Senate Chair: Count Up Hagel Vote after Hearing

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The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committees says it's best to wait until after Chuck Hagel's confirmation hearing before figuring out the votes for President Barack Obama's nominee for defense secretary.

Democratic Sen. Carl Levin, who backs Hagel's nomination, said Tuesday it was too early to count the votes. Hagel's confirmation hearing is Jan. 31. Obama tapped the former Republican senator to replace Leon Panetta, but the choice has faced strong GOP opposition.

Hagel was scheduled to meet with Republican Sen. John McCain on Tuesday. McCain has praised Hagel's Vietnam War service, but said he has serious questions.

Democrats have started to rally around Hagel, with Sens. Chuck Schumer and Barbara Boxer announcing their support last week. Levin said it was possible that Hagel gets some GOP votes.