Colin Powell: Chuck Hagel Is "Superbly Qualified"   

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Jan. 13 2013 3:06 PM

Colin Powell Defends Chuck Hagel as Republican Questions his “Temperament”

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Former Sen. Chuck Hagel speaks after President Obama announced his nomination to lead the Pentagon

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Colin Powell went on NBC Sunday and mounted a strong defense of Chuck Hagel, calling the former Republican senator from Nebraska “superbly qualified” to be the next defense secretary and expressing confidence that he would ultimately be confirmed. “I think he will do a great job as secretary of defense,” Powell said. “He knows what war is and he will fight a war if it’s necessary, but he’s a guy who will do it with great deliberation and care.” Hagel was seriously wounded while serving in Vietnam. Powell insisted Hagel is a “very, very strong supporter of Israel but “that doesn’t mean you have to agree with every single position that the Israeli government takes.”

Meanwhile, Republicans made it clear Sunday they still have doubts about Hagel. On ABC, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, raised what seemed to be a new charge against Hagel by questioning his “temperament.”

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Hagel has been repeatedly criticized for, among other things, his views on Iran and Israel but Corker said that “another thing that's going to come up is just his overall temperament, and is he suited to run a department or a big agency or a big entity like the Pentagon.” Without elaborating, Corker said there are several “staffers who are coming forth now just talking about the way he has dealt with them.” Still, Corker insisted his concerns were not “disqualifying.” For his part, Sen. John McCain said there are “legitimate questions” about Hagel.

Watch video of the interviews after the jump:

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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