CNN's GUT CHECK | for January 7, 2013 | 5 p.m.
– n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle
STORY OF THE DAY: OBAMA NOMINATES NEW TEAM... President Obama nominates Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense and tapped his chief counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, to become CIA director.
Obama on Hagel: “Chuck Hagel is the leader that our troops deserve. He is an American patriot. He enlisted in the army and volunteered for Vietnam. As a young private and then a sergeant, he served with honor alongside his own brother. When Chuck was hit with shrapnel his brother saved him. When his brother was injured by a mine, Chuck risked his life to pull him to safety. To this day, Chuck bears the scars and the shrapnel from battles he fought in our name.”
Obama on Brennan: “In John Brennan, the men and women of the CIA, have the leadership of one our most skilled and respected intelligence professionals, not to mention that unique combination of smarts and strength that he claims comes from growing up in New Jersey.”
Hagel hearings to be contentious…: There are “at least” 10 Democrats in the Senate who are either “undecided or concerned” about Chuck Hagel’s previous Israel statements, according to one senior Democratic congressional source. That does not mean, however, that they will be “no” votes. “I don’t think anyone has decided to oppose,” he says, referring to Democrats. So the situation is clearly fluid—and Hagel will have to answer tough questions from both sides of the aisle. CNN’s Gloria Borger was also told by another source familiar with the confirmation process that Hagel was “working the Hill” last week, trying to “calm down Republicans.”
… but not impossible: “When the chairman of the committee, during the event, issues his statement saying ‘I endorse you, let’s get the process moving,’ that tells you Chuck Hagel’s chances of being confirmed multiplied exponentially just during the last 40 minutes or so on television,” said CNN’s Chief National Correspondent John King on CNN.
JUST IN: CORNYN: HAGEL IS "PROFOUNDLY WRONG"… In an interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) explains why he is opposed to former Sen. Chuck Hagel becoming Secretary of Defense. Cornyn says Hagel is "profoundly wrong on some of the biggest national security threats confronting the United States today, namely a nuclear Iran.” “This is a wrong job for him," explained Cornyn, “because he's certainly outside of the national security mainstream.”
Hagel allies prepared to defend, but for now are standing down: Supporters of Chuck Hagel formed an organization to fight back against attacks directed at the former Republican senator, but for now have decided not to launch a political campaign style defense of the new Secretary of Defense nominee. Kevin Bohn and Mark Preston
Before Leon Panetta, who was the last Democrat to serve as defense secretary?
“He doesn’t do down time.” – Obama on John Brennan, Monday
Obama’s nomination of John Brennan to lead the CIA caught our eye today, as did CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen and Jennifer Rowland’s take on the man they call “Obama’s drone warrior” in their new CNN.com/Opinion piece.
“If there is an emerging Obama doctrine to deal with the threat from al Qaeda and its allies, it is clearly a rejection of the use of conventional military forces and a growing reliance instead on the use of drones and U.S. Special Operations Forces - and Brennan has been central to Obama's policy. …
“Brennan has been at the center of the decisions about the use of drones in Pakistan and Yemen and their possible use in Mali, and all of this surely will be a matter of discussion during his forthcoming nomination hearings.
“A road map to what Brennan will likely say about drones in his nomination hearing is provided by his April speech at the Woodrow Wilson Center in which he explained that drone strikes are "ethical" because of "the unprecedented ability of remotely piloted aircraft to precisely target a military objective while minimizing collateral damage; one could argue that never before has there been a weapon that allows us to distinguish more effectively between an al Qaeda terrorist and innocent civilians."
Did you miss it?
Leading Lincoln Journal Star: Exclusive: Hagel says critics distort his views on Israel, Iran
Chuck Hagel said Monday an accurate assessment of his record will demonstrate "unequivocal, total support for Israel" and endorsement of tough international economic sanctions against Iran. Critics have "completely distorted" his record, the former Nebraska senator said in his first interview as President Barack Obama's designated choice to be secretary of defense. Now, at last, Hagel said, with his nomination announced by the president, he has "an opportunity to set the record straight."
Leading CNNPolitics: White House officials reach out to Jewish community to answer Hagel concerns
Senior members of the White House staff called key American Jewish interest groups on Sunday to tell them about the impending nomination of Chuck Hagel to be defense secretary and to try to answer their concerns about his record, several sources familiar with the calls told CNN. One of the call recipients, who generally supports the nomination but who requested anonymity to freely discuss the matter, told CNN the outreach shows "not only there is some concern, but the White House takes the concern seriously and wants to have the very conversation at the highest levels." – Kevin Bohn
Leading Drudge: Dems Eye $1 Trillion Tax Hike
Democrats say they want to raise as much as $1 trillion in new revenues through tax reform later this year to balance Republican demands to slash mandatory spending. Democratic leaders have had little time to craft a new position for their party since passing a tax deal Tuesday that will raise $620 billion in revenue over the next 10 years. – Alexander Bolton
Leading HuffPo: Unfinished Business
Struggling for the upper hand in the next round of debt talks, Republicans and Democrats this weekend drew lines in the sand they said they'd never cross when it comes to the U.S. debt limit. The tough talk on the Sunday morning talk shows doesn't bode well for voters who are frustrated by the political gridlock. “I believe we need to raise the debt ceiling, but if we don't raise it without a plan to get out of debt, all of us should be fired,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. – Anne Flaherty
Leading Politico: Bill Kristol’s big plans start with Chuck Hagel nomination
In the weeks since Election Day — as Mitt Romney faded into obscurity, John Boehner lost control of the House GOP and tea partiers turned on one another — Bill Kristol has been busy charting the future of the Republican Party…. (Kristol) and his allies advanced their hawkish neoconservative foreign policy by pushing the controversy that sank Susan Rice’s potential nomination for secretary of state. And Kristol is just getting started. One Kristol-linked group, the Emergency Committee for Israel, has already aired ads targeting former Sen. Chuck Hagel, who is Obama’s nominee for defense secretary, and is planning a “substantial” paid-media campaign opposing the nomination. Kristol believes Hagel is both a “bitter opponent of Israel” and “very weak on Iran.” – Kenneth P. Vogel
Leading The New York Times: For Ryan’s Next Act, Balancing Pragmatism With Politics
After Senator John McCain’s failed presidential bid in 2008, he repaired to the Senate to become a thorn in President Obama’s side. His running mate, Sarah Palin, used her considerable clout on the right to rally her fervent supporters against Mr. Obama and Democrats. But when the vice-presidential hopes of Representative Paul D. Ryan were dashed this Election Day, he returned to the House of Representatives and last week helped pass a bipartisan tax deal sought by Mr. Obama. – Ashley Parker
The political bites of the day
- In favor of Hagel -
DEMOCRATIC SEN. JACK REED OF RHODE ISLAND IN A WRITTEN STATEMENT: “Chuck Hagel will make an outstanding secretary of defense. 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. I fully support his confirmation.”
FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE COLIN POWELL IN A WRITTEN STATEMENT: “I wholeheartedly endorse President Obama’s nomination of former Senator Chuck Hagel to be the next secretary of defense. Chuck Hagel has been a friend and colleague of mine for over twenty years. He is a fellow Infantryman who demonstrated his courage in Vietnam. He served his country as a dedicated official in the Department of Veteran Affairs and as a respected legislator. He was also a successful businessman. He will be a splendid successor to Secretary Leon Panetta, who has done a superb job in guiding the Pentagon. I urge the Senate to hold prompt hearings and to confirm this distinguished American as soon as possible.”
ABRAHAM H. FOXMAN, NATIONAL DIRECTOR OF THE ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE, IN A WRITTEN STATEMENT: “Senator Hagel would not have been my first choice, but I respect 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. I particularly hope Senator Hagel will clarify and explain his comments about the ‘Jewish Lobby’ that were hurtful to many in the Jewish Community.”
- In opposition of Hagel -
HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER ERIC CANTOR IN A WRITTEN STATEMENT: “I am profoundly concerned and disappointed by President Obama’s nomination of former Senator Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense. Recent reporting has made clear that Senator Hagel’s views and inflammatory statements about Israel are well outside the mainstream and raise well-founded doubts that he can be trusted to manage the special relationship the United States shares with our greatest Middle East ally.”
REPUBLICAN SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM IN AN INTERVIEW WITH CNN’s CANDY CROWLEY: “Chuck 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. Not only has he said you should directly negotiate with Iran, sanctions won't work, that Israel must negotiate with Hamas, an organization, terrorist group that lobs thousands of rockets into Israel. He also was one of 12 senators who refused to sign a letter to the European Union trying to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.”
- Clinton back at State after concussion and blood clot, receives gag gift from staff -
VICTORIA NULAND, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN, AT MONDAY’S PRESS CONFERENCE: “She opened the box and inside – first of all he (Thomas Nides) said `As you know, Washington is a contact sport.’ And she opened the box and inside was a football helmet with a State Department seal, lots of good padding and also a football jersey that said Clinton on the back and on the front it says #112 which symbolizes the number of countries she visited as Secretary of State. She loved it. She thought it was cool. But then being Hillary Clinton she wanted to get right to business.” PHOTO
- Booker calls Lautenberg loyal, but still intends to run -
NEWARK MAYOR CORY BOOKER IN AN INTERVIEW ON CNN’S “STARTING POINT”: “I've announced my intention to run, but the reality is, is we've got a good senator. He's been loyal, he has been there a long time. And I think that he's got a decision to make. So I'm focusing on my job for now and I hope to talk to him. We've reached out to him a number of times. In fact, I had a plane trip going down to meet with him, and unfortunately with a lot of challenges going down in Washington, he had to cancel the meeting.”
- ‘Republican men ... pound their chests,’ says women in Congress advocate -
STEPHANIE SCHRIOCK, PRESIDENT OF EMILY’S LIST, IN AN INTERVIEW WITH CNN: “These Republican men, and John Boehner in particular, tend to want to stand around and pound their chests rather than getting things done and solving our nation's problems. And I think it's time to get the speaker's gavel out of his hands and into the hands of a woman.”
What stopped us in 140 characters or less
TRIVIA ANSWER from @DanMericaCNN
President Barack Obama nominated former Sen. Chuck Hagel as his nominee to become the next Defense secretary, replacing outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. The White House was calling senators' offices Sunday to inform them Hagel's nomination was imminent and to help build support for it, a source familiar with the nomination said.
Prior to Panetta, who served in the U.S. House of Representatives as a Democrat, a long line of Defense secretaries have been Republicans. Even Robert Gates, who served as Defense secretary at the outset of the Obama administration, was a holdover from the Bush administration and is a Republican.
The last Defense secretary, prior to Panetta, to identify as a Democrat, was William Perry, who served as Bill Clinton’s Defense secretary from February 3, 1994 to January 23 1997.
The next three Defense secretaries, William Cohen under Clinton and Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates under President George W. Bush, were Republicans.
GUT CHECK WINNER’S CIRCLE
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Congrats to John Edgell for correctly answering that William Perry was the last Democrat to serve as Defense Secretary. Edgell is also the first person to use Gut Check’s new Facebook page to answer the trivia question. Trailblazer!
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