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White House Defends Hagel, Dings McCain

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney still expects Chuck Hagel to be confirmed as Defense secretary but ripped into Sen. John McCain’s focus on Iraq in rough questioning in a Senate hearing Thursday.

“I would be stunned if, in the end, Republican senators chose to try to block the nomination of a decorated war veteran who was once among their colleagues in the Senate as a Republican,” Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters Friday.

Carney dismissed questioning from McCain, R-Ariz., as “re-litigating” the Iraq war and said much of the questioning amounted to “badgering” on old issues while issues such as the ongoing war in Afghanistan got “short shrift.”

Carney noted that Hagel’s views on Iraq are the same as the president’s. McCain had aggressively questioned Hagel over his opposition to the 2007 surge of U.S. troops into Iraq.

“They were the views the president expressed when he ran for office in 2008 and won. They were the views that he expressed in a campaign against Sen. McCain, who has — who spent most of his time asking about Sen. Hagel’s views on Iraq,” Carney said. “The president promised to end that war, and he did. At the time in 2008, as I recall, Sen. McCain suggested we might have troops in Iraq for 100 years.”

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