Santorum to oppose Hagel nomination

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santorumBy Paul Steinhauser – CNN Political Editor, Washington (CNN) — Rick Santorum will launch a drive against the nomination of former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel as Defense secretary, CNN has learned.

Santorum, the former senator from Pennsylvania and 2012 GOP presidential candidate, Wednesday will announce his opposition to President Barack Obama’s Monday announcement that he’s nominating Hagel to succeed retiring Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, according to John Brabender, a top political adviser to Santorum.

And Brabender tells CNN that Patriot Voices, the pro-Santorum run 501(c)4 advocacy group, will go up with online ads opposing the nomination.

Santorum, who served with Hagel in the Senate ten years and who was a member of the Armed Services Committee, opposes the nomination because of Hagel’s positions on Iran and Israel, according to Brabender.

Hagel has drawn criticism from both Republicans and Democrats for his perceived lack of support for Israel. The former senator from Nebraska pushed back earlier this week, telling the Lincoln Journal Star that there is “not one shred of evidence that I’m anti-Israeli, not one (Senate) vote that matters that hurt Israel.”

Republicans are also critical of Hagel for opposition to the 2007 surge of U.S. forces in the war in Iraq, and of his opposition to unilateral sanctions against Iran over its nuclear weapons program.

“I have not supported unilateral sanctions because when it is us alone, they don’t work and they just isolate the United States,” Hagel has said.

Santorum, once a long shot in the 2012 race for the Republican presidential nomination, came out on top in the Iowa caucuses and battled eventual nominee Mitt Romney deep into the primary calendar before suspending his bid. Santorum is seriously considering another run for the White House in 2016.

“I’m open to that possibility,” said Santorum when asked on CNN’s “Piers Morgan Tonight” in November about another run for the White House.

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