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Claire McCaskill on Chuck Hagel: 'War Hero, Independent Leader'

The Missouri Democrat serves on the Senate's Armed Services Committee, which will hold hearings on the Hagel nomination.

President Barack Obama Monday formally announced his nomination of former U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska) to be the next Secretary of Defense.

Hagel would succeed Leon Panetta.

In televised remarks carried by cable news outlets, Hagel spoke of the "opportunity to strengthen our country and strengthen our country's alliances and advance global freedom, decency and humanity as we help build a better world for all mankind."

The Hagel nomination was floated for several weeks and has not been received well by some prominent members of the Senate, which will need to approve the nomination.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican, told CNN the Hagel selection is "an in-your-face pick," citing Hagel's positions on Israel.

Politico has reported on Hagel's 2006 comments referring to "the Jewish lobby" which has offended some in the Jewish community. A spokesman for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) told FreeBeacon.com that Hagel's past opposition to the U.S trade embargo with Cuba could lead to questions about his nomination.

The Hagel nomination now will proceed to the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, where Missouri's Claire McCaskill sits. Monday morning, her office released the following statement from McCaskill:

“Senator Hagel is a war hero and independent leader who’s served our country admirably for decades, and so I look forward to giving him a fair hearing in the Armed Services Committee. I especially look forward to hearing his ideas on how we can build on our recent successes combatting waste and fraud in wartime contracting, and prevent taxpayer dollars from going to overseas projects that can’t be sustained.”

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) had not released a statement regarding the nomination Monday.

Of the fireworks which could come in the process, CNN's Candy Crowley, who grew up in Creve Coeur, said "set your TiVo for the hearings."

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