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January 7th, 2013
09:24 AM ET

Freshman senator Chris Murphy puts confidence in Obama possibly nominating Hagel

The possible nomination of Republican Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense has Republicans pushing back at the president. Freshman Democratic senator Chris Murphy from Connecticut had much to say in his first chat with Soledad.

He says, “I think Republicans are spoiling for a fight. I think they recognize that this guy’s coming into his second term with a head of steam, that he’s very well regarded on issues of foreign policy and Republicans are used to holding an advantage on that matter. They have lost it to an extent and so they just want to pick a fight.”

Pointing out that an official nomination has not been announced yet, he admits that he has not done his research thoroughly. But, on the surface, Murphy says, “The things I know about Chuck Hagel tells me he’d be a very strong pick here. He’d be the first Vietnam veteran, first enlisted soldier as Secretary of Defense. He’s a guy with foreign policy chops and someone who, frankly, hasn’t been afraid to depart from his party when he thought they were wrong.”

His military experience and well versed knowledge of foreign policy will help in the upcoming years of transforming the military, saying “We’re going to be withdrawing from Afghanistan. We’re going to be figuring out our new footprint in the world and the president trusts Chuck Hagel. […] He has been widely regarded as one of the smartest people on defense and national security issues on both sides of the aisle.”

Obama’s move was referred to as an “in your face” move by Senator Lindsey Graham. Murphy sees an advantage to appointing cabinet members with differing views from the president. He says, “The bottom line is that any secretary of defense, just like any other cabinet post, is going to implement the beliefs and views of the president of the United States. And we’ve gotten into this world today in which you almost can’t pick anybody who has previously independent views because somehow that will be perceived as being contrary to the views of the president. […] The fact is we need strong leaders in these positions, and strong leaders come sometimes with positions in the past which might not have always directly aligned with the president’s.”