By Jeremy Herb - 01/07/13 06:56 PM EST
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Monday that former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) is the “wrong man for the job” of the next Pentagon chief.
Cantor issued a statement stating his opposition to Hagel shortly after the former senator was nominated by President Obama to become Defense secretary.
“Recent reporting has made clear that Senator Hagel’s views and inflammatory statements about Israel are well outside the mainstream and raise well-founded doubts that he can be trusted to manage the special relationship the United States shares with our greatest Middle East ally,” he said.
As a House member, of course, Cantor does not get a vote on Hagel’s confirmation. But his opposition highlights the conservative mobilization against Hagel, who angered many Republicans with his opposition to the Iraq war at the end of the George W. Bush administration.
The Republican National Committee on Monday issued a release that went after Hagel and outlined the opposition to him thus far.
Cantor and other GOP lawmakers who have opposed Hagel — including Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) — have cited Hagel’s comments about the “Jewish lobby” intimidating people in Washington and said that he’s soft on Iran.
Many Senate Republicans have expressed concerns about Hagel’s comments and positions, but have stopped short of saying they would vote against his confirmation.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on ABC’s “This Week” he would wait and see how the hearings go before deciding whether to support Hagel.