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Maine Sen. King: No strong reason to oppose Hagel

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 17, 2013 at 5:26 pm •  Published: January 17, 2013

"I know his sense of integrity and his great knowledge of our defense and foreign policies," Leahy said. "He knows about national defense from the ground up and from his own deeply personal experience — he still carries the wounds of war. The fact that he would be the first enlisted service member to head the Pentagon is significant, and it is timely."

A handful of Republicans have expressed their opposition to Hagel, a Republican who served two terms as a senator from Nebraska. His nomination gained some Democratic momentum this week with the backing of Sens. Chuck Schumer and Barbara Boxer, but the opposition of the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee, Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, was a blow.

If confirmed, Hagel would be the first Vietnam veteran to serve as the secretary of defense.

"The idea that he's been an enlisted man, a decorated Vietnam veteran, he knows the reality of the life of the ordinary soldier is a big plus," King said. "I've heard people dismiss that, say, 'Oh, that's no big deal.' I think it is. I think it's a significant piece of what he brings to this position."