By Daniel Strauss - 12/27/12 02:52 PM EST
A group representing gay Republicans published an ad opposing the potential nomination of former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) for secretary of Defense.
The ad, published Thursday in The New York Times by the Log Cabin Republicans, cites comments Hagel made 14 years about James Hormel who was then being considered for a diplomatic post. Hormel, who is gay, was nominated by then-President Clinton to be ambassador to Luxembourg.
"They are representing America [as ambassador]. They are representing our lifestyle, our values, our standards. And I think it is an inhibiting factor to be gay — openly, aggressively gay," the ad quotes Hagel as saying.
"Chuck Hagel: Wrong on gay rights. Wrong on Iran. Wrong on Israel," the ad continues. "Tell President Obama that Chuck Hagel is wrong for Defense Secretary."
Hagel, who is seen as the president’s top choice to replace Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, has come under attack from both conservative and liberal groups.
Conservative groups have raised questions about his approach to Israel, hitting Hagel for comments he made as a senator about the "Jewish lobby" attempting to intimidate lawmakers.
Foreign policy hawks also say that Hagel would not do enough to stop Iran's nuclear program from developing weapons, citing his past votes against extending sanctions on Iran.
Earlier this month, Hagel sought to address the growing criticism, releasing a public apology for the comments about Ambassador Hormel.
But a number of senators have said if nominated, Hagel can expect to face a tough hearing.
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) said he would have "serious questions" about Hagel's stance on national security issues.
And Sen. Lindsey Graham said that a potential "hearing
will really matter."
“He has a stellar military record, but I think these comments disturb a lot of people and he’ll have to answer those questions," said Graham on Sunday.
Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter and former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michèle Flournoy have also been mentioned to succeed current Secretary Panetta.