• Photo showcase: Chuck Hagel through the years
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WASHINGTON — Former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel will be nominated today by President Barack Obama to be the nation's next secretary of defense, White House officials said Sunday.
The nomination of Hagel, a Republican, is likely to set up a bruising confirmation fight. Speaking on CNN's “State of the Union” earlier Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., predicted that Hagel would be “the most antagonistic secretary of defense toward the state of Israel in our nation's history,” and called it an “in-your-face nomination.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., while promising that Hagel would get a “fair hearing,” said on NBC's “Meet the Press” that the Nebraskan would face “tough questions.”
Hagel is viewed with suspicion by many in his party for calling on Israel to negotiate with Palestinians and for his opposition to some sanctions against Iran.
He also has been criticized on the left for a remark he made in 1998 that a Clinton administration ambassadorial nominee was “openly, aggressively gay.” Hagel recently apologized for that comment.