DEMOCRATS AND THE HAGEL NOMINATION

HAGEL FACES OPPOSITION FROM SENATE DEMOCRATS

The Washington Post: "The Real Danger To Obama’s Pick To Lead The Pentagon Is From Within The President’s Own Party." "While the Republican opposition to Hagel has drawn most of the headlines to date, however, the real danger to Obama’s pick to lead the Pentagon is from within the President’s own party." (Chris Cillizza And Aaron Blake, "President Obama Picks A Confirmation Fight. Can He Win It?" The Washington Post’s The Fix, 1/7/13)

NBC: As Many As 10 Democrat Senators Could Vote Against Hagel:

Chuck Todd: “As for Defense, this is actually the third time the President has had to fill an opening at the Pentagon, and for the second time his choice is a Republican. This time its former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel, but Hagel’s nomination is already touching off a big political fight. Before Chuck Hagel can take over at the Pentagon, he must be confirmed by the Senate, and he’s already facing an uphill battle. Even though Democrats control the Senate, NBC News has learned as many as ten Democratic Senators could vote against Hagel. Publicly, leading Democrats have not expressed much support.” (NBC’s “Today,” 1/7/13)

DEMOCRATS ARE UNSURE WHETHER HAGEL CAN BE CONFIRMED

Top Senate Democrat Aide: There’s Not Even Enough Democrat Support For Hagel:

Senate Democratic Aide: “The Administration Can’t Simply Take It For Granted That They Have 51 Democratic Votes For Hagel.” “For these Democrats, the only reason to support Hagel is out of pure loyalty to the President. That is a major consideration, obviously, but Hagel has some explaining to do on his past statements. A path exists for him to be confirmed, but if Republicans are going to oppose him en masse, the administration can’t simply take it for granted that they have 51 Democratic votes for Hagel.” (Mike Allen, “OBAMA WALKS HIGH WIRE ON HAGEL — Boehner: GOP Is Willing To Let Sequester Kick In, Which He Sees As His Real Leverage On Entitlements — Couric, Thune, Rand Paul B’days,” Politico Playbook, 1/7/13)

  • “Everyone Is Scratching Their Heads, Wondering Why This Is The One Time That The President Has Drawn A Line In The Sand And Actually Intends To Stick To It,’ Said One Democratic Senate Operative.” (Chris Cillizza And Aaron Blake, “President Obama Picks A Confirmation Fight. Can He Win It?” The Washington Post’s The Fix, 1/7/13)
  • Capitol Hill Democrat: “The Choice Is Confounding…” “Added another Capitol Hill Democrat: ‘The choice is confounding…I think they can ultimately get through this fight, but the White House has to get ahead of this thing quickly.’” (Chris Cillizza And Aaron Blake, “President Obama Picks A Confirmation Fight. Can He Win It?” The Washington Post’s The Fix, 1/7/13)

Politico: “Even Senate Democrats Are Privately Signaling They’re Not Yet On Board With The Hagel Pick, And That The White House Has A Lot Of Work To Do To Get Him Across The Finish Line.” (Scott Wong And Manu Raju, “Chuck Hagel Takes Fire From Capitol Hill,” Politico, 1/6/13)

ABC’s Jonathan Karl: “I Talked This Morning To A Top Democratic Staffer In The Senate, Who Said This Is Not A Guarantee That He Will Get Confirmed”

ABC’s George Stephanopoulos: “Jon Karl, that’s caused some concern among Democrats as well, as Glen mentioned Chuck Schumer. So I guess it gets to the question, why is the President so determined to go forward with this?”

ABC’s Jon Karl: “Well, he thinks he’s the right guy for the job, thinks having an enlisted Vietnam veteran running the Pentagon who agreed with him when it came to Iraq and on Afghanistan. He’s the right guy to do it. But I’ve gotta tell you, there’s gonna be a big problem in the Senate on this. I mean, I talked this morning to a top Democratic staffer in the Senate, who said this is not a guarantee that he will get confirmed, that there are enough Democrats that are concerned about Hagel to put him well short of fifty until he makes the case. I mean, I think ultimately he gets confirmed, but this will be a real battle in the Senate.”

(ABC’s “This Week,” 1/6/13)

Senate Dem Aide: Hagel “Is In A Weaker Position Now Than Rice Ever Was Because Rice Would Have Rallied Democrats Behind Her”

An Anonymous Democratic Senate Aide Said That Hagel “Is In A Weaker Position Now Than Rice Ever Was Because Rice Would Have Rallied Democrats Behind Her.” “‘The administration has a lot of work to do on Hagel,’ a Democratic Senate aide said on Sunday. ‘He is in a weaker position now than Rice ever was because Rice would have rallied Democrats behind her. The administration floated Hagel’s name, then neglected to defend him effectively when his critics started taking shots,’ the aide said.” (Thomas Ferraro, “Obama To Nominate Hagel For Defense Secretary: Democratic Aide,” Reuters, 1/6/13)

DEMOCRATS CRITICAL OF A HAGEL NOMINATION

#1: Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD): “There Are Democrats, Including This Senator, Who Have Questions That Have To Be Answered Before I Can Support Him”:

Current TV’s Richard Fowler: “Good morning. So first question to you Senator, what do you think about the Chuck Hagel pick from the President?”

Cardin: “Well I think it will be controversial. I hope most Senators will take their responsibility to advise and consent and let the process move forward. Let’s go through the hearings. There are some statements that Senator Hagel has made that he needs to clarify. And we’ll see how the confirmation process proceeds, if he’s nominated, but it will be controversial.”

Fowler: “Do you think he’ll make it through though Senator?”

