Graham calls for Obama to withdraw Hagel
February 5th, 2013
11:01 AM ET
10 years ago

Graham calls for Obama to withdraw Hagel

(CNN) - Sen. Lindsey Graham isn't committing to blocking former Sen. Chuck Hagel's nomination to be secretary of defense.

Instead, he wants President Barack Obama to do that for him.

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The South Carolina Republican issued a statement Tuesday morning saying he hoped the "Obama administration will reconsider his nomination."

Late Monday, he described Hagel's appearance last Thursday before the Senate Armed Services Committee - on which Graham sits - as less than "confidence-inspiring." Republicans on the committee peppered Hagel with critical questions about his past position on negotiations with Iran over its nuclear question, statements some have thought suggested he was not an ardent supporter of Israel, and other issues.

So far, no Republicans have stepped forward with a commitment to filibuster Hagel's confirmation.

It would be unprecedented for one to do so.

While filibusters of presidential nominations have been threatened before, Betty Koed of the Senate Historian's Office told CNN on Monday that a Cabinet nominee has never faced a formal filibuster which required 60 votes to break, a higher threshold than for confirmation.

Sen. John McCain said Monday he would not support a filibuster of Hagel. McCain is also a member of the Armed Services Committee, an ally of Graham and formerly a close friend of Hagel.

"I don't think it's appropriate and I would oppose such a move," McCain, R-Arizona, said.

Another tactic would be for a senator to put a hold on Hagel - something any member of the body can do - which would delay any confirmation vote.

Sen. James Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, addressed that tactic on Monday, telling reporters he did not "know anyone who's saying that now or who's committed to it or committed against it."

Graham's Tuesday statement raised questions about Hagel's comments on the suspected Iranian nuclear program. Graham pressed Hagel on Iran at last week's hearing.

"Chuck Hagel is a good man, but these are dangerous times. What kind of signal are we sending to the Iranians when our nominee for Secretary of Defense seems clueless about what our policy is?" his statement said.

- CNN's Rachel Streitfeld and Gregory Wallace contributed to this report

Filed under: 2016 • Chuck Hagel • Lindsey Graham
soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. Larry L

    Surely the President will obey the wishes of an obstructionist dedicated to failure in the Obama administration – regardless of the cost to the Americaqn people! Graham just can't stop politicking long enough to do the right thing... not even to appoint a friend from his own party!

    February 5, 2013 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  2. Canuck

    What do you suppose George Bush would have told any Democrat who asked him to withdraw one of his nominees? Two words come to mind......

    February 5, 2013 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  3. J'Cincinnati'Redd

    This has gone on long enough, my God, they will pust this to the limit. Im starting to hate politics.

    February 5, 2013 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  4. AK_steve

    McCain says, "I don't think it's appropriate and I would oppose such a move". Since when in the past four years has the GOP done anything appropriate?

    February 5, 2013 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  5. Mike Texoma

    Lindsey Graham is talking himself into irrelevancy.

    February 5, 2013 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  6. Abraham

    We know where Grahams true loyalties lie. Israle First!!

    February 5, 2013 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  7. Joi Gibson

    Lindsey Graham should not be commenting about being clueless. All he and his buddy McCain were interested in was Hagel's opposition to the Iraq surge and what he said about the Pro-Israel lobby. McCain just wants Hagel to say McCain was right – how narcissistic – and Graham knows all too well that damn near everybody in Congress – if not all – are beholden to some special interest group. Chuck Hagel may not have been at his finest, but that does not negate his ability to be the Secretary of Defense. Besides, Graham and McCain, were clapping like trained seals when Netanyahu came to Congress and disrespected President Obama. So yeah, they are scared/beholden/whatever to the Pro-Israel lobby.

    February 5, 2013 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  8. Pete

    Why don't Graham just back off ,he's throwing his weight around way too much lately and as McCain its got to stop..Doesn't he realize that midterms are coming fast and his butt could be out the door or if he's not running this time he could be seeing a reversal of congressional powers and wouldn't that bust his little bubble..Try working with the president Graham and quit playing the ole angry white racist card its definitly getting old ,the elections over,you lost and followers are dropping like flies and you know it because even McCain is softening under political pressure and your arrogence is definitly overshadowing your ignorence ,move on or move out its that easy Graham...

    February 5, 2013 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  9. freedom

    Hagel was incoherent and did not show intelligence when he was questioned. We need a strong individual in that position- in mind and conviction – it all falls in line with the puppets Obama wants in his cabinet – to manipulate. First Rice, now Hagel. It's very good we have the senators questioning these appointments – the bottom line is we want our country safe.

    February 5, 2013 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  10. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Instead, he wants President Barack Obama to do that for him."

    Well, they don't call Lindsey Graham "Miss Lindsey" for nothing. Always stepping in it and wanting others to clean him off. Considering that it was President Obama who nominated Chuck Hagel for the position and Graham has done nothing more than make a mockery out of the nominating process, no doubt Graham is feeling the backlash. Too much John McCain sour grapes syndrome for Lindsey who ought to have known better than to follow old McCain into his exceedingly strange and very bitter meltdown. Guess that old adage of "if it's too for you, get out of the kitchen" finally caught up to both McCain and Graham. No problem. A bit of Pepto Bismol and "voila" off to the next big "controversy" they go, locked together in BFF camaraderie.

