Obama stands by Hagel for defense secretary, White House says

Reuters Middle East

WASHINGTON, Feb 14 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama stands

behind his nominee for defense secretary, former Republican

Senator Chuck Hagel, and Senate delays in Hagel's confirmation

are "unconscionable," a White House spokesman said on Thursday.

Delays in Hagel's nomination do not send a good signal to

U.S. allies or troops, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

"The president stands strongly behind Senator Hagel,"

Earnest said. "It does not send a favorable signal for

Republicans in the United States Senate to delay a vote on the

president's nominee, a nominee who is a member of their own

party, to be the Secretary of Defense."

(Reporting By Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Vicki Allen)