Sen. John McCain had a feisty exchange with Chuck Hagel about the Iraq troop surge at Senate confirmation hearings for President Obama's pick for secretary of defense.
President Barack Obama's nominee for defense secretary said Thursday he would not hesitate to use the "full force of the U.S. military" as he plunged into a Senate confirmation fight with critics from his own Republican Party, who worry that his past statements about Israel, Iran and nuclear weapons are signs of weakness.
Chuck Hagel's appearance at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing could be crucial in determining whether he will win Senate confirmation to succeed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta in Obama's second-term national security team.
The hearing was the first time the former senator has publicly addressed the barrage of criticism that he is not sufficiently pro-Israel or tough enough on Iran. His past comments about the influence of a "Jewish lobby" and his description of a diplomatic nominee as "openly, aggressively gay" have been scrutinized. Hagel also has questioned the efficacy of unilateral sanctions on Iran, arguing that penalties in conjunction with international partners made more sense.
Hagel's record "is deeply troubling and out of mainstream views," Sen. Jim Inhofe, the top Republican on the committee, said shortly after the hearing began. Republican Sen. John McCain had even sharper words for Hagel during a spirited exchange over the war in Iraq.