Report: Chuck Hagel being vetted for top State, Defense posts

Former Sen. Chuck Hagel is being vetted for top security posts in the Obama administration, according to a report.

Foreign Policy magazine reported on Wednesday that the Nebraska Republican is being vetted for secretary of State or Defense.

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Hagel, a centrist on foreign policy, has expressed support for some of the Obama administration's recent national security policies.

Foreign Policy noted that Hagel has also been an outspoken critic of some of former President George W. Bush's policies on national security. He called the war in Iraq "an absolute replay of Vietnam."

Even after he left the Senate, Hagel has continued to weigh in on politics. He has criticized the Republican Party as being in the hands of the "extreme right" and said former President Reagan "would be stunned by the party today."

Just after the 2012 presidential election, Hagel, who is the chairman of the Atlantic Council, said that the current political environment was more conducive to deal-making than in past years.

"I think also because Barack Obama will not stand for an election again — at least he says he won't — that takes the political tension out of this to some extent," Hagel said. "There's always political tension and that's good, but that gives him more latitude, Republicans more latitude to finding a solution."

Hagel endorsed Democrat Bob Kerrey over Republican Deb Fischer in the Nebraska Senate race to replace outgoing Sen. Ben Nelson (D). The endorsement was a coup for Kerrey, as Hagel remains particularly influential in his home state. Fischer won the Senate seat.

Consideration of Hagel, who currently is the co-chairman of Obama's Intelligence Advisory Board, comes as top Republicans are expressing strong opposition to the possibility of Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice succeeding Hillary Clinton as secretary of State when Clinton steps down. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) has also been mentioned as a possible nominee to succeed Clinton, and for the top Defense Department slot.

If Hagel did become secretary of Defense, he would not be the first Republican in that position to serve Obama. Bob Gates, also a Republican, served as Obama's first secretary of Defense. Ray LaHood, a former GOP congressman, serves as Obama's transportation secretary. 


This post was updated at 5:57 p.m.