Little enthusiasm among GOP for Hagel, but he has Obama's support
President Barack Obama said he saw nothing that would disqualify former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel from being nominated for US defense secretary. However, some Republicans have expressed doubts about Hagel's positions on Iran and Israel.
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Some of Israel's leading U.S. supporters contend that Hagel at times opposed Israel's interests, voting several times against U.S. sanctions on Iran, and made disparaging remarks about the influence of what he called a "Jewish lobby" in Washington.Skip to next paragraph
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Obama, who has strained relations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has faced questions of his own from the American Jewish community about his approach to the U.S. ally.
Obama said Hagel was doing an "outstanding job" serving on an intelligence advisory board and gave no indication on when he would make his final decision about the defense chief job.
The president has already backed down once from a contentious nomination, choosing Democratic Senator John Kerry to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state rather than going with his presumed first choice, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, whom many Republicans opposed after she made controversial remarks about the Sept. 11 attacks on a U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans.