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Add Bob Dole—former senator, former presidential candidate, grievously wounded in World War II—to the list of Republican heavy-hitters urging the Senate to confirm the embattled Chuck Hagel as defense secretary.
“Hagel’s wisdom and courage make him uniquely qualified to be Secretary of Defense and lead the men and women of our armed forces,” Dole said in a statement released by the White House. “Chuck Hagel will be an exceptional leader at an important time.”
Hagel, a decorated Vietnam War veteran and Republican former senator from Nebraska, already had the support of five former secretaries of defense from Republican and Democratic administrations—Bob Gates, Bill Cohen, William Perry, Harold Brown and Melvin Laird. He also enjoyed the support of former Senate Armed Services Committee chairmen Sam Nunn, D-Ga., and John Warner, R-Va.
While it’s not clear what pull Dole retains with his former colleagues, Democrats already appear to have lined up the 60 votes needed to break through another Republican filibuster and definitely have the 51 needed to confirm Hagel as Leon Panetta’s successor. Republican Sen. Richard Shelby announced earlier Thursday that he would support Hagel.
Republicans opposed to Hagel have warned he would waver in the face of Iran’s suspicious nuclear program and have doubted his support for Israel. Democrats have scoffed at those suggestions and countered that Hagel doesn’t set American policy on those issues—President Barack Obama does.
Here is Dole’s full statement:
“Chuck Hagel has spent his entire life in service to his country. He volunteered to fight in Vietnam and did so bravely, side-by-side with his brother and earning two Purple Hearts. He served as Deputy Administrator of the Veterans Administration for President Ronald Reagan and was President & Chief Executive Officer of the World USO. He represented the people of Nebraska in the Senate with honor for twelve years and was a coauthor of the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill. Hagel’s wisdom and courage make him uniquely qualified to be Secretary of Defense and lead the men and women of our armed forces. Chuck Hagel will be an exceptional leader at an important time.”