msnbc | January 31, 2013
>> i believe, and i always have believed, that america must engage in the world, not retreat from the world but engage from the world. my record is consistent on 0 these points.
>> even after meetings with dozens of senators over the last few weeks, hagel still fielded a volley of questions from members of the senate armed services committee .
>> my time will expire, others are going to ask as to why you did this. i was asking for the accuracy. if you don't want to answer that, that's fine.
>> i just said i did vote against it and i was going to explain why i voted against it.
>> and they'll be asking you for your explanation. i want to get to three other 0 things and that's why it's critical we keeping moving along here.
>> today's hearing comes after a neocon campaign on the airwaves against hagel 's nomination and after a vigorous defense of the president's cabinet choices from vice president joe biden .
>> to suggest that two war heroes , a bronze star , a purple heart , silver star , taking over both the state department and defense is -- whatever the phrase was -- is ridiculous.
>> joining me now from washington is nbc news capitol hill correspondent kelly o'donnell. kelly , as we look at this, this has been a big morning. everybody has been waiting for this. "the washington post " out with the headline, hagel has waged a charm offensive. he's been in meetings with senators for weeks now. was there a sense of anticipation this morning because hagel is now on record defending himself publicly for the first time.
>> reporter: these hearings really do play a very important part in the process, thomas, because while they have had meetings, and you'll find that other cabinet nominees are doing the same thing, we don't talk about it a whole lot, they go around and have private conversations with senators because senators ultimately cast the vote on whether they get those cabinet positions but a hearing like this is important because it does put the nominee on the hot seat. it does give the committee an opportunity to challenge any nominee. what's interesting today is that chuck hagel was one of them. he served two terms for nebraska as a republican and, so far, what we've seen that earlier clip as jim inhofe of oklahoma is coming out against the hagel nomination and a lot of the krit criticism from republicans has been focused on some past positions that hagel has had, that they believe were not strong enough in support of israel and, in their view, too soft on iran. so they are challenging him on votes and that's part of what happens. if you have a record in public life , that's what people will scrutinize in part to try to get a sense who would you be in this new job in public life ? it is an important part of the process . we expect there will be back and forth, some tension. because they put a clock on it and limit the amount of time that senators can question, you get some of that tension about h hurry up, we need to move on, that can look abrupt and rough. not always intended to be that way. but it's a big day for hagel who is trying to convince some of his fellow republicans he deserves the job. right now there are several who are publicly on the record saying that they are not in support of hagel and about hatch of those are on this committee. very critical for hagel to perform well today and to convince senators that he will represent the president's point of view and that they could be comfortable with him leading the pentagon. thomas?
>> kelly o'donnell reporting for us from d.c.