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Chuck Hagel, Senate Republicans clash at confirmation hearing 31 Jan 2013 The left came Thursday to praise former Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Nebraska Republican whom President Barack Obama nominated to be his next secretary of defense. The right came to, if not bury him, keep him on the hot seat all day as it explored his views and past, sometimes controversial, statements on Israel, Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq and nuclear weapons. Hagel's confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee started out collegial enough. The committee’s chairman, Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., noted that the twice-wounded and decorated former Army sergeant in Vietnam could be the first former enlisted man to rise to the top spot at the Pentagon.