Lindsey Graham and Chuck Hagel seem to have made nice for the time being. Graham said on Fox News Sunday this morning that Hagel wrote him a letter denying ever connecting the State Department to the Israeli Foreign Minister's office. It was alleged that Hagel made the implication that the Department was merely an extension of the Israeli office while speaking at Rutgers University in 2007. It was a serious point of contention during Hagel's marathon confirmation session with the Senate a few weeks ago. "He did not recall saying that," Graham said on Sunday. "He disavows saying that. [...] If that's true, that would end that matter." Graham even implied he might be ready to let the confirmation go forward... unless something new comes up. "I will take him at his word," Graham said, "until something else comes along." But that doesn't mean Graham is all of a sudden going to switch his vote in Hagel's favor. He still thinks the President's choice for Secretary of Defense is a terrible one. Hagel is "one of the most unqualified, radical choices for Secretary of Defense in a very long time," Graham said.
And it seems Sen. John McCain is ready to move on, too. He said Republicans need to step back and let the President's confirmation go forward when Senate resumes this week during an appearance on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday. "We will have a vote when we get back," McCain said. "And I'm confident that Senator Hagel will probably have the votes necessary to be confirmed as secretary of defense." But that doesn't mean he's switching his vote to "aye," either. "No, I don't believe he's qualified, but I don't believe we should hold up his confirmation any further," McCain told host David Gregory Sunday morning. "I think it's a reasonable amount of time to have questions answered -- not two days worth." He did make sure to get one last disapproving dig in at his old friend, just like Graham. McCain said Hagel is "the most unimpressive [Defense Secretary nominee] that I've ever seen."
New York Sen. Chuck Schumer wasn't letting the President's leaked immigration reform proposal get to him Sunday morning. Speaking with Candy Crowley on CNN's State of the Union, Schumer said nothing has changed in how he sees his immigration proposal going forward. "I don't know what bill the president has out there. I haven't seen it," Schumer said. He is one of eight Senators, including Marco Rubio, working on a bipartisan immigration reform plan. "But they did say last night — I don't know how it occurred — that it wasn't their final or complete bill. ... I know that Sen. Rubio is upset with the leak." Crowley asked if the leak upset him, as it could be seen the President is either putting undue pressure on the Senators, or undermining their efforts somehow. "I'm not upset," Schumer said. The New York Senator said he expects to have a deal ready to bring forward by March.
One person who isn't ready for Chuck Hagel to be confirmed is Sen. John Barrasso. The Wyoming Senator who opposes Hagel's nomination told Candy Crowley on State of the Union that Hagel is "being rushed through." "He's going to be less effective because of the fact the president nominated him," Barrasso said. "I think it is going to impact him as he tries to limp across the finish line to get confirmed." Barasso said Hagel was "wrong about Iran, wrong about Israel, wrong in Iraq, wrong with nuclear weapons."
On Fox News Sunday, Rand Paul said he won't make any commitment about running for President until 2014 -- and then Paul said he thinks the country is ready for a Libertarian candidate. "I would absolutely not run unless it were to win," Paul said. "Points have been made, and we we will continue to make points. But I think the country is really ready for the narrative coming -- the Libertarian Republican narrative." Paul wants the Republican party to adopt less aggressive foreign policy, comprehensive immigration reform and push for less aggressive punishments for non-violent drug crime. "We're doing fine in congressional seats, but we're becoming less and less of a national party," Paul said.
On ABC's This Week, Paul Ryan sounded a lot less like a candidate laying out a potential campaign platform while still playing coy about whether he'll run in 2016. "Will I or won't I? I don't know," Ryan told guest host Jon Karl. "I literally do not know the answer to these questions about what is the best role for me to play to fix these problems for our country in the future." He did leave the door open for potentially throwing his hat in the race down the road. "The point is I don't know the answer because I'm just not putting a great deal of thought into it. I'm not foreclosing any opportunity. I may, or I may not. I just don't know because right now we just had an election. We've got jobs to do," he said.
New White House chief of staff Denis McDonough was tasked with playing damage control over the leak of the President's backup immigration plan on ABC's This Week. He said the President is still working on drafts of his plan in case Senate or Congress fail to act. "We've not proposed anything to Capitol Hill yet," McDonough said. "We've got a bill, we're doing exactly what the president said we would do last month in Las Vegas, which is we're preparing. We're going to be ready. We have developed each of these proposals so we have them in a position so that we can succeed." McDonough laid out the President's principals of an immigration plan. "One, let's make sure that the border is secure," he explained. "Two, let's make sure that we enforce on businesses who are gaming the system, enforce their requirements to live up to the law. Three, make sure that we are reforming legal immigration so that we can use it to make sure that those who have come here legally have a reasonable option."
Now that Frank Lautenberg finally announced his retirement, the door is open for Cory Booker to confirm what everyone already knows: that he's going to run for Senate in 2014. Unfortunately, Booker is still holding off. "That clearly is a job I'm interested in," the Newark mayor said Sunday on CBS' Face the Nation. "We did what we had to do by law to file the federal account. I'll spend the coming months exploring that. But right now, we have one election in New Jersey, which is our statewide gubernatorial and legislative elections." Booker said he'll focus on those before he gets around to committing to his Senate bid. "Next year, the election for Senate will take care of itself," Booker said. "Again, I hope to be one of those people that the residents of New Jersey will consider giving the honor of fighting for them on the federal level."