January 30th, 2013
05:31 PM ET
7 years 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. MBW

    Just one more example of the Republican Party being out of touch with reality. Did this latest election not show them anything? How much longer will the Republican Party continue on this self destructive bent? They are now operating far 'beyond the pale' of rational thought or action. Who knows where this self-immolation will lead.

    January 30, 2013 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  2. TJeff1776

    Yet another GOP attempted strike against Obama. Really hard for them to get over the election results.

    January 30, 2013 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  3. David

    There should be reluctance to use force, the latest examples of military play have done absolutely nothing to improve the safety of the country.

    January 30, 2013 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  4. Daniel wettstein

    What in the world is the GOP thinking when there open there mouths bashing to heros like this and they wounder way the American people hate them and do not respect them

    January 30, 2013 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  5. chill485

    If Adelson's against him, he must be a great pick.

    January 30, 2013 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  6. consequence

    Being Obama's windup doll is not becoming Joe. Do you have any original thoughts?

    January 30, 2013 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  7. Sadie Boyd

    The obstructionists that do not vote in favor of Hagel are war profiteers, gun manufacturers and have a petty desire to make the first man of color, to dare be President (TWICE!), a failure. Their demonic, mid-century, xenophobic ideas are wearing thin.

    January 30, 2013 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  8. Me 3

    The country is sick of the party of no, the party of grumpy old men and witchy women. If the GOP did not get that after the last election, maybe they will in 2014 or 2016.

    January 30, 2013 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  9. Surthurfurd

    These "Republicans" would denounce Jesus if they heard a good speech by Obama related to the Sermon on the Mount.

    January 30, 2013 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  10. G_Edwards

    ""The real President Obama has exercised force responsibly..."

    Huh? You mean the President who started bombing Libya without any Congressional authorization? THAT kind of responsibility?


    January 30, 2013 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  11. ItSoNlYmE

    They'll be TOO RELUCTANT to use force!?!?! It seems to me that being fast and loose with using force is what's gotten us into a LOT more trouble in the past than the other way around. Funny, the GOP claims they're not the party of war-mongering, yet what are we to make of this?

    January 30, 2013 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  12. are122

    LOL, John Kerry war hero...with self nominated medals. Might be a hero to attempted tax evaders tho.

    January 30, 2013 10:51 pm at 10:51 pm |
  13. carlsberg24

    "A pro-Israel group also went on the airwaves raising questions about his commitment to the Jewish state."

    Newsflash: this country is called the United States of America and not Israel. We can support Israel as far as being an ally, but we have no obligation to do it. It's preposterous that this should even be asked of our Defense Secretary. Why don't we also demand his commitment to Chile.. or Tanzania?

    January 30, 2013 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  14. Doug Lynn

    Yep, Biden is so credible. Remember, he wanted to split Iraq into three separate countries.

    January 30, 2013 11:02 pm at 11:02 pm |
  15. Jeb

    Republicans oppose fellow lifelong Republican and decorated war hero Chuck Hagel for one reason and one reason only....Obama nominated him.

    January 30, 2013 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  16. Chitral Cheetah

    Sheldon Adelson! Again!!!
    But then no worries we know how it turned out last time for this sorry excuse for a human being.

    January 30, 2013 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  17. tony

    Pushing for smaller government, while at the same time pushing for a larger military will soon make us equal to the effectively military governed banana republics of Africa and South America.

    January 31, 2013 12:13 am at 12:13 am |
  18. Epidi

    I prefer a thoughtful warrior who picks his battles. He/she is more likely to win wars should it come to that with less loss of life and resources.

    January 31, 2013 12:14 am at 12:14 am |
  19. WachetAuf

    "GOP charges that it will be too reluctant to use force–as will the president"

    The remedy for resolving the concerns of the GOP is to promote a super mega military nation with a force of about 50 million soldiers, sailors, marines and air force. We can then effectively close our borders, keep out them there commies and Arabs, force our culture on, and occupy, every nation in the world and look toward the universe. We can bring Bush II back into office. Give him a military uniform with all of the campaign ribbons he has so deservedly won through his leadership. We can have military parades every week, flag waiving, military bands, award medals to the latest heroes who are fighting for our great nation with prayers led by Jesus.

    January 31, 2013 12:26 am at 12:26 am |
  20. Robert Bonneau

    The American Jewish lobby is working overtime tp prove it doesn't exist. An entire religion founded on racism.

    January 31, 2013 03:24 am at 3:24 am |
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