Cardin: “I’m not-the answer is yes, I think he probably will, but it’s not a forgone conclusion. The Republicans right now seem to be well organized in opposition. There are Democrats, including this Senator, who have questions that have to be answered before I can support him. So, the process is gonna have to go forward if the President nominates him. And that’s what the confirmation hearings should be about. It should be about putting on the record some of the statements he’s made, how he feels about Iran and sanctions, how he feels about US policies towards Israel and the Middle East. I think all of those need to be on the record so the American people can hear Senator Hagel defend some of the charges that have been made. But, quite frankly, I don’t think we should pre-judge this.”

(Current TV’s “Full Court Press,” 1/7/13)

#2: Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) Would Not Say Whether He Would Support Chuck Hagel:

In An Appearance On “Meet The Press,” Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) “Seem[ed] Less Than Enthusiastic About The Potential Pick” Of Chuck Hagel For Secretary Of Defense Stating That The Nomination President Obama’s Decision. “While Schumer (D-N.Y.) did not openly attack Hagel during an appearance on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press,’ he did seem less than enthusiastic about the potential pick. Asked if the president should nominate Hagel given the controversy surrounding a possible nomination, Schumer said the decision was up to Obama. ‘That’s his choice.’” (Jennifer Epstein, “Schumer Hesitant On Hagel,” Politico, 12/23/12)

  • When Asked If He Would Support Hagel’s Nomination, Schumer Said, “I’m Not Going To Comment Until The President Makes A Nomination.” “ Pressed by host David Gregory on whether he could support Hagel, Schumer reserved judgment. ‘I’d have to study his record,’ he said. ‘I’m not going to comment until the president makes a nomination.’” (Jennifer Epstein, “Schumer Hesitant On Hagel,” Politico, 12/23/12)

#3: Future New Jersey Senate Candidate Cory Booker (D-NJ) Expressed His Concerns Over Chuck Hagel’s Anti-Israel And Anti-Gay Comments

CNN’s Soledad O’Brien: “Do you worry about some of the things-the ‘Jewish lobby.’ He didn’t say the Israel lobby- the Jewish lobby. He talked about a diplomat being ‘aggressively gay’-whatever that means- Iran and sanctions.”

Booker: “I consider myself a strong advocate for equality issues and it’s something that hurts me deeply that I still live in a nation that has a second-class citizenship for people based on who they love. So, does it concern me, yes? Do I think that focusing on Israel actually is focusing on the security of the United States of America as our democratic partner in that region? Yeah, these are things that concern me. But I actually know the president.”

(CNN’s "Starting Point," 1/7/13)

#4: House Foreign Affairs Committee Member Rep. Elliot Engel (D-NY): Chuck Hagel Has An “Endemic Hostility Toward Israel”:

Foreign Policy’s Josh Rogin: “And you mention his votes, there are two sets of things that have come up. One is the fact that he declined to sign some letters in the Senate that were related to issues relating to the Middle East, but the other one is that he has voted against sanctions, specifically against sanctions against Iran and Libya. He has expressed the view that perhaps containment might be an option for Iran. This doesn’t seem to be totally in line with either the President’s policy or recent votes in the Senate that overwhelmingly supported more pressure on Iran. What’s your view on that?”

Rep. Elliot Engel (D-NY): “Well I think those things are all true, and plus it seems there is some kind of endemic hostility toward Israel and that’s troublesome for me and for lot of other people. You know, obviously, he served in the Senate for a number of years and he’s done many good things, but I think in the sensitive post of Secretary of Defense those are warning bells, those are red lights. I think that it’s potentially troublesome.”

(CSPAN’s “Newsmakers,” 12/23/12)

#5: Former Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA): Hagel Had “Aggressively Bigoted Opposition” To Richard Hormel Nomination:

Barney Frank Stated That He Could Not Foresee How Chuck Hagel’s “Aggressively Bigoted Opposition” To An Openly Gay Ambassador “Would Not Be An Obstacle To A Major Presidential Appointment.” “Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) has come out against Chuck Hagel’s potential nomination as the next secretary of defense, due to the Nebraska senator’s past derogatory comments about a gay ambassador. ‘I cannot think of any other minority group in the U.S. today where such a negative statement and action made in 1998 would not be an obstacle to a major Presidential appointment,’ Frank said in a statement. Moreover, he argued, the ‘aggressively bigoted opposition’ to the ambassador was not ‘an aberration’ but part of a record of voting against gay rights.” (Rachel Weiner, “Barney Frank Opposes Hagel For Defense Secretary,” The Washington Post, 12/31/12)

#6: House Intelligence Committee Member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA): There Are Serious Questions Hagel Needs To Answer, Legitimate Concerns:

Schiff: “But it will be interesting. You know, I think that Chuck Hagel is going to be a challenging choice in the terms of the confirmation process. Clearly, a combat vet, well regarded. I mean, the man has shrapnel still in his chest. Will be very helpful in terms of the drawdown in Afghanistan. At the same time, legitimate questions about Iran, about Israel, a lot of concern, legitimate concern over the comments he made about Hormel. So, he has a lot of serious questions to answer, and looks like a challenging couple of months ahead of us.”

MSNBC’s Chris Jansing: “If you had a vote do you know how you would vote?”

Schiff: “I don’t. I would really want to hear what he has to say about the Iran/Libya Sanctions Act, about some of the comments that he’s made about the pro-Israel lobby as well as the very concerning comments he made about Mr. Hormel. So, those are legitimate questions. He’s going to need to have very good answers to them. But, plainly on the positive side he would be of enormous value to the President in the drawdown from Afghanistan, in the reduction of the defense budget, having an ally that he trusts on both those questions, and the American people would have confidence in could be a real asset. But these questions that have been raised are quite legitimate, and I want to have the answers myself before I take any position on his nomination.”

(MSNBC’s “Jansing And Co,” 1/7/13)