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Since he left the Senate, Hagel has been a big critic of his own party. He told the Financial Times in 2011 that he was “disgusted” by the “irresponsible actions” of Republicans during the debt-ceiling debate.
In 2012 he endorsed a Democrat candidate for Senate from Nebraska - former Senator Bob Kerrey - instead of Republican Deb Fischer, who won.
Hagel would not be the first Republican to serve Obama as Pentagon chief. Bob Gates, Obama’s first defense secretary, was a holdover from the years of Republican President Bush.
AS A SENATOR, CLASHED WITH OTHER REPUBLICANS
While he was in the Senate as a senior member of the Foreign Relations, Banking, and Intelligence Committees, Hagel often clashed with his party’s leaders on foreign and defense policy.
He co-sponsored legislation to ease U.S. trade restrictions with Cuba, and voted against trade sanctions on Iran and Libya.
In 2002 Hagel said the U.S. should try to improve relations with the countries Bush had branded an “axis of evil” - Iraq, Iran, and North Korea.
The same year, when Hagel expressed doubts about the Bush administration’s buildup to war in Iraq, the conservative Weekly Standard magazine branded him part of an “axis of appeasement.” But Hagel did vote to give the president the authority to carry out the March 2003 invasion.
Later Hagel said he regretted that vote and became a persistent critic of the conflict. In January 2007, he was the only Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to support a non binding measure that criticized Bush’s decision to send more troops to Iraq.