A gay Republican group has taken out a full page ad in the New York Times criticizing former senator Chuck Hagel and declaring him unfit to serve as secretary of defense.
Hagel, a former Republican senator from Nebraska, is considered a top potential nominee to replace current Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. In the ad, the Log Cabin Republicans call Hagel "Wrong on gay rights, wrong on Iran, wrong on Israel.”
“Tell President Obama that Chuck Hagel is wrong for Defense Secretary. Help us create a stronger and more inclusive Republican Party,” the ad concludes.
In 1998, Hagel questioned whether an “openly aggressively gay” nominee could be an effective U.S. ambassador, a comment that led gay rights groups to voice doubt about his nomination. That quote is featured in the New York Times ad. Hagel apologized and retracted the comment last week, and the Human Rights Campaign welcomed him as an ally of the gay community.
Hagel, who left the Senate in 2008, is already under fire from some conservative Israel supporters and Jewish advocacy groups for his past opposition to some Iran sanctions, openness to talks with Hamas and criticism in an interview of the power wielded by the "Jewish lobby."
Republican senators have argued that Hagel will face a tough confirmation process. While Hagel served with many of them in the Senate, he has made enemies with his outspoken opposition to the war in Iraq as well as his recent endorsements of Democrats in competitive races. Hagel may also face opposition from some Demcorats; Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) was non-committal when asked about the nomination Sunday.