Graham urges Obama to "reconsider" Hagel nomination

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a member of the Armed Services Committee and the Homeland Security Committee, center, leaves after speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012, following a closed-door meeting with UN Ambassador Susan Rice. at left is fellow Senate Armed Services Committee member Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H. Rice, who could find her name in contention as early as this week to succeed Hillary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state, has been criticized by GOP lawmakers for her comments following the deadly Sept. 11 attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya.
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who has been prolific in his criticism of President Obama's cabinet picks, is formally objecting to the nomination of Chuck Hagel as defense secretary, and is calling on the president's administration to "reconsider" the pick.

Graham, who helped derail U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice's bid to be Secretary of State, questioned Hagel's ability to lead in a statement releasd this morning.

"Chuck Hagel is a good man, but these are dangerous times," he said. "What kind of signal are we sending to the Iranians when our nominee for Secretary of Defense seems clueless about what our policy is? I hope the Obama Administration will reconsider his nomination."

During Hagel's confirmation hearings, he mistakenly referred to the Obama administration's policy on Iran as "containment" before correcting himself. The Obama administration continues to support him and has expressed confidence in his prospects at being confirmed.

Indeed, Hagel appears to be on track for confirmation in the Senate. Five Republican senators have said they will not filibuster his nomination, and no Democrats have signaled that they will vote against him. Assuming all 55 Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents support Hagel, he would have the necessary 60 votes to overcome a filibuster.

Sens. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., and Mike Johanns, R-Neb., have said they will support Hagel's nomination; Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Roy Blunt, R-Mo., meanwhile, have indicated they would vote to end a filibuster even though they do not plan to support his nomination. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, also said she was "not inclined" to support a filibuster.