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."