WASHINGTON (AP) — The man nominated to be the nation's next defense secretary has picked up the support of two of the Senate's staunchest supporters of Israel -- despite concerns about Chuck Hagel's commitment to the Jewish state.
Chuck Schumer of New York and Barbara Boxer of California say they've spoken at length with Hagel. And they say the former Republican senator has addressed their earlier reservations about whether he is "anti-Israel" and too soft on Iran, and their concerns that he might be opposed to gay rights.
Schumer -- who met with Hagel for 90 minutes yesterday at the White House -- issued a statement saying he will support Hagel, "based on several key assurances" he received from him.
Boxer expressed her support after receiving a letter from Hagel in which he insisted that he supports President Barack Obama's foreign policy positions.
In the letter, Hagel expressed regret for using the term "Jewish lobby" to describe pro-Israel groups. He called it a "very poor choice of words."
Hagel still has to contend with opposition from the Republican ranks.
172-w-30-(Jerry Bodlander, AP correspondent, with Senator Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.)--Chuck Hagel's nomination to head the Defense Department is picking up support. AP correspondent Jerry Bodlander reports. (15 Jan 2013)
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173-c-27-(Jerry Bodlander, AP correspondent)-"take them back"-AP correspondent Jerry Bodlander reports Chuck Hagel is gaining support in his bid to become the next defense secretary. (15 Jan 2013)
<<CUT *173 (01/15/13)>> 00:27 "take them back"
APPHOTO WX106: In this Jan. 7, 2013 photo, former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, president Barack Obama's choice for defense secretary, speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Jan. 7, 2013, where the president made the announcement. Hagel secured the backing of two of the staunchest pro-Israel Senate Democrats in a clear boost to the Republican's prospects of becoming President Barack Obama's next defense secretary. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) (7 Jan 2013)
<<APPHOTO WX106 (01/07/13)>>