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Hagel Decision Imminent

Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.)'s announcement that he will make a decision on his political future Monday in Omaha has set off furious speculation about what that next step might be.

His options run the gamut from a presidential bid as either a Republican or an independent, a re-election bid to the Senate or a retirement. I wrote a piece that just went on that seeks to sort through the speculation and offer some insight on what Hagel might do.

Use the comments section below to offer your own opinion about what Hagel's next step should be.

By Chris Cillizza  |  March 8, 2007; 6:29 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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Posted by: anonymous | March 16, 2007 11:42 PM | Report abuse

If anything, the comments here show clearly that Hagel is popular, amongst Dems and Independents. That would make him unelectable in the Repub primary (Dem = enemy, so Hagel = friend of my enemy = enemy).

I would hope he'd run as an independent, pick up someone similarly principled as running mate (Bloomberg? finances wouldn't be a problem then!) and then run as a real "bring decency back to Washington" ticket. If a couple of ambitious politicians win the Dem & Repub primary (Romney/Giuliani & Clinton spring to mind) America may well be tempted by them...

If Hagel runs as a Repub, he can't then switch to Unity, can he?

Posted by: JayPe | March 11, 2007 8:06 PM | Report abuse

ok, hagel seems like a decent guy. but no one should forget that he is still a conservative republican, and espouses many of the same unfortunate positions held by the current clowns.

don't get me wrong - i respect both hagel and mccain (although mccain a little less after his pandering), and would prefer either of them over giuliani or romney (ugh.) however, some of the hagel / mccain views, especially on social issues and taxes, don't work for me.

question for everybody - i was on yahoo on friday morning, and saw in the news headlines one which said that romney had undergone a "conversion experience" on his campaign bus, complete with lights in the sky and a deep booming voice. as a result, he was supposedly planning to switch from mormonism to an evangelical southern christian church.

i so wanted this to be true - it made my morning, i laughed my a$$ off, but when i looked for the story later i couldn't find it, and none of the traditional news outlets said anything... so i now am guessing it was planted by one of his rivals' campaigns. does anyone know what i', talking about? did anyone else see this story on yahoo?

Posted by: meuphys | March 11, 2007 11:11 AM | Report abuse

I like Hagel in a lot. I won't vote for him, but I'd love to put the Iraq war debate front and center in this campaign. Let the repubs squirm a little.

Posted by: Fulch | March 11, 2007 10:43 AM | Report abuse


McCain admits collaborating with his captors. No problem there because it was the result of torture.

From Wikipedia: McCain signed an anti-American propaganda message which was written in Vietnamese, but only as a result of rigorous and brutal torture methods, which to this day have left him incapable of raising his arms above his head. According to McCain, signing the propaganda message is something he most regrets during his time as a POW. After McCain signed the statement, the Vietnamese decided they could not use it. They tried to force him to sign a second statement, and this time he refused.[12] Alexander, Paul (2002). John McCain: Man of the People. John Wiley & Sons, pp. 60.

BTW, I believe that everybody got the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry (with Palm), and many received Army Commendation Medals without doing anything other than being there. They could have sold candy bars in the PX in Cholon and received those medals.

On the other hand, the Combat Infantryman Badge and the Purple Heart had to be earned.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 9, 2007 6:36 PM | Report abuse

filmex: McCain's jumping off of the Straight Talk Express, switching positions willy-nilly, and his absurd stance on the Iraq war, makes one wonder if his travails are catching up with him.

me: perhaps the same could be said about George W. Bush and his massive intake of cocaine and alcohol before age 40.

Posted by: Loudoun Voter | March 9, 2007 4:36 PM | Report abuse

"I've met McCain. He's my Senator. And I'm very happy he was able to ride out the war in a POW camp. I'm sorry he hurt his arm ejecting from a cockpit."

Wow. I'm about as liberal as you get these days, but that's about as beyond the pale as any comment that I'm ever likely to see outside of a Swiftboat Veterans for Truth advertisement. Just a shameful, disgraceful quote in my mind.

