Republicans let it be known that they would confirm former Republican Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel as Defense Secretary and Massachusetts Senator John Kerry as Secretary Of State.
“I think both of them will be questioned vigorously but confirmed,” said a top GOP Senate aide, meaning the GOP won’t put up a fight in the Democratically-controlled chamber. That will be a key selling point as Obama considers his choices.
Reports emerged Thursday that Hagel, a Vietnam vet from Nebraska, was the frontrunner to replace exiting Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
At the same time, the U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, president’s leading choice to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, withdrew her name from consideration. All eyes immediately turned to Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Obama’s sometime emissary overseas.