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January 8th, 2013
10:24 AM ET

Hagel's Fmr. Chief of Staff: 'Astounded' by 'distortion of record' on Israel

Even before President Obama nominated Chuck Hagel for Defense Secretary yesterday, the former Republican Senator from Nebraska faced attacks from both sides over past statements on issues including Israel, Iran and gay rights.

Hagel's former chief of staff Mike Buttry, who worked for the Senator from 2000-2008, joins Starting Point this morning to discuss the criticism the nominee has received.

"With regard to the point on Israel, I’ve been astounded by the way that Senator Hagel’s record has been distorted," Buttry says. "This is someone who understands not just in his head, but in his heart, the importance of our relationship with Israel."

Buttry also weighs in on criticism of Hagel's "openly, aggressively gay" comment, remarking, "In our office it did not matter if you were gay or not. What mattered was the work that you did and that’s how he’ll operate in the Pentagon."

January 7th, 2013
10:03 AM ET

Fmr. Rep. Mary Mack: 'In the end, I think [Hagel] will get the nomination'

Today at 1pm ET, President Obama is expected to announce his chief counter-terror adviser John Brennan as his nominee for CIA director, and former GOP Senator Chuck Hagel as his next Defense Secretary.

Hagel's potential nomination is already facing criticism from both the left and the right on Capitol Hill who object to his stance on Iran and Hamas. He has also faced opposition from gay rights groups for a comment he made in 1998 in which he questioned whether a nominee for ambassadorship was suitable because he was "openly, aggressively gay."

Today on Starting Point, Former Representatives Connie and Mary Bono Mack weigh in on Hagel's nomination, asserting that although it will likely be a "spirited confirmation process," they think the former Senator will get the position in the end.