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John McCain Meets with Defense Chief Nominee Chuck Hagel

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- If Arizona Sen. John McCain changed his mind about Chuck Hagel's nomination to become the next defense secretary, he wasn't about to share his feelings after meeting with the former Nebraska senator on Tuesday.

McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, has been outspoken about his reservations concerning Hagel, saying previously he questioned Hagel's overall view of the U.S. and the world.

The Hagel nomination has become problematic for the Obama administration since Republicans and some Democrats have criticized Hagel's prior stances on Israel, Iran and gays.

While hearings start next week, McCain took time to personally meet with Hagel on Tuesday, telling reporters, "We had a very frank and candid conversation.  I’ll be looking forward to the hearing and asking questions...He should be given the opportunity of a hearing before any of us make a judgment."

McCain hasn't said how he'll vote and he wouldn't say if his private chat with Hagel had made a difference.

In the meantime, Senate Armed Services chairman Carl Levin acknowledged that it's "way too early to know" whether his panel will approve Hagel's nomination to replace outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

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