Hagel draws concerns as defense pick

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WASHINGTON -- Two senators predicted Sunday that former Sen. Chuck Hagel would face a difficult confirmation if nominated by President Barack Obama to be defense secretary.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent who's retiring and wouldn't have a vote, cited Mr. Hagel's less-than-hawkish positions on Iran. Mr. Lieberman told CNN's "State of the Union" that it would be "a very tough confirmation process," and "there are reasonable questions to ask and that Chuck Hagel will have to answer."

On NBC's "Meet the Press," Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said it would be "a challenging nomination."

"I don't think he's going to get many Republican votes," Mr. Graham said.

Mr. Hagel, 66, a Republican from Nebraska, is considered the leading candidate to replace Leon Panetta at the Pentagon, although a number of GOP senators have expressed reservations about a nomination. Their concerns largely center on Mr. Hagel's past comments about Israel and Iran. Outside groups have suggested that based on Mr. Hagel's remarks, he isn't sufficiently supportive of Israel, an important ally in the Middle East.

Opponents point to his votes against sanctions on Iran and letters that Mr. Hagel signed, along with ones he declined to add his name to, many of those favored by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the powerful pro-Israel lobby.

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