Hagel, McCain tangle over Iraq

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Republican Sen. John McCain is tangling with Chuck Hagel over his past statements about the Iraq war. The Arizona Republican says that his dissatisfaction Hagel's answers could affect whether he votes for or against the former Republican senator who is President Barack Obama's choice for secretary of defense.

McCain, a strong backer of the 2007 troop surge, on Thursday pressed Hagel whether he was right or wrong in his opposition to the influx of 30,000 troops. Hagel declined to give a simple answer, seeking to elaborate and saying that Iraq took the U.S. focus off Afghanistan.

Earlier in the hearing, Hagel said he cannot be defined by a single vote or quote. He insists that his worldview hasn't changed and the United States must maintain the strongest military in the world and lead internationally.

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