.
“Do you trust the other side of the equation?,” King asked Lugar on State of the Union. Do we have a reliable partner in the Afghan government?’
“For the moment, we don't have a reliable partner,” Lugar bluntly replied. “If the training occurs, will the government really take hold? We don't know, frankly,” Lugar also said Sunday.
Democratic Sen. Jack Reed, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Sunday that concerns about the administration of Afghan President Hamid Karzai should not impede President Obama’s reported plan to send roughly 30,000 additional U.S. troops to the war torn country.
Washington (CNN) – The Ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Sunday that the Senate should set aside the impending debate on the health care reform bill and, instead, use the remainder of the year to focus on the appropriate strategy for the Afghanistan war, funding the war, and passing the appropriations bill necessary to keep the federal government running.
“I would just make this suggestion,” Republican Sen. Richard Lugar said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, “that in the three weeks of debate we still have ahead of us, we really ought to concentrate in the Congress on the war, on the overall strategy of our country and the cost of it. And we ought to be on the budget - passing appropriations bills in a proper way. . . . We may wish to discuss higher taxes to pay for [the war]. But we're not going to do that debating health care in the Senate for three weeks through all sorts of strategies and so forth.”
“The war is terribly important,” Lugar continued, “Jobs and our economy are terribly important. So this may be an audacious suggestion, but I would suggest we put aside the health care debate until next year, the same way we put cap and trade and climate change [aside] and talk now about the essentials: the war and money.”
Democratic Sen. Jack Reed, who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, disagreed with Lugar.
“Absolutely not,” Reed replied when asked by CNN Chief National Correspondent John King whether the Senate put off debate on the health care reform bill until 2010.
Sens. Richard Lugar and Jack Reed discussed Afghanistan on Sunday's State of the Union. (Photo Credit: CNN)
(CNN) - Still no word on whether Defense Secretary Robert Gates is being asked to stay on the job by the president-elect or whether he would stay if asked. But he makes CNN’s Short List of possible contenders for the cabinet position. Following Lincoln’s model, Obama is open to a bipartisan cabinet, and Gates isn’t the only Republican that makes our list:
ROBERT GATES: He had his first substantive meeting with members of President-elect Barack Obama's transition team Thursday to discuss key issues the new administration will face as it comes into office.
SEN. CHUCK HAGEL: The Republican did not seek re-election to the U.S. Senate in the recent election. Over the course of the Iraq war, Hagel has emerged as a critic of the Bush administration.
SEN. JACK REED: The Rhode Island Democrat serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and was mentioned as a possible running mate for Obama.
Click here for additional CNN short lists for Obama’s potential cabinet.
(CNN) - CNN projects than Democratic Sen. Jack Reed will win a third term in the Rhode Island race, defeating Republican Robert Tingle, who also ran against Reed in 2002.
CNN projections are based on actual results and exit poll data from key areas.
(CNN) - He's making a high-profile trip to Iraq later this month with Barack Obama, but Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed says he has no desire to be the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate's running mate.
Reed, a graduate of West Point has been mentioned as a possible VP candidate given his foreign policy credentials and bipartisan respect on Capitol Hill, told the Associated Press Monday being Obama's running mate is a "position which I have no interest in."
Reed, a two-term senator who is currently in a relatively easy race for re-election, also said the Obama campaign has not asked him for any official documentation pertaining to its VP search process. It has been reported that the Illinois senator's campaign has officially approached at least two candidates so far - Virginia Sen. Jim Webb and Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd.
Election Center: Check out who's on the VP short lists
"There are people that are spending a lot of time, one, looking for candidates, and trying to promote themselves as candidates," Reed also said. "And I'm in neither category."
Reed is little-known beyond his home state, though proponents trump his working-class upbringing, heroic stint in Vietnam, and longtime tenure on the powerful Armed Services Committee as reasons why he could be a valuable asset on the Democratic presidential ticket. On the other hand the Rhode Island senator has a low-key speaking style, comes from a region that is already firmly Democratic, and likely wouldn't embrace the attack-dog role usually required of presidential running mates.
Still, Reed's name received new buzz late last week after it was reported he, along with Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel, would accompany Obama on an upcoming trip to Iraq. Hagel, an opponent of the Iraq war who has become increasingly critical of his own party, has said he would be open to serving as Obama's VP.