Posted by: J. Crozier | March 9, 2007 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Loudoun, yes, Eisenhower never managed to be captured, not even in WWI when he wasn't a general commanding the overall effort.

And JFK was a hero for not only avoiding capture, but helping to save his men, who had every chance of winding up in a Japanese POW camp.

What we've learned from those that spend far too much time in a POW camp has to do with psychological damage. While James Stockdale was certainly an admirable figure, and earned the Medal of Honor for what he endured in a Vietnamese POW camp, it's hard to argue that the experience left him somewhat dazed and confused much of the time.

McCain's jumping off of the Straight Talk Express, switching positions willy-nilly, and his absurd stance on the Iraq war, makes one wonder if his travails are catching up with him.

Posted by: filmex | March 9, 2007 3:21 PM | Report abuse

The precise reason McCain has been to the right of Bush on the Iraq war, is because unlike many Viet Nam vets, he never learned any lessons from that war. That was because he spent most of it incarcerated.

Those that know what it's like to have your buddy's brains splashed all over you understand the damage these IEDs are doing.

Those that understand your can never defeat an insurgency militarily, whether its us against the Viet Cong or the French against the Algerians, have learned lessons from history.

Those that know the folly of attempting to defeat an enemy you seldom see, understand our guys in Iraq are hopelessly caught in a civil war meat grinder.

McCain has obviously learned nothing. And you are dead wrong. McCain's arms were damaged during ejection from his plane. Both arms were broken at the time he was taken prisoner. There's film footage that shows as much. But, if you're a Republican, I'm sure you can contrive your own reality.

It's interesting the guys trying to sell McCain as a hero are probably guys that voted for Bush. And Bush's subterranean goons in South Carolina in 2000 swiftboated McCain by saying he collaborated with his Viet Cong captors. So which one of your heroes is a liar, Bush or McCain? Pick one. Please.

Posted by: filmex | March 9, 2007 3:13 PM | Report abuse

The 12th Amendment states that electors from a state can't vote for a presidential candidate and a VP candidate from their state. So if Hagel ran with Kerrey, the state of Nebraska couldn't give them its electoral votes. Unless one of them changed their official residency to Wyoming, as Cheney did just before the 2000 election.

Posted by: Blarg | March 9, 2007 3:00 PM | Report abuse

I think Hagel's best chance is running as an Independant. He could choose a high profile runing mate early in the process, like fellow Nebraskan and decorated veteran Bob Kerrey. The two of them could barnstorm the country with anti-washington rhetoric that just might catch on. His chances would soar if the nominees were Clinton and Guiliani.

Posted by: new mexico moderate | March 9, 2007 2:54 PM | Report abuse

What we need most is a leader who has the courage to speak his/her mind and challenge us to really face up to our problems. I am a lifelong Democrat, but Hagel is among the few (or perhaps the only one) who meets that description.

Posted by: Maryland voter | March 9, 2007 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Blarg: That is what the hipocrite uses for best results. Remember my "Accuse your opponent of doing what you are doing and in that way you will know what you are doing." Funny how these things show up when they can be most helpful.

Posted by: lylepink | March 9, 2007 12:00 PM | Report abuse

all other republicans are very beatable, Hagel has a chance... Hagel also doesn't have to fill any specific canidate "Role" simply because he has lead not followed.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 9, 2007 11:46 AM | Report abuse

Sorry, Hagel is a loudmouth like Biden and neither have a chance to get any traction for the 2008 race. Republican voters in the early primary states are not going with Hagel and he will need to dig into his own pocket of millions to finance his race. Cough up a few million, Hagel, show you are ready to put YOUR money where YOUR mouth is. Otherwise, just stay in the Senate where you can't do as much harm.

