Mitchell Reports | January 07, 2013
>> us now is john cornyn , one of the sharpest, strongest critics of chuck hagel , and a former colleague. senator cornyn, why do you think tom pickering , ambassador pickering , doesn't have this right?
>> well, i think it's not a matter of personalities. i've known chuck haling. he is an honorable man. he has had a record of distinguished service, but he is profoundly wrong on a number of the most important national security issues that face our country today, like denying iran nuclear weapons, like direct face-to-face negotiations with state department designated terrorist organizations like hamas, and calling into question our commitment to our principle ally in the middle east , israel. those are three things that strike me as senator hagel being out of the mainstream, and i believe just wrong when it comes to protecting the national security of the united states .
>> colin powell has just endorsed him within the last half hour, saying that he is bold, he is independent, he is the right person for the pentagon. colin powell no slouch when it comes to being tough on iran .
>> well, as you know, washington d.c. is a pretty tight little click, and there's a lot of people who have had long established relationships and, of course, they're going to support their friends. i think we have to step outside of the personalities and those relationships to look at the policies. on the policies that i mentioned senator hagel , i believe, is out of the mainstream. many people have questioned his commitment to making sure that iran does not get nuclear weapons . that's the single biggest national security challenge we have. i have to take a different point of view than ambassador pickering and others. it is not the department of defense 's job to worry about the job that congress has to protect our country from the fiscal standpoint. that is the number one threat to the u.s. is mounting debt but the commander in chief seems disinterested in dealing with that but on iran , on direct face to face negotiations with terrorist organizations like hamas and questioning our commitment to israel, our principle ally in the middle east , chuck hagel is clearly outside of the mainstream and even in contradicts this administration's own stated policies in many respects.
>> senator, does chuck hagel need to get 51 votes or 60 votes or might someone like yourself put a block on this?
>> i think it's premature to talk about that process. what i think he deserves and he is going to get is a full and fair hearing. the president does his job by nominating his chosen individual, but then, the senate has a separate constitutional responsibility. we are going to give senator hagel a full chance to defend his stance and i think that are going to cause concerns on a bipartisan basis.
>> finally before i let you go, i know you were in charge of the campaign committee and republicans elected. is part of this the fact that he supported his former colleague bob kerry , a medal of honor winner and fellow former vietnam veteran who lost his leg in vietnam, is that part of this with you?
>> not at all.
>> it's clear that chuck hagel left the republican party endorsing president obama in 2008 but this isn't politics or personalities. this is about being wrong on the principle national security issues that confront our country today and his lack of suitability for being the head of our national security apparatus at the pentagon.
>> john cornyn , thank you very much for coming on and staying with us through the long white house ceremony. we really do appreciate that.