Graham, Rubio will likely vote against Hagel

"It's not looking good," Graham said of Thursday's hearings

Topics: Ted Cruz, Chuck Hagel, Defense Secretary, Al Jazeera, Senate Armed Services Committee,

After grilling Chuck Hagel on his comments about the “Jewish lobby,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said he will oppose Hagel’s nomination to Defense Secretary. ”It’s not looking good,” Graham told Foreign Policy. “I don’t think he’s been consistent over time on major issues.”

Graham was just one of the Republican votes that Hagel lost during the hearing, which was often comabtive when it came time for Republicans to ask questions.”I don’t think he’s going to be able the questions I’m going to have. I saw the hearing and I won’t be able to support him,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who is not on the committee, but said he reviewed what went on in the hearings.

“I have serious reservations about it,” Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D,, also told Foreign Policy. “I know Chuck. He’s a good guy. I like him personally. But I have serious reservations about him becoming the secretary of defense.”

The broad consensus is that Hagel stumbled a few times during the hearings (Sen. Claire McCaskill, R-Mo., even said on MSNBC that she didn’t think he did so well: ”I think that Chuck Hagel is much more comfortable asking qusetions than answering them”). But, as Greg Sargent reports, it may not matter:

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Spending a few hours on the defensive isn’t likely to sink his nomination — unless it was already doomed.

The first part of confirmation has always been to ensure that all 55 Democrats supported Hagel. That was essentially achieved during Hagel’s meeting with Democratic senators, if not earlier. It’s possible one or two Democrats might be tough votes, but unlikely he’ll lose any of them.

Now, you might think that 55 votes in a 100-vote chamber would be sufficient, but only if you haven’t been paying attention since January 2009. Whether or not Republicans ultimately insist on a cloture vote, they almost certainly will insist on 60 votes to confirm (that is, if Hagel has the votes, they might not allow the nomination to go straight to a final vote). So the second part has always been whether the former Republican senator can pick up five Senate Republicans. Prior to his confirmation hearing today, he had already scored one of those, Thad Cochran. That’s a good start; Cochran, a mainstream conservative, doesn’t seem to be a likely outlier. But he’ll need four more.

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at jrayfield@salon.com.

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