    February 5, 2013 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  11. n222s

    One simple thing should stop Hagel; his lack of understanding of the Obama administration's policy towards Iran. You are right, he does not make policy. However, after being prepped 3 times by the admin (their count) he couldn't remember this basic position? Does that sound like someone who should hold a cabinet position? He can't remember the policy towards Iran?

    But who cares, right? He doesn't make policy. You are right but the DOD is responsible for activities in accordance with policy. If he lacks such a basic understanding of the President's policy, can you be sure he will understand what it takes to implement the activities to support such a policy?

    You may believe the President is the greatest ever. That isn't the point I am debating. No matter how much you admire O he is only as good as the people who implement his policies. Hagel isn't up to the task. There are plenty of people who are able.

    February 5, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  12. Bill from GA

    Harry Reid really blew it when he wimped out on the Senate rules change. One Senator should NOT have the power to block any measure.

    I don't even blame Graham; I know what kind of low-life he is. I guess i can't blame Reid either, i know the dems are totally gutless.

    February 5, 2013 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  13. Thinker23

    I'd like to ask all those complaining about "Israel first" a very simple question, WHAT'S THE ALTERNATIVE they would prefer except "Jihad first"?

    Hint: there is a global war going on between the Western civilization and the militant Islam do you like it or not. The US as well as any other country on the planet can take one side or the other but it can not pretend that the war is not happening.

    February 5, 2013 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  14. chilly g

    senator graham is runing for reelection next year and that the main reason he acting like that and the fact thar
    the president won reelection just make him so angry.i use to like this guy a little but not anymore.

    February 5, 2013 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  15. sonny chapman

    A Chicken Hawk Repub. questioning the ability of a Vietnam War Vet. to be a Civilian Military leader ? Where have we seen this movie before ?

    February 5, 2013 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  16. bcrunner

    The two amigos (they don't have Lieberman to drag around with them anymore) look so desperate these days. They are truly pathetic!! McCain is re-litigating the Iraq war all over again... History will show it was not really the surge that turned things around. It probably helped somewhat but it was not the reason. We just lost more than 1,200 soldiers on top of what we had already lost.. for what? Iran is that much stronger and that much more of a threat now... What's even more incredible, is the fact that when a Republican wants to serve their country.. especially under a Demoract, they go nuts... McCain is on record back in 2008 considering Chuck Hagel for a position in his administration...

    February 5, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  17. Gregory M. Newbold

    The President has nominated someone [a Republican] that can shepard through the REDUCTIONS in DOD spending that are required to put America on a trajectory to pay off our National Debt.

    Lindsey Graham fears Chuck Hagel for this reason. Military influences in South Carolina are more behind this opposition than any nation-wide patriotic concern. Our collective interests are served by returning to Clinton-era surpluses. The path to that is a growing GDP and DECLINING government spending on defense. Chuck Hagel provides the President the political cover to push things in that direction and that is GOOD for America.

    February 5, 2013 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  18. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    The South Carolina Republican issued a statement Tuesday morning saying he hoped the "Obama administration will reconsider his nomination."
    What's he on? He's gotta be on something. What is it?

    February 5, 2013 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  19. patNY

    This is Republican Politics at its best (or worst depending on your perspective):
    1. They have no intention on filibustering a cabinet nominee knowing it will set a precedent for future republican presidential cabinet nominees for the dems to follow suit.
    2. They know the nominee is going to win approval if all Dems vote yes, which they will.
    3. They have to look both non-obstructionist while at the same time staying loyal to the rabid Obama haters of the deep south, where Graham is from.
    4. So...they put up their barking dog, Graham, to have his little temper tantrum just so they can say hey, we tried to stop the nominee from being confirmed.

    Whatever. And this is why most Americans hate Congress.

    BTW – this Obama supporter is getting tired of standing up for him with this budget non-sense. He needs to put one together and say here ya go Congress. Now what?

    February 5, 2013 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  20. Rudy NYC

    Okay, no problem. Tit for tat. Ask Sen. McCain to resign from the Senate for making such offensive remarks against another nation's leader. The remarks were especially appalling because he once ran for office as leader of our nation.

    February 5, 2013 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  21. Sniffit

    "Graham calls for Obama to withdraw Hagel"

    Graham's backside calls for Graham to remove his head.


    February 5, 2013 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  22. WIMPY38

    When is Graham going to stop kidding himself and just step "out of the closet"? Everyone in DC knows he fronting.

    February 5, 2013 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  23. Dave in Arizona

    I'm so sick of Israel being a political tool in this country. Since when is it a requirement for American politicians and officials to support a foreign country? Where in the Constitution is that a requirement to hold office?

    February 5, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  24. 1CentFree

    The only reason why all of the dogs are barking and not biting is because there is the very slight possibility that they may be in Hagel's shoes someday, and the last thing they want is a bunch of Dems to filibuster their nomination. Self-interests ALWAYS comes first with these numb-skulls!

    February 5, 2013 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  25. NameBlueAlliance

    Lindsey Graham wants to manipulate Obama's cabinet choices. Usually Presidents are able to choose who THEY want but this is a black president and black is considered inferior by the likes of Graham. He perpetuates the racist attitude held by the GOP. Sadly Obama has been obstructed since day one of his presidency and as a consequence the country has suffered. We need to vote these treasonous GOP members out and bring in true American patriots before the GOP destroy this country.

    February 5, 2013 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
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