OMAHA (KPTM) – President Barack Obama's choice to nominate former U.S. Senator from Nebraska, Chuck Hagel to be the next Secretary of Defense has support here in Omaha.
Despite the anticipated bumpy nomination road among former colleagues in the Senate, Obama said in a news conference Monday that he admires Hagel's "willingness to speak his mind even if it wasn't popular" and "even if it defied the conventional wisdom".
Some Republicans and Democrats fear Hagel is "anti-Israel" for pushing for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that suggested talking and using war as a last resort.
This is a stance Hagel's long-time friend Rabbi Aryeh Azriel of Temple Israel in Omaha supports.
"Any kind of conversation or attempt or even an inkling of trying to achieve something in a peaceful way is definitely welcome by me and by my congregation," he continues. "And I'm sure by the American people."
University of Nebraska, Omaha military student Joseph Newlon agrees.
"Talk under neutral conditions where it's safe for an individual to actually talk with others, because there's a case where you can go into the enemy's territories and get assassinated," Newlon says. "Like my mom always said, ‘wait until someone punches you first before you punch back."
Others affiliated with UNO who once worked with Hagel say they support the nomination mainly because he promotes bipartisanship.
"He makes decisions based on what he knows and feels what's right and not based on political agenda," Director of Military and Veteran Services Offices, Jennifer Carroll says.
UNO Senior Vice Chancellor B.J. Reed, who worked with Hagel in 2008-2009 when he served as a distinguished professor of College of Public Affairs and Community Service, says Hagel was focused on public policy "not a Republican policy or Democratic policy, but what was the best policy for the American people'.
President Obama urged the Senate to confirm his nomination as soon as possible.
Hagel is a two-term former U.S. Senator from Nebraska and a Vietnam veteran who earned two Purple Hearts. He served on Intelligence and Foreign Relations committees and also in the Veteran's Administration during Reagan's presidency.
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