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Obama expected to pick Senator Chuck Hagel to head Pentagon

POSTED: Monday, January 7, 2013 - 8:00am

UPDATED: Monday, January 7, 2013 - 10:57am

In Washington this morning, Republicans are preparing to grill one of their own.

Today, President Obama is expected to nominate his former Senate colleague, 66 year old Chuck Hagel to head the pentagon.

But already - that's not sitting well with many of Hagel's Republican colleagues.

"Out of the mainstream" is what Republicans here are calling Hagel's nomination. And they're ready for a fight.

"I think it will be a lot of tough questions of Senator Hagel," said Senator Minority Leader, Senator Mitch McConnell,  on Sunday's edition of Meet the Press.

A Purple Heart veteran wounded in Vietnam, Hagel is a moderate republican who criticized the Iraq troop surge, opposed unilateral sanctions against Iran, referred to pro-Israel groups as "the Jewish lobby," and once said being gay inhibits effectiveness.

"He apologized for it [.] And I think that anybody who serves in my administration understands my attitude and position on those issues," said President Barack Obama.

Republicans call him a controversial - "in your face" pick. "Chuck Hagel, if confirmed to be secretary of defense, would be the most antagonistic secretary of defense towards the State of Israel in our nation's history," said Senator Lindsey Graham, South Carolina.

If confirmed, Hagel would oversee the wind-down of troops in Afghanistan. A war he supported then criticized.

Republicans are planning to throw him tough questions, and pledging to be fair, but they stopped short of saying they'd block this nomination.

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