By Meghashyam Mali - 01/13/13 03:52 PM EST
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) on Sunday raised questions about former Sen. Chuck Hagel’s (R-Neb.) temperament to be Defense secretary.
In an interview on ABC’s “This Week,” Corker said that reports from former staffers about how they were treated by Hagel should be looked at during Hagel’s confirmation hearings to lead the Pentagon.
“I think another thing … that's going to come up is just his overall temperament, and is he suited to run a department or a big agency or a big entity like the Pentagon,” said Corker.
Hagel, who has been tapped by Obama to replace outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, is likely to face a tough confirmation battle, with GOP lawmakers already raising questions about how views on middle East policy.
Pro-Israel groups have targeted the nominee, arguing that he would be a poor backer of the U.S. ally, and questioning his past calls for high-level diplomatic talks with Hamas and Iran.
Corker said Hagel had contacted him last week and that the two would meet soon. But Corker cautioned that Hagel would face tough grilling from senators.
“I talked to Chuck this week. He's coming in to see me next week. But I think the hearings, this is going to be a real hearing process, unlike many of the people who end up being confirmed or not confirmed,” he said.
Corker said that questions Hagel’s policy views were not “disqualifying concerns,” but said their meetings would be key to winning his support.
Also appearing on ABC, Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) expressed confidence that Hagel would be confirmed and praised the nominee’s experience as a soldier in Vietnam, saying it would give him “creditability with the forces.”
“He's fought. He has literally walked in their boots. That, I think, will inspire great confidence in the military officers and enlisted men that he deals with, and women,” said Reed.