WASHINGTON (AP) -- The White House says it expects the Senate to confirm Chuck Hagel to be the next defense secretary despite his struggles at a contentious confirmation hearing.

White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters Friday that President Barack Obama thinks Hagel will be an excellent Pentagon chief.

He dismissed criticism of Hagel's less-than-stellar performance over nearly eight hours of testimony under withering attacks from fellow Republicans.

Democrats hold the majority in the Senate and no Democrats has expressed opposition to Hagel.

Republican foes grew on Friday as Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri said he would oppose the nomination. Blunt is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.