DENVER - Sen. Mark Udall has gotten off the fence on former Sen. Chuck Hagel's nomination for Secretary of Defense, giving Hagel a resounding endorsement during an interview with 9NEWS Thursday.
Udall is one of several Democrats being targeted by outside political groups opposed to Hagel, accusing him of tepid support for Israel, coddling Iran and favoring unilateral nuclear disarmament.
Udall told 9NEWS anchor Kyle Clark he's "strongly inclined" to support Hagel's nomination. The previously noncommittal Democrat from Colorado issued strong praise and no criticism of the former GOP Senator nominated by President Obama.
Sen. John McCain, a supporter of the troop "surge" in Iraq in 2007, tried to get Hagel to admit he was wrong in opposing that influx of 30,000 U.S. troops. Hagel -- who has said the Iraq war shifted the focus from Afghanistan -- said he would "defer to the judgment of history" to sort that out.
In 2007, Udall made a similar statement that the surge was a tragic mistake.
Like Hagel, Udall would not say Thursday if he was wrong about the surge.
Hagel's performance in his Senate confirmation hearing Thursday has been panned by conservatives, long opposed to his nomination, as well as liberals who felt he struggled to answer questions from the committee.
(KUSA-TV © 2013 Multimedia Holdings Corporation with The Associated Press)