Bob Gates, Carl Levin endorse Hagel for SecDef

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Two key endorsements for Chuck Hagel, who President Obama nominated today for Secretary of Defense, may help ease his confirmation battle. Both Sen. Carl Levin (D-Michigan), the chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a key Jewish Senate leader, and former Defense Secretary Bob Gates said Monday they strongly endorsed the choice.

“Senator Hagel is well qualified to serve as secretary of defense with his broad experience in national security affairs,” Levin said in a statement Monday sent to reporters as Obama announced the nomination, urging the Senate to promptly confirm his choices.

Levin serves as a kind of unofficial dean of Jewish Democrats in the Senate, and many fellow Jewish Democratic Senators follow his lead on sensitive, Israel-related matters.

“The Armed Services Committee will give prompt and careful consideration to Senator Hagel’s nomination for this critical position,” Levin vowed in his statement Monday.

Former Defense Secretary Bob Gates also endorsed Hagel for SecDef, in a statement emailed to reporters by his former spokesman Geoff Morrell:

I congratulate Senator Hagel on his nomination to be secretary of defense. I am grateful for his willingness to take on this responsibility at a time of great challenges for the Defense Department. While there are issues on which I have disagreed with him, such as the 2007 surge in Iraq, he is a man of complete integrity and deep patriotism. He is also the president's choice. The country and our men and women in uniform would be well-served by his swift confirmation.” – Robert M. Gates

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