Countering the Republican-led opposition to President Barack Obama's nominee for defense secretary is a less flashy but powerful constituency: military veterans.
Veterans' organizations have praised Chuck Hagel, a twice-wounded combat veteran of Vietnam and deputy administrator in President Ronald Reagan's Veterans Administration.
Republican-leaning outside groups have waged a well-funded campaign against Hagel in hopes of pressuring senators.
Hagel's first test could come as early as Thursday, with a possible vote in the Senate Armed Services Committee. Some Republicans are pressing for a delay in the vote, seeking more information from Hagel.
The former two-term Republican senator from Nebraska said in a letter to the committee that he has been forthright in providing all required information