Posted by: Sam | March 9, 2007 11:35 AM | Report abuse

This whole discussion of "Who is the best veteran" gets more absurd with each passing day.

filmex: I generally think William is an idiot, but your response to him was nonsensical. When was Eisenhower in harm's way during World War II? Not much chance of him being captured. As for JFK, he only got his PT boat cut in half. That's very impressive too.

Posted by: Loudoun Voter | March 9, 2007 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Just because the late nights joked about the sex does not mean that it influenced the Impeachment hearings. I supported the impeachment because of the perjury. Everyone I know supported (that supported the Hearings) were mad at the perjury. I never met anyone that supported the hearings because he cheated on his wife.

Posted by: Dan W | March 9, 2007 11:04 AM | Report abuse

Run Newt Run!


David Letterman, Jay Leno, Conan O'Brien, Bill Maher, Jon Stewart....

Posted by: Loudoun Voter | March 9, 2007 10:59 AM | Report abuse

It's true that Clinton was impeached for perjury. But most of the outrage (and Leno monologue jokes) about the Lewinsky scandal focused on the sex, not the perjury. Gingrich got a lot of mileage out of the perceived moral failures of Bill Clinton, including his extramarital affairs, while conducting an affair of his own.

Posted by: Blarg | March 9, 2007 10:57 AM | Report abuse

OD, You are really about to set me off on this one
"Hagel didn't oppose the war. He just noticed sooner than others did that America had lost it."

The american troops did not lose the war, they won it Beautifully. Absolutely stunning victory.

If you want to criticize the political failures of the occupation, no complaints from me.

Posted by: Dan W | March 9, 2007 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Hagel will get my vote no matter how he runs.

Posted by: shannon | March 9, 2007 10:42 AM | Report abuse


I dont considere him a hippocrit. If Clinton had not committed PERJURY in court regarding Monica then yes I would consider him a hippocrit. However, Clinton was impeached for perjury, not for any private activities that are none of our business. Yes, I consider it none of our business outside of the context of the lawsuit against him at the time.

All else is between Bill and Hill and is none of our business.

Posted by: Dan W | March 9, 2007 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Judge: The impeachment of Bubba was a huge mistake, IMO, and for Newt to come out now just goes to show some of what drindl and others have been saying for a long time. Politicians keeps turning folks off by their actions.

Posted by: lylepink | March 9, 2007 10:39 AM | Report abuse

For anyone stupid enough to think that "riding out the war in a POW camp" was fun or easy, I suggest reading "In Love, In War" by Vice Admiral James B. and Sybil Stockdale. I'm not a McCain fan, but he is permanently disabled from torture and inhumane incarceration and not just from ejecting from a plane, as was Admiral Stockdale.

Posted by: Joe Voter | March 9, 2007 9:28 AM | Report abuse


"Gingrich acknowledged he was having an extramarital affair even as he led the charge against President Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky affair....Gingrich argued in the interview, however, that he should not be viewed as a hypocrite for pursuing Clinton's infidelity."

OK, that's a little too far out of the box, Newt. Your picture appears next to the word 'hypocrite' in my dictionary and I suspect I'm not alone.

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | March 9, 2007 8:57 AM | Report abuse

'In 2002 he won re-election with 83% of the vote, so I guess you could say if he ran again he'd retain his seat! '

That was a surprise upset--and Hagel owned the voting machines. It was more than suspicious and never investigated.

Yeah, he's smart -- but I would never trust him.

Posted by: Anonymous | March 9, 2007 8:02 AM | Report abuse

William: I just thought of something concerning some of the folks that are accuseing you of being a bigot and racist. "He's/She's is not prejudiced against you. He's/She's is just prejudiced in favor of them self.". Hope this helps you, and others, understand, IMO, the feeling most of us have.

Posted by: lylepink: | March 9, 2007 7:22 AM | Report abuse

Ride out the war in a POW camp? You've got to be kidding. Would you have been willing to take his place?

Posted by: THS | March 9, 2007 6:30 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the update, William.

The only reason McCain ever saw the enemy up close was because he managed to be captured by them.

