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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Sen. Bill Nelson: Chuck Hagel is a 'dedicated public servant and patriot'

8

January

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, in Jerusalem today meeting with Middle East leaders, expressed support for Chuck Hagel, President Obama's defense secretary nominee.

“Chuck Hagel is a personal friend; a solid former U.S. senator; and, a dedicated public servant and patriot,” Nelson said. A news release said he spoke with Hagel today and "believes there will be a thorough review of Hagel’s record before his confirmation."

The statement does not delve into criticism that Hagel has not been a strong supporter of Israel, a point Obama and other Democrats say is false.

Nelson's office said he is in the Middle East for "briefings on regional security and peace process efforts involving Israelis and Palestinians. He said he believes there will be a thorough review of Hagel’s record before his confirmation.

Nelson also says he'll support John Brennan, Obama's pick to run the CIA. "Brennan was instrumental in helping plan the 2011 raid that killed Osama bin Laden," the news release stated.

News release continued:

Nelson also took aim at comments made yesterday by one of his current Senate colleagues.  U.S. Sen. Rand Paul ( R-KY ) said in Israel yesterday the U.S. should consider cutting foreign aid. 

“Israel needs the full assistance of the U.S.,” said Nelson. “It’s the only way Israel can remain secure.”

Nelson cited the fact that U.S. assistance helped build the Iron Dome missile defense system to protect Israel against Hamas rocket attacks.  Nelson, who introduced legislation last year supporting the Israeli defense system, visited an Iron Dome site yesterday.  The system was instrumental in protecting civilians when fighting escalated in the region late last year.

[Last modified: Tuesday, January 8, 2013 12:09pm]

    

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