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Insiders Split on Hagel Nomination Insiders Split on Hagel Nomination

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Insiders Split on Hagel Nomination

January 13, 2013

A majority of Democrats think President Obama's selection of Chuck Hagel to run the Department of Defense was -- politically speaking -- the right choice, according to the latest National Journal Political Insiders Poll, but confidence in the nomination was nonetheless far from unanimous. 

Fifty-eight percent of Democratic insiders said the choice was the smart one politically, while 15 percent said it wasn't. Twenty-seven percent said it was too early to tell.

Republicans, meanwhile, regarded the nomination as a mistake. Fifty-two percent of Insiders said the nomination was the wrong one, while 32 percent said it was too early to tell. Only 16 percent said the nomination was the right one.

Politically speaking, was President Obama's nomination of Chuck Hagel to the post of Defense secretary the right one?

  Democrats
(109 votes)
Republicans
(102 votes)
Yes 58% 16%
No 15% 52%
Too early to tell 27% 32%

Hagel, a former Republican senator from Nebraska, alienated many in his party with his vocal criticism of the Iraq War and later endorsement of Obama's presidential campaign in 2008. His nomination has been a controversial one in D.C., with critics charging he's soft on Iran and insufficently supportive of Israel.

But some Democratic Insiders were bullish on the nomination, seeing Obama's pick as a savvy move toward bipartisanship

"Remarkable Republicans opposed to: (a) a Republican, (b) a former senator, and (c) someone who was right on the Iraq war," said one. "Haven't they learned anything in the past decade?"

Added another: "Defense issues will come into play as the budget talks heat up. Having a Republican who supports defense cuts as your Secretary of Defense cannot hurt."

A few Republicans, though in the minority, agreed.

"Obama puts a Republican in charge of gutting the Defense Department," said one GOP Insider.

Others were more blunt in their assessment, including some Democrats.

"Choosing a Republican, however liberal, sends a message that a Democrat's not capable of doing the job," said one Democratic Insider.

Asked another, "Why pick a fight on Israel?"

Republicans took delight in the Democratic disunity.

"Obama thinks he is confronting Republicans, but Democrats have a problem with Hagel as well," according to a Republican Insider.

"You've really got to work hard to antagonize members of BOTH parties with one nomination," another added.

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