PoliticsNation | January 07, 2013
>> today, the president officially nominated his choice for defense secretary . vietnam veteran and former gop senator chuck hagel of nebraska. already, republicans are signaling a major fight over his nomination. they apparently think the president should have the right to pick his own team, even though hagel has all the qualifications for the job.
>> chuck hagel is the leader that our troops deserve. this day, chuck bears the scars and the shrapnel from battles he fought in our name. chuck hagel 's leadership of our military would be historic. he would be the first person of enlisted rank to serve as secretary of defense. one of the few secretary who is have been wounded in war. and the first vietnam veteran to lead the department. in chuck hagel , our troops see a decorated combat veteran of character and strength. they see one of their own.
>> hagel was twice awarded the purple heart , a two-term senator who served on the foreign relations committee and co-chair of president obama 's intelligence advisory award.
>> mr. president, i'm grateful for this opportunity to serve our country again. and especially its men and women in uniform and their families. these are people who give so much to this nation every day with such dignity and sellessness.
>> already, hagel is getting support from both sides of the aisle. former secretary of state colin powell says i wholeheartedly endorse president obama 's nomination for former senator chuck hagel to be the next secretary of defense. senator hagel is well qualified with his broad experience in national security affairs. he's the president's choice. he's clearly a qualified candidate. but, yet, again, republicans are attacking one of the president's pick. and this time, they're turning their backs on one of their own. senator lindsey graham says he's out of the mainstream. john mccain says he has serious concerns about hagel 's views on national kurt. and senate minority leader promises hagel a lot of tough questions. many of these same -- now, they're propgsing a big fight to oppose his nomination. but, in the end, will the president get his man? joining me now is retired general wesley, former nato commander now chairman and ceo of wesley clark and associates. and former pennsylvania governor , ed rendell now an nbc news analyst. doesn't the president get to pick his own team? or has something changed?
>> absolutely he's going to pick his own chief. the right wing is lining up to fight him and there may be some votes against him. i think when chuck hagel gets on the hill and he talks to senators one-on-one and gets in groups and they have to face one of their own former colleagues, a man who's got experience, sound judgment, compassion, everything needed to be a great secretary and member of the president's candidate.
>> but, general, i mean, why are we seeing this lack of acceptance of the president's team? you had susan rice , you've had all of these way out attacks on the attorney genric holder. are they trying this with hagel ? why is it no matter what this president nominates, they find a reason to fight it.
>> i think this is the next front, you know. they didn't do so well on the fiscal cliff. now they've got to find another partisan opening. i think it's a partisan attack. i think it's designed to help them raise money to strengthen their party's position from the mainstream position of the president.
>> governor, when you look at john mccane, for example, john mccain says he has concerns about hagel 's positions on national security issues today. but in 2006 , when he was plotting a run for the presidency, mccain said i'd be honored to have chuck with me in any capacity. he'd make a great secretary of state. same john mccain . mitch mcconnell who says there will be tough questions for hagel .
>>> is john mccain just a bitter man because president obama beat him and he's just bitter and keeps attacking whatever the president does and mitch mcconnell is still trying to live up to his saying that will make him a one-term president and in the second term, he's still trying to ruin the obama presidency?
>> i think this is all a question of sour grapes . you said it first. leaving aside chuck hagel 's qualifications, and he's as fine a man that ever served in the senate, number one. number two, not all of the good thing that is you dlelineated and the president delineated, but he's probably done the most in the history of the senate. he's been e norronormously effective. i think guys like me who entered the army as privates, that warms our heart all over. he's a great pick. what you said correctly, reverend sharpton, wlen you said the president has the right to pick his own team. it's always been the tradition in america. unless there's something grievously wrong with an individual, or unless that individual is clearly unqualified, the president gets to pick his own team. that's whether it's a republican president or a democratic president. i disagree with my good friend, general clark, who's usually as bright as anybody in the business when he says that they're bithey building their own ramp. maybe that's what they're trying to do, but it's going to backfire terribly. the american people are going to turn on them if they try to derail chuck hagel . the first enlisted man ever. great credentials. i think this will backfire enormously. you can't be bitter. you've got to be gracious winners and gracious losers.
>> you know, governor u former senator max cleveland, a captain in the vietnam war , and he said about the appointment of chuck hagel to defense and john kerry to state. he said it could change american foreign policy in our stance on war. let me read to you what he said, general.
>> it's a great statement. and i think it's a really important insight that needs to be brought front and center for the american people . both john kerry they are not going to be people to rush to commit america to conflict without knowing how to finish the job that we've started. they're going to carefully look at when our troops are committed. they're going to look at the objectives, the constraints and the best decisions.
>> now, governor, they have tried to raise some controversy about statements he made many years ago and all of us in the public who are going through that. his positions on israel saying the political reality is that the jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here. but in the same interview, he said this, listen.
>> and went onto say he supported the state of israel and supported whatever this country allies, something to that effect. will they be able to use these statements, despite the fact that they praised them since they were made to try and undermine this nomination.
>> chuck hagel voted for $38 billion in foreign aid and defense aid to go to the state of israel . $38 billion over his senate career and his career on the senate foreign relations committee . that's a fact. i know there's some people in our party who are upset about an ambassador that was openly gay . well, the human rights committee has issued a statement saying they accept his apology. they forgive him and they understand how far he's come. they forgive him. that's good enough for the human rights committee . it's good enough for everyone in the united states senate , as well.
>> we're going to leave it there. thank you both for your time tonight.
>> good night.
>> thank you, al, good to be with you.
>> good to be with you. coming up, speaker boehner says he needs his job like a hole in the head . that's a funny way to celebrate re-election. just what is the speaker up to. we'll have that story. and the tea party gets even more unpopular. so gop has an answer. tea party favorite ted cruz , the new extremism of the republicans newest star. plus, hillary clinton gets a big surprise on her first day back to work since being hospitalized. here's a hint. it wasn't an apology from the fix losers. you're watching "politics nation" only on the place for politics, msnbc. [ male