Growing opposition among senators to nominating former Nebraska Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense is convincing President Barack Obama to look for alternatives, media in the United States reported Monday.
Retiring Sen. Joe Lieberman told CNN the issue is not much that if he is anti-Israel as is Hagel's previous opposition to tough sanctions against Iran, in direct opposition to President Obama’s latest policy.
“The Republicans are going to ask him hard questions, and I don’t think he’s going to get many Republican votes,” Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a member of the Armed Services Committee, told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” on Sunday. “I think it would be a challenging nomination.”
Graham said Hagel’s positions “are really out of the mainstream and well to the left of the president.”
The White House unofficially has said that Hagel is the prime candidate, but even Democrats in the Senate are reluctant to publicly endorse him at this time. Sen. Charles Schumer of New York was non-committal and told NBC, "I'd have to study his record."
The possibility of Hagel's replacing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is particularly alarming to pro-Israel groups.
"The appointment of Chuck Hagel would be a slap in the face for every American who is concerned about the safety of Israel," said Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition.
Hagel also got not trouble four years ago for stating, "The Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here."
However, the issues of the war in Iraq and Hagel’s views on homosexuality are just as likely to dump him from being nominated.
Hagel, 14 years ago, said of an openly homosexual ambassador, "It is an inhibiting factor to be gay." Last Friday, Hagel apologized for his remarks, which he said were “insensitive.”
Obama reportedly is considering Undersecretary of State Michele Flourney to become the first woman hold the position of Defense Secretary.