TODAY | January 07, 2013
>>> a battle is brewing over the president's pick for secretary of defense, former senator chuck hagel . chuck todd is nbc's political correspondent. good morning to you.
>> good morning, matt. two members of his national security team today, new cia director and, of course, a new secretary of defense. john brennan , the president's chief counterterrorism adviser in the west wing . it's actually a post brennan has wanted for years and now is going to get it. as for defense, this is the third time the president has had to fill an opening at the pentagon. for the second time, his choice is a republican. this time it's former senator chuck hagel , which is already touching off a big political fight. before chuck hagel can take over at the pentagon, he must be confirmed by the senate and he's already facing an uphill battle . even though democrats control the senate, nbc news has learn ed as many as 10 democratic senators could vote against hagel. public publicly, leading democrats have not expressed much support.
>> i would have to study his record.
>> as a republican, he may find support from his old republican colleagues to come by.
>> there will be a lot of tough questions of senator hagel , but he will be treated fairly.
>> reporter: he became known as a thorn in the side of republicans turning against the iraq war in 2007 .
>> most divisive since vietnam.
>> i have served with chuck hagel . i know him. he is a patriot.
>> reporter: after once referring to certain proisraeli groups as a, quote, jewish-lami.
>> this is an in your face nomination from the president to those of us who are supportive of israel.
>> reporter: openly gay nominee who chuck hagel called openly grifsly gay. and barney frank , who may end up as a temporary senator during the confirmation hearings says i cannot think of any other minority group in the u.s. today where such a negative statement in 1998 would not be an obstacle. a defense secretary who wore the uniform and who will be comfortable standing up to the generals. and debate with those generals over afghanistan troop levels became quite contentious in 2010 . in a new book, the president's former afghanistan commander, general stanley mcchrystal noted what he called the emergence of an unfortunate deficit of trust between the white house and the department of defense . the president will make these nominations formal after lunch today, matt. initial choice for cia before he actually even took the oath of office , but a lot of groups on the left were upset with brennan 's positions on torture at the time. those are things that brennan has since cleared up. matt?
>> chuck todd in washington this morning. thank you very much.