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Republican Chuck Hagel Backs Joe Sestak

Former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, above, has endorsed Democrat Joe Sestak in the Pennsylvania Senate race. AP

Former Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel is breaking from his party to endorse Rep. Joe Sestak in the Pennsylvania Senate race.

The two-term Nebraska senator will join the Sestak campaign for rallies in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia tomorrow, the campaign announced today, to "speak about Joe's independence and focus on doing what's right for Pennsylvania's working families."

"I think he's exactly what our country needs more of," Hagel said about Sestak, speaking to the Associated Press. "I think he's what the Senate needs more of courageous, independent thinking. That's what the job is about. You are supposed to use your judgment."

Both Hagel and Sestak are military veterans. Hagel is currently co-chair of President Obama's Intelligence Advisory Board and in the 2008 presidential elections, he declined to support Republican candidate, Sen. John McCain.

Hagel's endorsement is the second Sestak has received from a prominent politician outside of the Democratic party -- last week, independent New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg gave him his support.

Sestak has lagged in recent polls behind his Republican competitor, former Rep. Pat Toomey, in the race to replace outgoing Sen. Arlen Specter. Specter jumped from the Republican party to the Democratic party last year in an attempt to save his seat in Congress but lost to Sestak in the Democratic primary. Special Report: Campaign 2010

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