Martin Bashir | January 07, 2013
>> referee: we begin on a busy monday afternoon in washington , and the president has dared republicans to make good on their threats to oppose his nomination for defense secretary . chuck hagel is the leader our troops deserve said the president. just a short time ago at the white house , the president officially announced his long awaited picks for the two top security posts, counterterrorism adviser john brennan to lead the cia and most controversially, former republican senator chuck hagel to defense.
>> to this day chuck bears the scars and the shrapnel from battles he fought in our name.
>> hagel 's biggest detractors come from within his own republican party . members of which were on air with criticism of the former senator within seconds of the news conference ending.
>> he's profoundly wrong on a number of the most important national security issue that is face our country today, like denying iran nuclearweapons, like direct face-to-face negotiations with state department designated terrorist organizations like hamas, and calling in to question our commitment to our principal ally in the middle east , israel.
>> for the latest, we go to nbc's luke russert live for us on capitol hill . luke, we've heard the cacophony of attacks on chuck hagel from senators to political commentators like bill chrystal.
>> reporter: president obama to use a cliche we say in washington , d.c. , all too often is doubling down on chuck hagel . he was hung out to dry for a long time because essentially has a man without a party. he's a republican who bucked his own party and he's not someone who has necessarily been liked by democrats his entire career but honestly when you talk to folks close to the white house and understand obama's thinking, they say this is the type of guy he likes because here is someone that's going to be in charge of a defense department where they will want to draw down operations in afghanistan as well as cut costs. who better to do that than a decorated hero and combat soldier from the vietnam era who might i add be the first combat veteran to ever be head of dod, who better to do that job than somebody who has bucked their own party, who often chooses the hard right over the easy wrong as one aide put it to me than chuck hagel .
>> yet senator lindsey graham says this is an in your face nomination, that it's something like the president simply spoiling for some kind of unnecessary fight?
>> reporter: and many democrats could say the same thing out of a bunch of nominees during the bush administration 's time. i can think of gonzalez and john bolton who both elicited a lot of days dane from democrats.
>> some would say that was justifiable disdain. some of these allegations of anti-semitism sound to me like character assassination.
>> reporter: as always there's some concern about mr. hagel 's comments regarding homosexuals back in the late '90s all these disavowed those. the president is really saying 332 electoral votes , i won the election by 4 million. my second term, here is what i want to do. i'm going to get it done. i don't necessarily care about a little bit of sniping from republicans. remember, martin --
>> but, luke, he's not just saying that, is he? he's also saying this man is very well-qualified for this position. that's what he's saying.
>> reporter: well, i don't think anyone doubts that. i don't think if you look at the accomplishments of chuck hagel that the president would ever nominate someone who he didn't feel was accomplished enough to be there. i think the attacks on hagel are coming, again, because he's been this guy in washington , d.c. which is the most dangerous place to be, which is no not have an ideological peer base. who are the people who are often eviscerated easiest? the moderates because they don't have the folks coming to their aid like you see on the far left and far right which so often defines how these battles go down to washington , d.c.
>> and then we've had the great eric cantor saying, chuck hagel is the wrong man for the job at such a pivotal time. unfortunately, mr. cantor doesn't get to vote. nbc's luke russert --
>> he doesn't get to vote because he's in the how many times but he's a significant voice being the only jewish republican elected lawmaker here in washington .
>> luke russert , thank you. for