Washington Secrets

Chuck Hagel Pentagon nomination picks up steam

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Politics,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,The Pentagon,Chuck Hagel

His nomination hearing didn't go well, so former Sen. Chuck Hagel is on Capitol Hill this week wooing senators to back his bid to replace Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

An administration official working with Hagel told Secrets that the former Nebraska senator has about 20 individual meetings with senators planned and that the initial ones are going well. He has received public endorsements from several Democrats as well as two Republicans, likely assuring his confirmation.

Democratic Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, Mark Udall, and Richard Blumenthal have publicly applauded Hagel. Republican Sens. Thad Cochran and Mike Johanns also back Hagel, whose plodding performance at last week's confirmation hearing raised eyebrows on both sides of the aisle.

The official said that the administration is confident Hagel will be confirmed. The Senate Armed Services Committee votes Thursday on his nomination. "We feel like the momentum is headed in the right direction, and we're confident he's going to get confirmed," said the official.

He's also out at the Pentagon getting more briefings as part of the transition effort.

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