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Betsy's Trivia: Chuck Hagel Edition

Former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel is preparing for tough Senate hearings next week to confirm him as the new Secretary of Defense. In 1997 on Meet the Press, the newly elected Senator Hagel, offered some public advice for another nominee entrenched in a difficult confirmation: William Weld. Weld, the Republican Governor of Massachusetts, had been chosen by President Bill Clinton to be the new US Ambassador to Mexico – but, like Hagel of today,  proved to be a controversial choice even within his own party.  At the time, Weld’s confirmation hearing was being blocked by longtime Republican Senator Jesse Helms, then the chairman of the Committee. Helms objected to Weld’s position on a number of social issues, and would eventually be successful in blocking his confirmation. On Meet the Press in August of 1997, Hagel criticized his party’s handling of the Senate confirmation process over the past month, saying that though it was “interesting, wonderful political theater”, the Senators fighting over Weld had “denigrated the process in the United States Senate.” But on that Meet the Press, Hagel also outlined a strategy for confirmation that he seems to be following in his own bid to be Secretary of Defense today. He admonished Weld’s hostility towards his opponents, telling Tim Russert, “When you hold a news conference and kick sand in the face of the confirmation chairman…that doesn’t help anybody.” Instead, Hagel advised Weld to “quit playing politics” and to quietly sit down with Helms and his other critics on Capitol Hill. This month, Hagel has been following his own advice from a decade ago, meeting with Senators who looked likely to be the biggest roadblocks to his nomination, including Chuck Schumer and John McCain.

You can watch more of Chuck Hagel’s discussion of the Senate confirmation process on Meet the Press in the clip below.

Every week, Betsy Fischer Martin - the Executive Producer of Meet the Press - poses a trivia question on Twitter about the 65 years of history-making moments and guests on Meet The Press. Check Press Pass for answers and video clips!