The former senator is going hands-on in a major effort to defuse political sniping from a small but loud minority:
Former Sen. Chuck Hagel, Obama’s choice to be his new defense secretary, has reached out to all 100 senators and will be meeting personally with dozens of them starting this week, according to an official working on his confirmation.
The sessions – and, more importantly, what Hagel says – will be vital for a nomination that faces outright opposition from a handful of Republicans, including the second-ranking Republican, Sen. John Cornyn of Texas; nervous questions from influential Democrats such as New York Sen. Chuck Schumer; and plenty of non-committal senators.
UPDATE: NY Sen. Chuck Schumer is now giving public backing to Hagel’s nomination:
“Based on several key assurances provided by Senator Hagel,” Mr. Schumer said in a prepared statement, “I am currently prepared to vote for his confirmation. I encourage my Senate colleagues who have shared my previous concerns to also support him.” Mr. Schumer is likely to have influence over many of his Senate colleagues, particularly Democrats, who have been fretting over the nomination. He called Mr. Hagel Tuesday morning to let him know he was prepared to support him.