By GARY BAUER — END-OF-DAY-REPORT—
In recent days, conservative and pro-Israel groups have jumped into action on the growing rumors that President Obama plans to nominate former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel as the next Secretary of Defense. Jewish leaders spoke up right away due to Hagel’s anti-Israel record and comments that border on anti-Semitism.
Christians United for Israel, under the leadership of Pastor John Hagee, let its views be known to key members of the Senate. The Emergency Committee for Israel, founded by Bill Kristol, launched a TV ad campaign in the Washington, D.C., media market.
Kristol’s magazine, The Weekly Standard has been exposing Hagel’s weakness on Iran and other defense issues. Republican opposition is now building all over Capitol Hill and rumors suggest that pro-Israel Democrat senators don’t want to have to vote for him either.
Senator Dan Coats of Indiana said, “There are grave concerns about this possible nomination among Republicans and among people who know and have served with Chuck Hagel. We watched Chuck take positions that are, frankly, … to the left of Barack Obama.”
Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the second highest ranking member of Republican leadership, declared his opposition today. And the Washington Post reports that Florida Senator Marco Rubio is threatening to block Hagel’s nomination due to his support for lifting the embargo on communist Cuba, among other issues.
Today Obama officially nominated John Kerry to be Secretary of State. The White House is defending Hagel, but its support seems weak at best. If Obama sticks with Hagel, it is clear he will have a fight on his hands.