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Government and Politics

Portman questions Hagel nomination
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman is questioning the president's pick for Defense secretary Chuck Hagel, but likes Jack Lew and John Kerry for Treasury and State

Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
Sen. Rob Portman (left) inspects a pair of goggles with Bahman Taheri (right), president of AlphaMicron in Kent, Ohio. The company makes tinted visors for military and commercial applications. AlphaMicron is a spin-off of Kent State University's Liquid Crystal Institute. Portman visited AlphMicron, NeoMed and a Youngstown company on a Jan. 11, 2013 swing through Northeast Ohio.
Courtesy of Jeff St.Clair
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Ohio Sen. Rob Portman is joining a growing number of Republicans in Congress voicing reservations about the president’s choice for secretary of Defense, former senator and fellow Republican Chuck Hagel.  

But WKSU’s Jeff St.Clair reports Portman has kinder words for the two Democratic cabinet nominees.


Portman questions Hagel nomination

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Rob Portman is not normally considered a foreign policy ‘hawk.’  The Ohio Republican is better known as a fiscal conservative and an effective deal maker.  But President Obama’s nomination of former Nebraska Sen.r and Vietnam War veteran Chuck Hagel has apparently ruffled Portman’s feathers.  Hagel was liked by both parties during his 12 years in the Senate, but his outspoken criticism of the Iraq war has left some fellow Republicans feeling cold toward his nomination as Pentagon chief.

On a swing through Northeast Ohio last week, Portman conveyed his fear that Hagel won’t be tough enough on Iran, especially when it comes to the threat of military action, and tighter sanctions.

“I’m very concerned that we don’t have a Secretary of the Defense who gives the Iranians the wrong impression as to not just the will of the U.S. but really of the global community that has is finally coming together to apply tough sanctions so that the Iranians don’t move forward with a nuclear weapon.” 

Portman takes a softer stand toward the two Democrats who need Senate approval.  The Ohio Republican likes Treasury nominee Jack Lew, but is withholding an outright endorsement until he hears Lew’s ideas for tax reform and entitlement reform.  Meanwhile Portman, like most of the Senate, is onboard with the president’s pick for Secretary of State, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry.

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