Hagel had his buddies blown up in his foxhole, and fought in hand to hand combat. That's why he was awarded the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

I've met McCain. He's my Senator. And I'm very happy he was able to ride out the war in a POW camp. I'm sorry he hurt his arm ejecting from a cockpit.

But, as with Eisenhower and JFK, we generally elect guys that managed to keep from being captured, so why dont you STFU, you chickenhawk armchair general.

Posted by: filmex | March 9, 2007 3:28 AM | Report abuse

As a life-long Democrat & a Marine Grunt Viet Vet, I'd like to see a Hagel/Webb (or vice versus) Presidential Ticket in '08'. We do not need any Leaders in this 'Day & Age' that dodged their involvement in the VN War and then have the Gall to 'lie' us into a War w/o a Plan and then choose a Leader unqualified to prevent an Insurgency afterwards, such as 'Medal of Freedom' winner, J Paul Bremer. If you haven't followed the 'Foul-Ups' from the 'Neon-Conners', the Bright Lights of this Administration, read Cobra II & Fiasco for info starting right after 9/11.
Semper Fi to All Who Have Served & Are Now Serving!
Mike-Cpl., USMC, 0311-'64-68'

Posted by: Mike L. | March 9, 2007 3:24 AM | Report abuse

Hagel would make it an interesting presidential campaign. A Vietnam vet who isn't a Bushie! I recall his speech on the war resolution, something like "I'll vote yes but keep a sharp eye on what happens".

To use an old Mark Russell line, Hagel is a "card carrying serious person", and we sure need more of those in national politics.

Posted by: GHDEL | March 9, 2007 2:58 AM | Report abuse

mountain man, I thought you were a huge Huckabee fan?

Posted by: William | March 9, 2007 1:54 AM | Report abuse

"And unlike McCain, he KNOWS war because he was a combat veteran who had to fight the enemy face to face, not from an altitude of 20,000 feet."

Ummmm....McCain was imprisoned and tortured for years in the Hanoi Hilton.

I think that's pretty face to face with war.

So STFU and don't disparage war heroes, you commie tie dye shirt wearing pacifist coward.

Posted by: William | March 9, 2007 1:53 AM | Report abuse

Sen. Hagel is not a prominent Republican. He is from a small state, holds no committee chairmanship or ranking Republican seat, holds no party position, and is barely known outside Washington. He is merely famous to political junkies.

Posted by: Ashland | March 8, 2007 11:38 PM | Report abuse

As a lifelong democrat, if it is Obama vs. Hagel, I'll vote for Obama. If it's Hagel vs. Clinton, I'll vote for Hagel.

Hagel seems to me to be this election's Straight Talk Express. He has infuriated the rightwing by not only being right on criticizing the Bush/Rumsfeld incompetence on Iraq, but he has also made the chickenhawks uncomfortable because he is a genuine war hero.

And unlike McCain, he KNOWS war because he was a combat veteran who had to fight the enemy face to face, not from an altitude of 20,000 feet.

Either way, with Obama and Hagel, I feel like I'm getting a straight shooter like Jim Webb who can only say what he feels, regardless of whether its popular or not. That's why McCain and Clinton are off the books, as far as I'm concerned.

Posted by: filmex | March 8, 2007 11:13 PM | Report abuse

He is the one republican I'd think about voting for. Hagel will spank both Hillary or Obama.

Posted by: mountain man | March 8, 2007 11:10 PM | Report abuse

As an EX Republican, only Sen Hagel can bring me back. He went to Nam when needed...Not like those two draft dodgers we have now...They talk a big long as it is others doing the fighing and dying...They make me SICK..Both of them..I honestly hope...pray...that Sen Hagel does run...PLEASE..

Posted by: Joe Zeigler | March 8, 2007 11:05 PM | Report abuse

We in the Hagel grassroots movement certainly hope he runs for President. His vision, leadership and experience are what the nation needs right now.

