President Barack Obama's nominee for secretary of defense, Chuck Hagel, received a resounding vote of support on Sunday from a fellow Republican moderate, Colin L. Powell, who said Hagel, a former senator from Nebraska, was "superbly qualified" to lead the Pentagon.
"I think he will make a very, very spirited defense of his position -- and I think he'll be confirmed," Powell, a former secretary of state and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on the NBC News program "Meet the Press."
Republicans have been criticizing Hagel since his name began circulating as the possible nominee, and the criticism continued on the Sunday morning political talk shows.
Sen. John McCain of Arizona, on the CBS News program "Face the Nation," said Hagel's early opposition to the troop surge in Iraq was "bizarre." He said he would have many questions for Hagel when he appears before the Armed Services Committee for confirmation hearings. McCain is the committee's ranking Republican. Another Republican, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, appeared to open a new front on Sunday against Hagel, saying that he had questions about his "overall temperament."
Corker, who is not on the Armed Services Committee and said that he did not know Hagel well, offered little elaboration. But he said that there were "numbers of staffers who are coming forth now just talking about the way he has dealt with them."
Corker's comments on the ABC News program "This
Until now, Hagel has been criticized mainly for what some lawmakers and interest groups consider his overly cautious attitude toward Iran and his tough approach on Israel. But Powell said that Hagel had shown that it was possible to be "a good supporter of Israel" while still criticizing it.