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.”