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Stunningly, Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE), said Hagel's disasterous performance during Thursday's confirmation hearing convinced him to back the nomination.
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Republicans Johanns, Cochran to Support
Hagel Nomination for Defense Secretary
Chuck Hagel has another Senate Republican in his corner. Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE), said Saturday that he will support Hagel's nomination to be defense secretary.

The loudest objections to the nomination have been over Hagel's past comments on Iran and Israel. Critics say he has been too soft on Iran and too tough on Israel.

Johanns said the greatest among his own concerns about Hagel dealt with his views on the Middle East and Israel. But Johanns said his hour-long meeting with Hagel and Thursday's confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee convinced him to back the nomination.

"At the end of it I was comfortable that he will be a strong supporter of our allies; he will be a strong supporter of Israel," Johanns told The World-Herald. "I think he'll be firm with our enemies, and I believe he'll be side-by-side with our allies, and I believe he'll exercise good judgment."

Hagel, a Republican and former US senator from Nebraska, already had the backing of Republican Sen. Thad Cochran of Mississippi.

Johanns' support could bring along other Republican votes. Even if Hagel faces a filibuster, he would need only five GOP votes to be confirmed, assuming that President Barack Obama's pick gets the support of the entire Democratic caucus.

Johanns said he heard from Nebraskans who supported Hagel's nomination and others who were opposed. Supporters' most common remark was that it is always good to have a Nebraskan in the Cabinet, while opponents pointed to Hagel's past comments about Israel and other political issues...

Johanns said he was struck by Hagel's statement during the hearing that he would change some of his past statements if he could. "That's Chuck's way of saying, 'It's one thing as an individual senator to talk about a whole host of things, it's quite another thing if you're a member of the president's Cabinet,' and that is a very, very important difference."

Johanns said he probably knows Hagel as well as any member of the Senate. The two have personal and political ties that go back many years.

Still, he said, his support is not about personal connections. Johanns said he would have voted against Hagel despite their friendship if he weren't comfortable that Hagel would do a good job running the Pentagon.

Johanns said a major factor for him was the passion that Hagel, a Vietnam veteran, displayed for those who serve in uniform during their private meeting and in the public hearing. "He just deeply cares about these people, and I certainly want somebody in the secretary of defense office who has that genuine concern and care for the men and women who are out there making the sacrifice and understand what it's all about, and I just don't know how you could improve in that area upon Chuck Hagel."

Hagel's performance under Thursday's intense questioning has been panned by many commentators, but Johanns expressed sympathy for Hagel, who was grilled for eight hours...

Johanns said he hopes his support helps win Hagel more votes, although he doesn't plan to actively lobby on his behalf.

As for his home-state colleague, fellow Republican Sen. Deb Fischer, Johanns said she'll be making up her own mind.

"Deb is an enormously capable person who will make a call on this one the way she thinks is best, and Deb just doesn't need me running around telling her how to vote on things," he said. "She operates very nicely on her own."


Editor's Note: How incredibly pathetic...Anyone who witnessed the rambling ineptness of Sen. Hagel's testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee must not only question Mr. Hagel's intellectual qualifications for the post, but should be shocked at how ill-prepared he was for the subject matter addressed. If Mr. Hagel is that unprepared for the most important interview of his life, how are we to trust he will be an able Secretary of Defense?...Republicans had better stop hiding behind the notion that a President should automatically receive any and all nominee confirmations and start doing what is correct; what is right for the country...Good government must trump politics where the security of the nation is concerned. Should Republicans cave on this horrible nomination there will be no other way to look at the GOP but to see them complicit with the Obama Administration in degrading the US military.

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