By Justin Sink - 02/01/13 05:34 PM EST
White House press secretary Jay Carney said that former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) “did fine” in his confirmation hearing Thursday and accused Republicans of “badgering” the secretary of Defense nominee.
“I think Sen. Hagel answered questions appropriately and did fine,” Carney said, adding that Hagel's statements being highlighted by critics “largely represent badgering by the questioners.”
“We expect the Senate to confirm Sen. Hagel to the position of Secretary of Defense,” Carney said.
Hagel’s performance through his eight-hour confirmation hearing Thursday was widely interpreted as shaky, as the former senator stumbled over questions on the legitimacy of Iran's government and his position on the surge in Iraq. Hagel repeatedly was asked about and apologized for prior statements on Israel, the "Jewish lobby," and a gay ambassadorial nominee.
“If I had an opportunity to edit that, like many things I’ve said, I would like to go back and change the words and the meaning,” Hagel said. “I regret that I used those words.”
Still, Hagel likely has enough votes for confirmation unless Republicans opt to stage a filibuster. The White House Friday said they felt Hagel had shored up support.
“By my read of news reports, the number of senators who have said positively that they will vote to confirm Sen. Hagel has increased since the hearing yesterday,” Carney said.