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OPPOSITION TO HAGEL MOUNTS

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Rubio Announces Opposition, Citing Iran and Cuba
By Harold Hutchison

Senator Marco Rubio, a rising star in the Republican Party, and touted as a potential presidential candidate in 2016, announced his opposition to former Senator Chuck Hagel’s nomination as Secretary of Defense.

“After carefully reviewing Senator Hagel’s record on a number of issues, I cannot support his confirmation as our nation’s next Secretary of Defense. I oppose his confirmation because of his views on U.S. policy toward Cuba, his past opposition to tough Iran sanctions, his questionable comments in the past about U.S. support for Israel, his support for direct, bilateral negotiations with North Korea and, most importantly, my belief that he will usher in a new era of austere defense budgets that will severely impede U.S. national security by hampering readiness and radically limiting the global force projection of our military,” Rubio said in a statement released on his Senate web site.

“Senator Hagel served his country during the Vietnam War with great distinction and has an admirable record of public service. I also appreciate him taking the time to visit with me this week. Unfortunately, his policy views are too far apart from what I believe to be the way forward for preserving America’s proper role in the world as a force for security and peace. Now more than ever, I firmly believe the U.S. needs a robust military capability that includes a renewed commitment to our shipbuilding program, a reliable nuclear deterrent to defend against rogue nations and a nimble counterterrorism force able to confront the asymmetric warfare of the 21st century,” Rubio added.

Rubio’s opposition is an added blow in the wake of Hagel’s poor performance during an appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee on 31 January.