The White House is circulating talking points for top surrogates on how to defend the president's Defense nominee, Chuck Hagel, according to outside White House allies.
In addition to providing details of their arguments for the former Nebraska senator, it also reveals the areas of top concern to he White House as hurdles to Hagel's nomination, including Israel, gay rights, a Democrat nominating a Republican, and Republican opposition.
Here's how the talking points, in the form of a Q&A, read:
Q/ Doesn't he have a record of opposing Israel?
Hagel has a strong record of support for Israel. He voted time and again to provide assistance to Israel, and to enhance its security. In his book, he wrote "at its core, there will always be a special and historic bond with Israel exemplified by our continued commitment to Israel's defense." He has said that Israel's identity as a Jewish state must be protected as a part of any peace deal. And as Secretary, he will continue to carry out President Obama's unprecedented security cooperation with Israel.
Q/ Are you concerned about his LGBT record / comments about someone being an "openly, aggressively gay" ambassadorial nominee?
Hagel recently said, "My comments 14 years ago in 1998 were insensitive. They do not reflect my views or the totality of my public record, and I apologize to Ambassador Hormel and any LGBT Americans who may question my commitment to their civil rights. I am fully supportive of 'open service' and committed to LGBT military families." As Secretary, he will continue President Obama's historic support for gay and lesbian service-members, including implementation of the full repeal of DADT.
Q/ Why are you nominating a Republican as Secretary of Defense for the second time? Why aren't you confident enough to nominate a Democrat?
The strength of President Obama's record on national security speaks for itself - decimating al Qaeda's leadership, ending the war in Iraq, winding down the war in Afghanistan, strengthening our standing in the world. Chuck Hagel has been fully in line with the President's views on national security, including ending the war in Afghanistan and only going to war when we absolutely must. And in the Senate, he was willing to go against his own party when he became a critic of the Iraq War.
Q/ Are you concerned about statements from Republicans opposing him?
We urge the Senate to confirm Senator Hagel as soon as possible. While some Republicans disagreed with Senator Hagel's criticism of the Iraq War, it would be hard to imagine many Republicans voting against a decorated war hero and long-time expert on national security issues like Chuck Hagel.