Former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) delivered a shaky performance at his confirmation hearing to lead the Pentagon while enduring a difficult day of grilling by his former Republican colleagues.
Hagel stumbled over some answers — describing Iran as having a “legitimate, elected government” at one point — and did little to convert critics who have deemed him unfit to serve as Defense secretary because of his past statements and positions.
Conservative groups jumped on several of his answers by releasing videos critical of his comments on Iran and his statement supporting President Obama’s policy of “containment.” Hagel later had to clarify both of those statements.
GOP senators showed up for a fight, ripping the former senator’s past statements, including his comment that the “Jewish lobby” intimidated people in Washington.
Hagel was frequently forced during a hearing that ran on for more than eight hours to say that he “regretted” his past statements, such as when Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) brought up Hagel’s statement that Israel kept Palestinians “caged up like animals.”