By Meghashyam Mali - 12/23/12 09:57 PM EST
Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamTrump on primary rivals who don't back him: 'I don't know how they live with themselves' The Trail 2016: Who is really winning? Graham: GOP Senate could rein in Clinton White House MORE (R-S.C.) on Sunday predicted former Sen. Chuck HagelChuck HagelCreating a future for vets in DC Republicans back Clinton, but will she put them in Pentagon? There's still time for another third-party option MORE (R-Neb.) would face tough Republican opposition if nominated to be President Obama’s next Defense secretary.
“A lot of Republicans are going to ask him hard questions,” said Graham on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” “And I don't think he's going to get many Republicans votes.”
Graham on Sunday said that if nominated Hagel would be challenged to defend his foreign policy views to his former colleagues.
“I like Chuck, but his positions I didn't really quite frankly know all of them, are really out of the mainstream and well to the left of the president. I think it would be a challenging nomination, but the hearings will matter, so Chuck will have a chance to defend himself.”
Asked if he could support Hagel, Graham insisted he would “wait and see what happens in the hearings.”
“But I've got questions about Chuck's view of Iran, the situation with Hamas and Hezbollah, his position toward Israel, Afghanistan. I want to hear what he has to say, but very troubling comments by a future Secretary of Defense,” he continued.
Hagel last week also apologized for comments made about former U.S. Ambassador James Hormel in 1998, when Hagel called the diplomat “openly aggressively gay.” The former senator had made the remark to the Omaha World-Herald in explaining his opposition to confirming Hagel as ambassador to Luxemborg.
“My comments 14 years ago in 1998 were insensitive,” Hagel said in a statement Friday. “They do not reflect my views or the totality of my public record, and I apologize to Ambassador Hormel and any LGBT Americans who may question my commitment to their civil rights.”
Sen. Chuck SchumerCharles SchumerChasing away scalpers only hurts consumers Reid: 'I have set the Senate' for nuclear option Immigration was barely covered in the debates MORE (D-N.Y.), also on NBC, declined to say if he would support Hagel for Defense secretary if he was nominated.
He said it would be Obama’s “choice” to nominate Hagel, but cautioned that senators would scrutinize the nominee’s record.
“I think once he makes it, his record will be studied carefully, but until that point I think we're not going to know what's going to happen,” said Schumer. “I'd have to study his record. I'm not going to comment until the president makes a nomination.”
Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter and former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy are also believed to be on Obama’s shortlist for the top Pentagon post.