Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) said Thursday he opposes the confirmation of former Sen. Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense in an interview with Fox News:
RUBIO: Well, let me begin by saying that Chuck Hagel’s service to our country, particularly in Vietnam is something all of us admire and I don’t think you will find any debate about that but he is being nominated for one of the most important cabinet positions in our country, the secretary of defense. And I’ve stated long ago I’ve been deeply disturbed by his previous comments and positions in regards to sanctions on Iran and in regards to direct negotiations with North Korea. Obviously, statements he’s made about Israel. These are not the kind of statements and kind of positions I want to see our secretary of defense have and these are big, big problems. And so, for those reasons I just don’t believe I will be able to support his nomination especially after his testimony in the last hour here, he’s really not said anything that addresses those concerns to my satisfaction.
Update: Rubio’s office released the following statement about his opposition to Hagel:
“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.
“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.”