Morning Joe | February 13, 2013
>>> at 38 past the hour, just hours before the president called for more bipartisanship in his speech last night, members of congress were locked in a bitter fight over the nomination of chuck hagel as the next secretary of defense. in a sharply divided 14-11 vote, the armed services committee sent hagel 's nomination to the senate floor but only after hours of intense debate.
>> we saw, with his nomination, something truly extraordinary, which is the government of iran formally and publicly praising the nomination of a defense secretary . i would suggest to you that to my knowledge, that is unprecedented to see a foreign nation like iran publicly celebrating a nomination.
>> i want to put on the record that this senator feels like that senator cruz has gone over the line. he basically has impugned the patriotism of the nominee in your conclusions, which you are entitled to come to, about him, in essence, about being cozy with iran .
>> my friend, senator nelson, i wrote down the words, criticizing our senator there for implying that chuck hagel was cozy with terrorist-type countries, referring to iran . i'd say he's endorsed by them. you can't get any doze zier than that.
>> i've got to tell you, senator inhofe, be careful because you might have an organization that would endorse you that you find abhorre abhorrent. and then would you have the right to say -- would i have the right to say you are cozy with them? what if some horrible organization said tomorrow that you are the best guy they knew?
>> senator hagel is an honorable man. he has served his country, and no one on this committee, at any time, should impugn his character or his integrity.
>> richard, what ted cruz yesterday was just outrageous. i don't know what his audience is, but it is a very narrow, narrow base. i was stunned. also talking about financial improprieties that he had no evidence of. you have john mccain coming to chuck hagel 's defense.
>> good for john mccain .
>> good for john mccain . you have stepped over the line.
>> there's been a pattern with the hagel debate of people going beyond legitimate public debate . we saw it on the charges of anti-semitism. now illegal money or whatever. there's a legitimate debate to have about chuck hagel or any other nominee. this is way past that. but there's an irony here. hagel , in part, got this nomination in order to bridge the partisan divide. it was supposed to be someone who would appeal to republicans. instead he gets reported out with a straight party-line vote. no republicans supporting him. this cannot be what anyone in washington intended.
>> i know. john heilemann, i hate to keep bringing him up because i hate bringing up somebody simply for bad behavior, but i'm absolutely flummoxed by ted cruz 's short-term and long-term political strategy. you know, mark halperin told me before he got sworn in, he was a very smart guy , a bright guy, a harvard lawyer. i just don't -- this is a guy that could have such a positive impact on the future of the republican party . he seems to be -- he seems to be going for the head of the sugarland tea party chapter in texas. i just don't get it. these charges yesterday were just beyond the pale . again, john mccain defending hagel because they were so outrageous.
>> i mean, it's kind of grotesque, joe. and i think, you know, you look at the two senators that we pictured just there. john mccain coming to chuck hagel 's defense even though he's been very critical of hagel just in the last couple of weeks. and the person whose side you're on if you're ted cruz is jim inhofe , which is not where you want to be if you want to be a national leader of the republican party . jim inhofe , at the very far right end of the scale from oklahoma. that's not the company you want to keep if you're ted cruz and you want to be a mainstream leader of the republican party . but look, you saw last night, for all of the problems that some of us identify with marco rubio , marco rubio 's a guy who is a tea party -backed senator who now is trying to find his way towards being having a broader appeal. you've got a guy like ted cruz , he has a choice to make. and yesterday, and by all indications so far, he has great pedigree. he could do exactly the same thing and go towards the mainstream, but he doesn't seem like he's doing that. it seems like he's laying his cards down to go to the far right and appeal just to the pure hardcore tea partiers, as you just said.
>> it's a sad statement about the u.s. senate yesterday. fortunately john mccain rescued the body with his comments.
>> and by the way, thank you, senator mccain . that's what washington, kelly, used to be about. nobody can disagree -- nobody could disagree with chuck hagel more than john mccain does. and for good reasons. they have a completely different view of foreign policy , how it should be enacted, especially the middle east , but john mccain had the character to stand up and defend a guy he disagreed with.
>> mccain had said it was the most unimpressive appearance at a hearing when hagel had his confirmation hearing and then came back and gave those remarks in his defense. he also had tried to discourage anybody from walking out of that committee. that was one strategy that was being kicked around. he's against a filibuster. what is so unusual about what ted cruz did as a freshman senator, he does have that harvard law degree, so he was sort of cloaked in all of the ways of sounding proper and formal. but what he was saying did not have any evidence. and he was fearless coming back at more senior senators. i'm told that in some of their private meetings among republicans, they have tried to encourage the new senators like a mike lee , a rand paul, ted cruz to sort of know the ways of how senators deal with each other. speaking to each other in those very personal harsh terms does not happen very often. people think they all don't get along, but usually in these meetings and in these hearings, there's a politeness. and the disagreements are about the ideas, not these personal attacks . it was really unusual to see that.
>> and by the way, i'm always taken by people that are, way to go. way to go up to that senator. there are 100 of them. i recommend for those of you saying you want your senator to go up and insult somebody in this small, small group of 100 people that have to work together every day on guiding this country, why don't you try that at work today? go to somebody in the cubicle right across from you and just berate them.
>> go to the front office .
>> and be nasty. attack them personally. say that they are in bed with terrorists. just do that and see how long you work there. see how much work you get from them in the future. i mean, people are -- ted cruz has blown up bridges. the first month that he's there. and again, i don't know -- i don't know what the long-term strategy is. it's very disturbing to me.
>> he's talking to the tv cameras. i'd like to see senator cruz have the courage -- the courage -- to sit across a table from chuck hagel and ask chuck hagel , tell me the story about the day you got the bronze star .
>> how you got it.
>> okay, ted. line that one up, baby.
>> how he got the bronze star . and then he's accusing him of being a traitor? in effect?
>> kelly o'donnell, thank you very much. thanks for being on the show today.
>> you bet.
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