Despite growing controversy, Senator Jean Shaheen (D-NH) threw her support behind former Senator Chuck Hagel’s (R-NE) nomination for Secretary of Defense on Thursday, stating she was “pleased” with President Obama’s decision.
Sen. Shaheen’s support comes amid a turbulent path for Hagel’s confirmation in the Senate, which has been the subject of criticism from both sides of the aisle since President Obama announced his nomination earlier this month. Conservative groups in particular have found fault with Hagel’s soft stances on North Korea, Russia, and Iran, and his various foreign policy positions. One such group, Americans for a Strong Defense, has launched a series of television ads attacking Hagel’s foreign policy record, criticizing Hagel’s support for “an end to our nuclear program” and “devastating defense cuts.”
Other Capitol Hill insiders have voiced concerns over Hagel’s personnel-management style. During Hagel’s tenure in the Senate, his office ranked second-highest in staff turnover – in 2005, he lost more than a third of his staffers. One analysis by the Washington Times found that he was known as “The Cornhusker Wears Prada” on the Hill for his “paranoid and abusive” management of his staff.
Many Senators have yet to declare their support or opposition to Chuck Hagel’s nomination. Sen. Shaheen is a member of the Armed Services Committee, and it is unclear how her expressed support will impact the nomination process.