Speaking to Fox News host Neil Cavuto, McCain said that he still believed that Hagel would get the votes required to be confirmed. What followed was the clearest indication yet that he’s still bitter that Hagel turned against the Iraq War:
McCAIN: But to be honest with you, Neil, it goes back to there’s a lot of ill will towards Senator Hagel because when he was a Republican, he attacked President Bush mercilessly and say he was the worst President since Herbert Hoover and said the surge was the worst blunder since the Vietnam War, which was nonsense. He was anti-his own party and people — people don’t forget that. You can disagree but if you’re disagreeable, then people don’t forget that.
Watch McCain’s statements here:
McCain had just voted “no” on the bid to end debate on Hagel’s nomination, supporting the Republican filibuster. Just days ago, McCain insisted that he would do no such thing, and is currently claiming that he’ll vote to break the filibuster following the Senate’s President’s Day recess ten days from now.
The two, formerly close friends, faced off during Hagel’s confirmation hearing over the success of the 2007 surge in Iraq, highlighting McCain’s lingering frustrations with the former Republican Senator from Nebraska. That frustration is shared among many of Hagel’s other opponents, including the Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol, forming the backbone of neoconservative opposition to his confirmation. McCain is right, however, that once the filibuster breaks Hagel is still set to be confirmed in an up-or-down vote.