Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE) on Saturday said Chuck Hagel "earned" his support to be the next defense secretary, the Lincoln (Neb.) Journal Star reported.
Following an initial report indicating that he would become the second Republican in the Senate to back Hagel, Johanns said that his fellow Cornhusker reassured him on a number of key issues during a private, one-hour meeting. If Hagel had not assuaged him — particularly on a number issues related to the Middle East — Johanns said he would have opposed the nomination, even though the two are friends.
From the Journal Star:
"Chuck earned this endorsement," Johanns said.
Johanns said he received all the assurances he needed during a private one-hour meeting with Hagel that "he will stand side by side with our allies, be firm with our enemies and use good judgment" as secretary of defense.
"He was absolutely clear that he will be a strong defender of Israel, and that's very important to me," Johanns said.
"He was absolutely clear that he believes the use of force must remain on the table as an option against Iran, and that's the position we must maintain."