Posted by: Charlie | March 8, 2007 10:36 PM | Report abuse

Hagel is in, but it's a repeat of McCain 2000... The press will love him, but the voters won't. On a lighter note, Newt Gingrich admitted to having an affair while he wsa leading the effort to impeach Clinton. Check out Newt's interview with Borat:

Posted by: William | March 8, 2007 10:19 PM | Report abuse

While I respect Senator Hagel and thinks he's a fine man, I simply couldn't vote for a Republican in 2008. Nothing against Hagel, it's the garbage and stench that comes with any Republican elected to serve as president, the crazies and malcontents social misfits of the Republican right. America deserves better -- vote Democratic.

Posted by: Parakeeta Byrd | March 8, 2007 10:14 PM | Report abuse

This election strikes me as one likely to create a stronger than normal 3rd party candidate for president. Perhaps Hagel could be one. Whether that ends up happening in the center as in 1992 or on the far right remains to be seen. I think Hagel could draw some Democrats, but might end up drawing more heavily like 3-1 in favor of conservatives. It might be enough to make it a blow out for Dems.

Posted by: Jon | March 8, 2007 10:05 PM | Report abuse

would vote for hagel in a heartbeat over hillary. can't say that about any other combo in the race. a good man who was a grunt sgt in vietnam.

Posted by: aj | March 8, 2007 10:03 PM | Report abuse

Hagel will not take off.

The social conservatives Hagel might have appealed to will go to Brownback (who is also pro-business.)

The moderate Republicans Hagel would have appealed to will go to McCain, who is very similar to Hagel.

There is no role for Hagel to fill in this race, and most conservatives regard him as a McCain clone, and don't like him.

The only niche in the GOP field that now needs to be filled is the solid, electable conservative.

There are liberal Republicans galore (Giuliani, McCain, Romney, Huckabee) and far right candidates (Tancredo, Hunter.)

What we need now is to fill the solid conservative role.

Posted by: William | March 8, 2007 9:54 PM | Report abuse

Hagle is my favorite repub and he will surely shake up the GOP. The polling data that is so important, is showing big swings on a weekly, if not daily basis.

Posted by: lylepink | March 8, 2007 9:48 PM | Report abuse

I am a Democrat who would give serious consideration to voting for Sen. Hagel, if he ran for the Republican nomination and if the race for the Democratic nomination was not close in my state. I would also give Sen. Hagel a look should he decide to run as an Independent or National Unity candidate. A three or four way race for the Presidency would be help invigorate the political process.

If Sen. Hagel chooses not to run or is defeated, the winner would be wise to appoint Sen. Hagel to the position of Secretary of Defense.

Posted by: dpl2102 | March 8, 2007 9:46 PM | Report abuse

Calling Hagel "anti-war" seems a bit odd, since he voted in favour of attacking Iraq.

Hagel didn't oppose the war. He just noticed sooner than others did that America had lost it.

Posted by: OD | March 8, 2007 9:17 PM | Report abuse

If he does announce he's running, he'll be the first guy the GOP has put up who hasn't flip flopped on the Iraq war, abortion, ethics in government, etc. The rest of them are just panderers, and they pander to the lowest common denominator in the party ---- religious fundamentalist radicals who want to replace The Constitution with the Bible, and make no secret about it when a camera and a microphone are out of range. Good luck Chuck. Better you run as an independant, because your party is in for a wipeout in 2008.

Posted by: 1DOJACE | March 8, 2007 9:07 PM | Report abuse

I've just had a look at his resume, he's an interesting guy to be sure.

He co-founded Vanguard Cellular Systems, making him a jmulti-millionaire. He was also a CEO of a company that made election voting machines.

In 2002 he won re-election with 83% of the vote, so I guess you could say if he ran again he'd retain his seat! As far as Seniority goes he's currently 47th=, and hanging around for another 6 years would probably put him into the top third.

Although he's a loyal Republican as far as policy goes, his confrontation with Rove, and his critisicm of Cheney & the Iraq War show that he is not a party hack.

