Sen. Hagel did not mince words with his assessment of the Bush administration Wednesday.
WASHINGTON (CNN) – Sen. Chuck Hagel, a leading Republican lawmaker who has come out against the Iraq war, had some harsh words for the Bush White House Wednesday, calling it "one of the most arrogant" administrations he's ever seen.
"I would rate this one the lowest in capacity, in capability, in policy, in consensus - almost every area, I would give it the lowest grade," Hagel said during an event at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.
Hagel supported the 2002 congressional resolution that authorized the invasion of Iraq the following year, but earlier this year he called Bush's plan to send thousands of additional U.S. troops to Iraq "the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam."
The two-term Nebraska senator flirted with a presidential bid last spring, but ultimately announced in September he has no plans to seek the White House and intends to leave the Senate when his term ends in 2009.
Speaking Wednesday, Hagel said the administration "squandered" opportunities following the attacks on 9/11.
"I think of this administration, what they could have done after 9/11, what was within their grasp," he said. "Every poll in the world showed 90 percent of the world for us. Iran had some of the first spontaneous demonstrations on the streets of Tehran supporting America."
"There's where they have failed the country," Hagel continued. "They've squandered the time and the opportunity that they had, and the next president is going to take four years to not only dig out from under that."
Despite Hagel’s insistence he has no plans to run for president, speculation persists that he and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg may pair up for a third-party Independent bid. The two even reportedly had dinner Wednesday night.
"Bloomberg's got the money - I think it'd be Bloomberg-Hagel," the senator joked when asked about the speculation.
– CNN Ticker Producer Alexander Mooney