Tom Coburn: I wouldn’t vote to confirm Hagel

December 30, 2012

Sen. Tom Coburm (R-Okla.) would not vote to confirm former Nebraska Republican senator Chuck Hagel if President Obama nominates him to become secretary of defense, Coburn said on Sunday morning. 

Coburn said on CBS News's "Face The Nation," that Hagel lacks "the experience to manage a large orginization like the Pentagon." And without delving into specifics, the senator said that some of the positions Hagel has taken are also problematic. 

Obama hasn't made a final decision about whom he will nominate, the president said in an interview on NBC News's "Meet The Press," even as he defended Hagel's record, calling the former senator a "patriot."

Hagel has come under criticism from Republicans who have been turned off by his opposition to the Iraq War and sanctions against Iran, among other things. Gay rights groups have also criticized the former senator for a 1998 remark he made about the prospect of an openly gay ambassador. Hagel has since retracted the remark, an decision that was well-received by the nation's largest gay rights group. 

Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the upper chamber's second ranking Democrat, said on the same program as Coburn that Hagel "at least deserves a hearing and an opportunity."

Sean Sullivan covers national politics for “The Fix.”
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Sean Sullivan | December 30, 2012