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Kerry Defends Senator Chuck Hagel, Defense Secretary Nominee

Senator John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat and nominee to be the next secretary of state, defended Chuck Hagel, the former Republican senator from Nebraska who is now President Barack Obama’s nominee to lead the Defense Department.

“I know Chuck Hagel, he’s a strong patriotic senator and he will be a strong Secretary of Defense,” Kerry said. “I think some of the efforts to color Senator Hagel’s approach to some of these things do him an injustice,” Kerry said.

Hagel has been criticized by fellow Republicans, including Senator John McCain of Arizona, for being insufficiently supportive of Israel. Kerry was answering a question at his nomination hearing from Tennessee Republican Senator Robert Corker, who asked about Hagel’s commitment to maintaining U.S. nuclear deterrent capacity.

“I don’t think Senator Hagel would go over to the Defense Department and be an opponent,” Kerry said.

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