What Democrats Are Saying

Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY): ”I’d have to study his record…I’m not going to comment until the president makes a nomination.”

Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT): “I think this will be a very tough confirmation process, I don’t how it would end, but there are reasonable questions to ask and Chuck Hagel would have to answer.”

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT): “I know there are some questions about his past comments and I’ll want to talk to him and see what his explanation is,” said Connecticut Democrat Richard Blumenthal. “Yes, it would give rise to question, but there are so many very significant issues and factors to be considered, and he has many profoundly significant qualifications for the job.”

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA): “Any comment that undermines our relationship [with Israel] concerns me,” said Bob Casey of Pennsylvania. Asked if the reference to the “Jewish lobby” is such a statement, Casey said, “Sure, yes.”

Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI): Michigan’s Carl Levin said he does not agree with Hagel’s view. “I don’t think it’s an appropriate statement,” Levin said.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA): And Barbara Boxer of California said she disagreed with the idea that there exists an intimidating “Jewish lobby” in Washington. “People can say whatever they want,” Boxer said. “I don’t agree with it.”

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY)“It seems there is some kind of an endemic hostility towards Israel and that’s troublesome to me and troublesome to a lot of people,” Engel said. “In the sensitive post of secretary of defense, those are warning bells. Those are red lights.”

Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV): “From his lack of support for policies to isolate Iran going back to 2001 to his calls for the U.S. to directly negotiate with Hamas terrorists, I’m troubled by former U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel’s tarnished record on Middle East policies.  This includes his votes against tougher sanctions on Libya and Iran, a nation that continues to seek nuclear weapons and to call for Israel’s destruction.  “I would also hope that Former Senator Hagel’s past support for protecting the interests of terrorist groups over the interests of Israel — America’s most reliable ally — would raise red flags.  The bottom line is that Chuck Hagel’s dismal record on issues affecting the Middle East stands in sharp contrast to the stated policies of our nation and he would be the wrong choice for America’s next Secretary of Defense.”

Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA): “Then-Senator Hagel’s aggressively bigoted opposition to President Clinton’s naming the first openly gay Ambassador in U.S. history was not, as Sen. Hagel now claims, an aberration. He voted consistently against fairness for LGBT people and there does not seem to be any evidence prior to his effort to become Secretary of Defense of any apology or retraction of his attack on James Hormel…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.”

Obama for America Director of Jewish Outreach Ira Forman: “If [Hagel] was taking a policy role, we’d have real concerns.”

Alan Dershowitz“Were Chuck Hagel to be nominated as secretary of defense, the Iranian mullahs would interpret President Obama’s decision as a signal that the military option was now, effectively, off the table. It would encourage them to proceed with their development of nuclear weapons without fear of an attack from the United States. It would tell them that if they can endure the pain of sanctions and continue the charade of negotiations, they will ultimately be allowed to win the prize of a deliverable nuclear bomb.

Former DNC Communications Director Karen Finney: MSNBC contributor Karen Finney criticized the potential nomination of former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel to secretary of defense, calling the lack of diversity in nominating Hagel and Sen. John Kerry (D., Mass.) to key cabinet positions “not a smart strategic decision.”

 

Former NYC Mayor Ed Koch: “I believe it would be a terrible appointment,” he said, “and so do apparently most of the Jewish leaders who have expressed themselves.”

What Republicans Are Saying

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX): [H]e would actively oppose Mr. Hagel, a Republican from Nebraska, should President Barack Obama nominate him to the top Pentagon job. Mr. Cornyn predicted many members of his caucus would join him in moving to block Mr. Hagel.  “Some of Sen. Hagel’s positions would either render America weaker or create ambiguity in regard to our role in maintaining security and peace,” Sen. Cornyn said. “He has taken positions I think are outside the mainstream and are atypical, even of this administration.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL): The office of Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) is threatening to place a hold on former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, should he be nominated for the post of Secretary of Defense.  In a statement to the Washington Free Beacon, Rubio communications director Alex Conant said, “Promoting democracy in Latin America is a priority for Sen. Rubio, and he’s put holds on other administration nominees over the issue. If President Obama were to nominate Sen. Hagel for a cabinet position, I’m sure we would have questions about Cuba positions.”

Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC): 1) “I like Chuck, but his positions … are really out of the mainstream and well to the left of the president. I think it would be a challenging nomination.” 2) “I can tell you there would be very little Republican support for his nomination, at the end of the day, very few votes.”

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH): “While he has not yet been nominated, I am concerned about his prior positions with regard to Israel and Iran,” she said. “If he is nominated to serve as Secretary of Defense, I intend to vigorously question him on those prior positions.”

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ): John McCain of Arizona said he “strongly disagree[s]” with Hagel’s comments on the “Jewish lobby.”  “I know of no ‘Jewish lobby,’” McCain said. “I know that there’s strong support for Israel here. I know of no ‘Jewish lobby.’ I hope he would identify who that is.”

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK): “ I cannot vote for Chuck Hagel…simply because of some of the positions he’s taken and statements he’s [made]. … He does not have the experience to manage a very large organization like the Pentagon.”

Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR): “Though his record on Iraq alone should disqualify Mr. Hagel from leading our troops in a time of war, his views on current issues are no less alarming and show he has not learned from his errors. Unlike the current secretary of defense, Mr. Hagel seems willing to accept devastating cuts to defense spending, calling the U.S. military ‘bloated’ and in need of being ‘pared down.’… While Mr. Obama has every right to choose his secretary of defense, I urge him not to nominate Mr. Hagel. If he is nominated, I urge the Senate not to confirm him.”

The Log Cabin Republicans“Chuck Hagel: Wrong on gay rights. Wrong on Iran. Wrong on Israel,” the ad continues. “Tell President Obama that Chuck Hagel is wrong for Defense Secretary.”

What The Opinion Leaders Are Saying

The Washington Post: Mr. Hagel’s stated positions on critical issues, ranging from defense spending to Iran, fall well to the left of those pursued by Mr. Obama during his first term — and place him near the fringe of the Senate that would be asked to confirm him.

The Wall Street JournalMr. Obama can do better than Mr. Hagel—for example, by choosing former Defense Under Secretary Michele Flournoy, or perhaps Colin Powell. If he does nominate Mr. Hagel, the Senate will have to prevent the Administration’s senior security ranks from being dominated by a flock of doves who think the world is better off with a militarily weaker America.

WSJ Columnist Bret StephensPrejudice—like cooking, wine-tasting and other consummations—has an olfactory element. When ChuckHagel, the former GOP senator from Nebraska who is now a front-runner to be the next secretary of Defense, carries on about how “the Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here,” the odor is especially ripe.

Bill Kristol: “An awful lot of Democrats I am told are quietly telling the White House, what are you doing to us?”

ADL President Abe Foxman“Chuck Hagel would not be the first, second, or third choice for the American Jewish community’s friends of Israel.  His record relating to Israel and the U.S.-Israel relationship is, at best, disturbing, and at worst, very troubling.   The sentiments he’s expressed about the Jewish lobby border on anti-Semitism in the genre of professors John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt and former president Jimmy Carter.”

AJC Executive Director David Harris: “The first AJC encounter with Sen. Hagel I recall was when we sought his support, in 1999, for a Senate letter to then Russian President Boris Yeltsin urging action against rising anti-Semitism. We were unsuccessful. On June 20, 1999, we published the letter as a full-page ad in The New York Times with 99 Senate signatories. Only Sen. Hagel’s name was absent.  Our concern then has only grown since, as we have witnessed his stance on a range of core U.S. national security priorities.”

White House Project Founder Marie Wilson: “There is no doubt that the woman knows her business.  It’s Defense — the area where we have the slowest movement of women into top positions.  It would be a breakthrough.”

National Review’s Rich Lowry“At the core of his foreign policy is disdain for Israel and unquenchable desire to talk to terrorists. His realism is a pastiche of attitudes fashionable at Council on Foreign Relations meetings or the World Economic Forum in Davos, crystalized into an idée fixe lacking all nuance or true thoughtfulness.”