Vets groups' praise for Hagel adds pressure on GOP

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama's nominee for defense secretary is facing opposition from many fellow Republicans, but former Sen. Chuck Hagel is garnering support from military veterans' organizations.

Many of the groups are praising Hagel, a twice-wounded combat veteran of Vietnam and deputy administrator in President Ronald Reagan's Veterans Administration.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars calls him uniquely qualified to become Pentagon chief. The Military Officers Association of America says his experience gives him "a range of perspectives." The American Legion says he's a longtime advocate for veterans.

But the organizations, which are congressionally chartered, have stopped short of an outright endorsement.

Meanwhile, Republican-leaning outside groups have been waging a well-funded campaign against Hagel.

A vote on Hagel's nomination, which had been expected tomorrow, has been postponed as Republicans press for more answers from the nominee about his finances.

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APPHOTO WX110: FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2013 file photo, former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington before the Senate Armed Services Committee's confirmation hearing. Countering the Republican-led opposition to President Barack Obama's nominee for defense secretary is a less flashy but powerful constituency — military veterans. Longstanding veterans' organizations have praised Hagel, a twice-wounded combat veteran of Vietnam and deputy administrator in President Ronald Reagan's Veterans Administration. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File) (31 Jan 2013)

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