Sen. Deb Fischer says the exit of former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense didn’t really surprise her, and adds whoever succeeds him doesn’t really matter.
Fischer, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, says there had been indications Hagel, the former United States Senator from Nebraska, would step down as Defense Secretary after only about two years on the job.
“I wasn’t too surprised by the Secretary’s resignation,” Fischer tells Nebraska reporters during a conference call. “We are hearing all sorts of different reports here.”
Fischer praises Hagel’s service to the country and the state.
Fischer and Hagel have a bit of a history. Hagel came out in support of Democrat Bob Kerrey during his United States Senate race against Fischer in 2012. Sen. Mike Johanns at the time speculated that Hagel made the endorsement to secure a cabinet position in the Obama Administration. Hagel denied that motivated his decision to back Kerrey.
When Obama nominated Hagel, Johanns voted to confirm him while Fischer voted against Hagel’s confirmation. Fischer stated her vote had nothing to do with the Hagel endorsement of Kerrey.
Hagel has stated he will continue to work as Secretary of Defense until his successor is in place.
Reports from Washington indicate President Barack Obama will nominate former Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to replace Hagel. Carter, who was in charge of buying weapons systems during his days at the Defense Department, must be confirmed by the Senate.
Fischer says she believes it will make little difference.
“I don’t think it matters who the Secretary of Defense is,” Fischer says. “We’ve known for quite a while that the president has an inner circle of advisors within the White House that he depends upon, that he listens to.”
Fischer affirms other reports from Washington that the president seems to give more weight to advice from that inner circle than to members of his cabinet.
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]