February 21st, 2013
01:22 PM ET
10 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.

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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. DENNA

    Sigh. Here's the GOP being stupid again. Gov. Jindal, why don't you become a Democrat? Despite what the GOP says, we have some pretty solid values. You and Gov. Christie have way too much common sense to be in the GOP.

    February 21, 2013 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  2. jboh

    TEA/GOP never lets the truth get in the way of a smear story. In spite of efforts to keep certain, select voter blocs from the polls; in spite of computer generated gerrymandering; and in spite of the "Citizen's United" ruling, TEA/GOP lost the vote for President. They also lost seats in both house and senate in the election that gave "we the people" the clearest choice of direction in decades. Quit throwing your temper tantrums, and put USA before TEA/GOP. Failure to do so borders on treason.

    February 21, 2013 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  3. freedom

    Meanwhile...Rand Paul just gave a check of $600,000 to the US Treasury from his office to contribute toward the national debt. Democrats – put your money where your mouth is! And that includes the president and his wife with their extravagant trips – that we're paying for!

    February 21, 2013 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    "Jindal, why don't you become a Democrat? Despite what the GOP says, we have some pretty solid values. You and Gov. Christie have way too much common sense to be in the GOP."

    Don't be silly. Go research how Jindal blatantly raided LA's well-run, successful and extremely well funded (beacuse of how well it was run) public employee health care plans so he could use the fund to balance his budget and claim to be a hero.

    February 21, 2013 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  5. Paul in NH

    It's simple – because Hagel is not enough of a warmongerer to satisfy the bloodlust of the current version of the GOP – how many wars would we have been in by now if McCain and/or Romney had been elected? Iraq (still), Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iran, N Korea? – and how would we have paid for all this? On the backs of the working people whose sons and daughters would be fighting to preserve the rights of the rich and powerful to avoid military service and keep their 'hard earned' money in the Caymans.

    February 21, 2013 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  6. Rick in OP

    Did any of you people watch Hagel's confirmation hearing? I did, it was painful to watch. He could not answer basic policy questions correctly. At at one point had to retract a statement after someone had handed him a note telling him that he misstated administration policy.
    I have family and friends in the military. They deserve better leadership than Chuck Hagel can offer. He should withdraw his name from consideration.

    P.S. – I am a Republican, too.

    February 21, 2013 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  7. v_mag

    John McCain. Every sentence is a noun, a verb, and Benghazi.

    February 21, 2013 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  8. Moose

    Blame who you want both parties just stink, if they spent a 1/10 on listening instead of blowing b.s. maybe we could get some where. what a freakin joke, yes both parties

    February 21, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  9. Dan5404

    The Republicans who wrote the letter never intended to vote for him, anyway. It's simple. Hagel was a Republican back when they had some principle and hadn't all been bought out by PAC billionaires, but he turned against them when Bush started two unfunded wars and was primarily responsible for destroying the economy and saddling future generations with debt. Then, their turn to the ultra-right cost them two national elections. It's nothing but revenge against Hagel and Obama and a continuation of the previous four years of continuous filibuster and obstruction.

    February 21, 2013 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  10. ghostriter

    Maybe if republicans didn't have this "pitbull with lock jaw" thing going on on every single issue, maybe we could get somewhere.

    You gotta know when to hold 'em, when to fold 'em, when to walk away and when to run.

    February 21, 2013 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
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