By Jeremy Herb
A new group that’s joined in the campaign against former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), President Obama’s nominee to be the next Defense secretary, is airing TV ads targeting vulnerable Democratic senators.
The ads will run in the states of Sens. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.).
The group's spokesman, Ryan Williams, would not say how much money was going into the ad campaign, but said the ads will run on broadcast and cable in each state.
Americans for a Strong Defense is the latest anti-Hagel group to jump into the campaign against his nomination. The American Future Fund, Emergency Committee for Israel and Log Cabin Republicans have all run advertisements against the former Nebraska senator.
About a half-dozen Republican senators have said they will oppose his nomination. No Democrats have come out against Hagel, but many have raised concerns about his positions on Israel, Iran and gay rights.
The American Future Fund put out an ad against Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), the No. 3 Senate Democrat known for his pro-Israel views, after he said he’d back Hagel.
The Americans for a Strong Defense ads claim that Hagel wants “an end to our nuclear program” and “devastating defense cuts.” They ask viewers to tell the targeted senator to vote against Hagel’s confirmation.
A source close to the Hagel confirmation said the ad was “demonstrably false.”
“Hagel has made it clear that he is committed to preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, for example,” the source said. “But this ad purposefully distorts his record to try to score cheap political points."
Hagel continues to meet with senators ahead of his confirmation hearing next week. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he was meeting with Hagel Tuesday afternoon. McCain said he was going to ask Hagel about his statements on Israel and opposition to the Iraq surge.