Mitchell Reports | February 01, 2013
>> joining me to discuss how lawmakers are assessing chuck hagel 's performance yesterday is one of his good friends, rhode island democrat jack reid , one of the strongest supporters of the former senate colleague. senator, thanks so much for being with us. it did not go well. do you know what happened there?
>> well, i was surprised at the tone. as you suggested and your colleague suggested, there are serious issues of national security , of defense budgets. all of that seemed to be relegated to sort of prosecutorial did you say this seven or eight years ago. when the president much the united states turns to the secretary of defense, i doubt if he will be asking what he might have said exactly seven years ago. he will be asking them what is your recommendation about the budget? what's your recommendation about the crisis going forward? chuck hagel will be able to respond based on a lifetime of experience in a way that helps the president make extremely difficult decisions. so i think he stood his ground, and i think he was ready to search as secretary of defense.
>> i wanted to show you a picture that will look like an album from one of your photo albums , because this is you and senator hagel and senator obama then in 2008 in jordan. if we can pull up those pictures.
>> this was the moment in the 2008 campaign when chuck hagel accompanied barack obama and i'm inferring that it was widely viewed that john mccain took umbrage that he felt that this was, even though hagel did not endorse barack obama against john mccain , his old friend and buddy, but this really was a breaking point between the two of them. he felt that it was disloyal.
>> well, i was there with senator hagel . i think one of the reasons that senator obama joined us on the trip was he wanted to get a firsthand impression about iraq and afghanistan, and also, he wanted a perspective from someone who was a republican, clearly republican, but also a combat veteran, someone who had a great feel for the military. i can't speculate about senator mccain 's reaction. i can say, though, john mccain is one of the -- he is serious about all the issues. he is treating this nomination like everything he -- s with great seriousness, and i commend him for that.
>> we're just learning that at least the associated press and the boston globe both reporting that scott brown will not be running for the seat next toor to you in rhode island . what do you think of that, since he was widely viewed as the biggest challenge to a perspective democrat running for that open seat ? of course, the john kerry seat.
>> i -- all politics is local. i'm a little surprised, but i -- my reaction would be that he has made a decision. he knows better than anyone what's it like to serve in the senate, what is it like to run for the senate, and you have to thank him for his service and respect his decision.
>> and back to the hagel situation and what's going to happen at d.o.d. we've been talking here about how his performance, assuming that he does get confirmed, does that weaken him going into the pentagon where there are a lot of sharks ready to attack?
>> no, absolutely not. i think what people recognize in the pentagon is here is someone who is who has been where they've been, been wounded twice, understands the military, not theoretically, not from lectures, but from being there in combat. that gives them tremendous credibility with the uniformed military, and also, i think that the style of listening, the style of having an open mind , the style of engaging that chuck has, and i think that's one of the reasons why the president has nominated him is going to serve him very well in the pentagon. so i think, you know, they might have been watching yesterday, but for the first time they're going to have someone in a long time who is actually served in combat and been wounded in combat.
>> and do you think that he will be confirmed? what are you hearing from your democratic colleagues?
>> i have always felt he is going to be confirmed because, frankly, there are a few people who have been nominated in the position that have combat experience and have been enlisted in had the united states army , business experience as ail successful entrepreneur, experience in the federal government and the second person in charge of the veterans administration , extensive experience with these issues as united states senator , as president of the atlantic council . you are talking about someone who is perhaps not uniquely, but particularly qualified to serve as secretary of defense, and i think kwaul ficks and his willingness to serve the country, again, you know, back in the 1960s he not only volunteered to go to vietnam, but he served there with great distinction. he is someone who is a patriot, and i think in the end of the day that's going to make the difference. his experience, his intellect, and his commitment to the country.
>> and, finally, i don't know if you have heard anything -- any briefing at all on what happened in anchora today with a group that claims to be a left wing group against u.s. forces ? we've deployed forces to run the patriot anti-aircraft batteries, the missile systems there. what do you know about what happened at our embassy?
>> i just know what's been reported that apparently two people have been killed, including the suicide bomber, and that we're taking precautions to protect americans and american diplomatic personnel as we should, but i am just like you waiting to hear more details, particularly what was the motivation, what connections he might have with other organizations?
>> thank you very much, senator reid. thanks for being with us today.