Gay GOP group Log Cabin Republicans on Thursday criticized former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel, who is on President Barack Obama's short list of candidates to succeed Leon Panetta as secretary of defense.

In a full page ad in The New York Times, the group panned Hagel as a possible nominee.

“Chuck Hagel: Wrong on gay rights, wrong on Iran, wrong on Israel,” the ad states. “Tell President Obama that Chuck Hagel is wrong for Defense Secretary. Help us create a stronger and more inclusive Republican Party.”

Hagel has come under fire for comments he made in 1998 opposing James Hormel's nomination as U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg, saying he was a bad fit because he's “openly, aggressively gay.”

Hagel apologized for the comments last week.

“My comments 14 years ago in 1998 were insensitive,” Hagel said in a statement. “They do not reflect my views or the totality of my public record, and I apologize to Ambassador Hormel and any LGBT Americans who may question my commitment to their civil rights. I am fully supportive of 'open service' and committed to LGBT military families.”

Log Cabin Republicans strongly lobbied for repeal of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell.”

The nation's leading group representing LGBT troops, OutServe-SLDN, accepted Hagel's apology.

“We are pleased that Senator Hagel recognized the importance of retracting his previous statements about Ambassador Hormel and affirming his commitment to 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' repeal and LGBT military families. We look forward to learning more about his commitment to full LGBT military equality as this nomination and confirmation process unfolds,” Allyson Robinson, the group's executive director, said in a statement.