Top contenders to succeed Chuck Hagel as defense secretary

Top contenders to succeed Chuck Hagel as defense secretary
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·Chief Washington Correspondent
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Outgoing Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel hadn’t even formally confirmed his resignation at his White House sendoff Monday before one of the top potential candidates to replace him pulled his name from contention.

Sen. Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat who sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee and served as an officer in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division, is happy where he is, spokesman Chip Unruh said.

Senator Reed loves his job and wants to continue serving the people of Rhode Island in the United States Senate,” said Unruh. “He has made it very clear that he does not wish to be considered for secretary of defense or any other Cabinet position. He just asked the people of Rhode Island to hire him for another six-year term and plans to honor that commitment.”

Standing next to Hagel in the White House’s state dining room, Obama praised the Republican former senator’s service but gave no hint of whether he has settled on a shortlist for his fourth defense secretary.

Instead, the president announced that Hagel would stay on until a successor has won Senate confirmation  the same approach he took when he announced that Attorney General Eric Holder was leaving.

“Chuck has agreed to stay on until I nominate a successor and that successor is confirmed by the Senate, which means that he’ll continue to guide our troops at this challenging time,” the president said.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters that a nominee would be announced “relatively soon” but gave no specific timetable. The Senate is unlikely to vote on confirmation until 2015, when Republicans will control both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Here’s a list of some potential successors to Hagel :

Michèle Flournoy: Flournoy, who would be the first woman to run the Pentagon, has longstanding ties to Obama. She played a key role on his 2008 transition team and went on to serve as undersecretary of defense for policy, the No. 3 post in the department. She stepped down in early 2012. If Hillary Clinton runs and wins in 2016, Flournoy would likely be in line for a top national security post — a fact she would be sure to consider if approached to replace Hagel.

Ashton Carter: Carter served as deputy secretary of defense — the No. 2 job at the Pentagon — from late 2011 to late 2013. He left after being passed over in favor of Hagel. A highly regarded manager, Carter would come in at a time of growing grumbling in Congress about military spending cuts known as sequestration.

John McHugh: The Republican former representative from western New York served as secretary of the army in Obama’s first term. He played a role in the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, by declaring that he would not seek the expulsion of active duty personnel who told him that they were gay.

Carl Levin: The Democratic senator from Michigan chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee but is retiring in January. He hasn’t shared any details about his plans, but an aide told Yahoo News that “he’s looking forward to heading back home to Michigan full-time.”

Ray Mabus: Mabus, a Democrat, serves as secretary of the navy. He has also been ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

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