Hagel Nomination Likely To Be Tough Fight For Obama

From NBC News' First Read:

Yesterday’s official rollout of Chuck Hagel for defense secretary went about as well as it could have for the Obama White House. Statements of praise for Hagel by folks like Colin Powell and Robert Gates? Check. A statement of past praise from John McCain (who said in 2006 Hagel would make a “great secretary of state”), even though McCain is now taking a skeptical look at the nominee? Check. And getting Chuck Schumer, perhaps the Democratic senator with the most reservations about Hagel, to issue a non-committal statement? Check. So the White House feels pretty good about where things stand, although this won’t be an easy fight. Yet what Team Obama can’t afford is any new negative information, any other shoe to drop. Bottom line: There is no margin for error from this point onward. Hagel’s support, at best, in the Senate is an inch deep and that “inch” would get him the votes he needs. But it wouldn’t take much for the bottom to, well, fall out. This is going to be a precarious few weeks. Very few senators are in D.C. right now, so the interest groups will be front and center. Hagel needs his confirmation hearing sooner, rather than later, but right now, it’s unclear when those hearings will be scheduled. Hagel also needs FACE time with senators, and he won’t have that opportunity for a good week or so. 

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