John McCain has ‘frank and candid’ meeting with Chuck Hagel

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) met Tuesday with former Sen. Chuck Hagel ahead of the former senator's confirmation hearing next week to serve as President Obama's next defense secretary.

FILE - In this March 28, 2012 file photo, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. listens during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. McCain said in an interview posted online Friday that "foreign money" was helping fellow Republican Mitt Romney's presidential hopes and singled out one of his ally's most generous supporters. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File) (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

McCain confirmed to reporters Tuesday that they met, said he and his former colleague are "old friends" and that they had a "frank and candid" exchange. But McCain wouldn't say whether the meeting helped him make a final decision.

"We discussed my concerns, we'll be talking more about them in the hearing," McCain said.

Obama formally nominated Hagel for the Pentagon post two weeks ago, a decision that set up a fight with Senate Republicans opposed to the former two-term senator's views on security issues related to Israel and Iran. When he served on Capitol Hill, Hagel called for direct talks with the Iranian government, opposed unilateral sanctions by the United Sta

tes against Iran and later spoke out against the U.S. war in Iraq.

Hagel is making the rounds on Capitol Hill ahead of his Jan. 31 confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He earned key support last week when Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) -- the chamber's most senior Jewish lawmaker -- announced his full support for Hagel after the two discussed Schumer's lingering concerns.

Follow Ed O'Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost

Ed O’Keefe is covering the 2016 presidential campaign, with a focus on Jeb Bush and other Republican candidates. He's covered presidential and congressional politics since 2008. Off the trail, he's covered Capitol Hill, federal agencies and the federal workforce, and spent a brief time covering the war in Iraq.

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Rosalind S. Helderman · January 22, 2013

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