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Congress: Hagel faces tough questioning

“Republican senators tore into Chuck Hagel Thursday for not being tough enough on Iran, too tough on Israel and too willing to abandon Iraq,” USA Today writes. “Whether their criticism is enough to derail his nomination to become the next Defense secretary looks to be a long-shot. Hagel appears to have the backing of Senate Democrats and at least six Republicans, said Thomas Mann, a congressional scholar at the Brookings Institution.”

National Journal’s Hirsch calls Hagel a “poor witness for himself,” adding that he’s always been “deliberative and slow of speech, stubbornly stating his positions without concern as to who else joined with him in them.” More: “The strong, silent-type approach worked for the Nebraska Republican when he was on the other side of the firing line, just one of a gauntlet of senators asking questions, but it wasn’t working on Thursday, with him in the hot seat before the Senate's Armed Services Committee and getting it from all sides.”

And: “The long pauses and agonizingly careful answers held up for the most part when it came to substance—though he did fumble once on whether he supported “containment” against Iran—but Hagel was moving at the pace of a tortoise while some of his harshest critics, like Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., were darting around him like hares.”

Politico’s lede: “Chuck Hagel left the Senate four years ago, but it could have been a lifetime judging by the harsh reception from his Republican former colleagues on Thursday.”

By the way, how much is Ted Cruz looking for attention? He pens an op-ed in Politico on “Hagel’s confirmation day conversion.

“Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) associates, furious about fellow Republican Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) calling the Floridian ‘nuts’ and ‘naïve’ over his immigration reform efforts, are hitting Vitter where it hurts,” Politico notes.

Said one source close to Rubio: “David Vitter has done some nuttier things in his life.”

Speaking of Rubio, the Cook Political Report’s Amy Walter looks at the GOP and the immigration debate. “By now, just about everyone understands that Republicans have a problem with Hispanic voters. The bigger question now is if a bi-partisan immigration bill will be the cure.”