Mitchell Reports | February 27, 2013
>>> we renew old alliances. we reach out and find new alliances based on the common interest of people. there will be differences. we have great power and how we apply our power is particularly important. that engagement in the world should be done wisely.
>> defense secretary chuck hagel on his first day on the job. did the bruising confirmation battle hurt him in the pentagon? an opponent to hagel. thanks for joining us today.
>> glad to be with you, thank you.
>> now that he's sworn in, what would you like to see as you monitor how he does at the pentagon?
>> you know, let me say this, andrea, i view this as yesterday's story. we made a good case that this was a flawed candidate. he's my secretary and yours. i wish him well. as a matter of fact, the first thing i want to do under sequestration is give the secretary of defense and the president of the united states the flexibility under the overall cap to move money around and make the sequestration cuts as painless and less disruptive as possible.
>> well, do you think that the confirmation battle weakened him and do you have any regrets about the way that confirmation battle was undertaken by his critics?
>> i think we made an honorable case. i still believe his pronouncements and positions over time put him way outside the bipartisan foreign policy mainstream but the president was able to hold his democratic votes, even among people who would tell me one-on-one that they had real concerns. the president was able to hold his votes. senator hagel was confirmed and now i wish him well. i hope he's a very, very success successful secretary.
>> shouldn't the critics have checked their facts first before asking if he deposited money in group that is didn't exist? wasn't there a lot of red baiting and other kinds of, really unfair questions asked in a public forum .
>> i'll let people characterize those. i think i asked some very serious and substantive questions about his positions on iran, his positions with regard to israel. i know there were a lot of friends with israel in the juish and christian communities that were concerned about that. so, for my part, i thought most of the debate, almost all of it was appropriate and quite frankly showed real flaws. andrea, i'm moving on from that. i want this secretary to have a good department of defense and to have the flexibility pursuant to votes today and tomorrow to make those across the board sequestration cuts less harmful.
>> the new secretary of state promised the syrian opposition leaders they would get more help and persuaded them to come meet him tomorrow. how much should we be
>> islamists have now having infiltrated the opposition movement.
>> that's always a concern, yes. no question it's a concern, but this has gone on too long. the assad regime needs to fall because assad needs to leave and i think skmoer more they are coming to that conclusion. we can use the power and influence we have with the state department and taking the advice of the professionals in the pentagon to do just that.
>> senator, thank you very much. thanks for being with us.
>> thank you very much.