Anonymous, if he retired the seat would strongly be expected to remain Republican. They currently hold the Governors mansion and all three congressional seats. Particularly in a Presidential election year you would expect the Repub candidate to win (Nebraska has gone Republican in all elections since 1940 - except for Johnsons landslide in 1964).

Posted by: JayPe | March 8, 2007 8:29 PM | Report abuse

If Hagel announces, he'll take over McCain's "Straight Talk Express" and make a good run of it.

And, Democrats will be drawn to his gritty Webb-like personality. But he's much more than personality.

He voted for Bush-sponsored legislation more than any other Senator. If you are looking for a pro-amnesty, anti-choice, anti-Iraq and big-business-favoring candidate, Hagel is your man.

And, he still needs to explain his electronic voting machine ownership connection in two elections where he won by astounding margins.

Still, I predict many will overlook all of the above and go for the persona, which is formidable.

Posted by: Truth Hunter | March 8, 2007 8:06 PM | Report abuse

i respect hagel but don't agree with his positions on some (mostly social) issues, and thus would not vote for him. however, i think if he runs, he would raise the tone of the republican primary... assuming he did not get into bed w/ the christian right.

Posted by: meuphys | March 8, 2007 8:04 PM | Report abuse

MtMav---Hagel is one of the most conservative Senators in the Senate, and is very strongly pro-life.

Posted by: science | March 8, 2007 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Looking at the options:
1) A Unity08 candidacy
He wouldn't have a show of winning the Presidency. In this partisan political climate the two parties are in the trenches, and a vote for a 3rd party would be wasted. Their only hope would be if both parties nominated 'unelectable' candidates who the rest of the country was fed up with from overexposure. But if that is the case Hagel should delay as long as possible.

2) Repub candidate for President
Would he have a shot? I don't think so, not as Brownback cautiously moves against the war. The slot of conservative anti-war candidate is almost filled. His one hope may be for the war to fall apart, and he suddenly becomes prominant (having had time to build a campaign) - but I think he's too late for that, and the other candidates would move quickly as Iraq continued to deteriorate.

3) Re-run for the Senate/Retire
If he wants it, its his for the taking. A fairly safe Repub seat, but staying in the minority until at least 2012 may not appeal (next two elections there are way more Repubs up for reelection than Dems). Maybe he's bored of the Senate? Does he still have business interests he could go back to?

Posted by: JayPe | March 8, 2007 7:22 PM | Report abuse

If he gives up the Senate seat does it come into play?

Posted by: Anonymous | March 8, 2007 7:22 PM | Report abuse

Is Hagel Pro Choice or Pro Life? Anyone know? Thanks.

Posted by: MtMav | March 8, 2007 7:20 PM | Report abuse

Good! I hope he does run. Mr. Hagel, although a bit conservative for my tastes, is a patriot, an honest guy, and someone who actually listens to people. With John Edwards and Obama on the Democratic side, we might just have a chance as a country, electing a decent President. God only knows, we haven't had one since Reagan.

Posted by: MikeB | March 8, 2007 6:57 PM | Report abuse

Hagel is a cosponsor of S. 2611 a pathway to amnesty, welfare and crime that can't be deported. Hagel should run for President of Mexico. If he doesn't favor military action on Iran and Pakistan he might consider those countries as well.

Posted by: Old Atlantic | March 8, 2007 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Hagel stands out as the only Republican with a significant following who has not sold out one way or another. I am a Democrat, but I still know that our nation needs two sane and responsible parties. Hagel would be our only hope for a sane and responsible Republican alternative, whereas the Democrats have a whole flock of worthy candidates.

Posted by: oldhonky | March 8, 2007 6:38 PM | Report abuse

The New York Times is reporting that Hagel is in. It should be interesting to have an anti-war candidate in the Republican field.

Posted by: Mike | March 8, 2007 6:37 PM | Report abuse

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