WASHINGTON – The supporting cast for Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel has a notable Georgia twang.
Behind the scenes, former Georgia Democratic U.S. Sen. Max Cleland is working to build support for his fellow Vietnam War veteran and former Senate colleague. Cleland, who lost his seat in 2002 to Saxby Chambliss, was in the front row for Thursday morning’s confirmation hearing before the Armed Services Committee but declined to comment as Hagel’s nomination is still pending.
Seated next to Hagel was former Georgia Democratic U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn, who once chaired the committee. Nunn and former Armed Services chair John Warner, a Virginia Republican, introduced Hagel and lent bipartisan and powerful backing for the nominee. Senators tend to respect powerful former senators.
Hagel, a former Republican senator from Nebraska, has been a controversial pick on the left and the right – his alleged sins include insufficient backing of Israel and insensitivity toward gays.