May 21st, 2008
10:30 AM ET
11 years ago

Hagel criticizes McCain over Iran comments

Hagel is upset with some of McCain's comments on Iran.

Hagel is upset with some of McCain's comments on Iran.

(CNN) - John McCain needs to cool his rhetoric attacking Barack Obama over foreign policy, one of the Arizona senator's good friends in the Senate said.

According to a report on Huffingtonpost.com, Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Republican and long time friend of McCain, said Tuesday he is "very upset" with some of the things the party's presumptive presidential nominee has been saying as he campaigns for the White House.

"We know from past campaigns that presidential candidates will say many things," Hagel reportedly said. "But once they have the responsibility to govern the country and lead the world, that difference between what they said and what responsibilities they have to fulfill are vastly different."

"I'm very upset with John with some of the things he's been saying," Hagel added. "And I can't get into the psychoanalysis of it. But I believe that John is smarter than some of the things he is saying. He is, he understands it more. John is a man who reads a lot, he's been around the world. I want him to get above that and maybe when he gets into the general election, and becomes the general election candidate he will have a higher-level discourse on these things."

Hagel, who is not running for reelection in November, has become an outspoken critic of the War in Iraq and he said in April he is open to the possibility of endorsing Obama's candidacy.

Speaking Tuesday night at the Italian ambassador's Washington residence, Hagel specifically took issue with McCain's criticisms of Obama's position that he would be willing to meet with leaders like Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinjad without preconditions.

"I never understand how anyone in any realm of civilized discourse could sort through the big issues and challenges and threats and figure out how to deal with those without engaging in some way," Hagel said.

Hagel's comments follow a prolonged back and forth between both McCain and Obama over the best way to deal with Iran. Speaking to CNN Tuesday, Obama said McCain "essentially wants to continue George Bush’s policies of not talking to leaders we don’t like and not talking to countries we don’t like."
McCain suggested at a Chicago campaign event Monday that Obama doesn’t understand the "basic realities of international relations" and that engaging Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad diplomatically would only embolden him.

"Senator Obama has declared, and repeatedly reaffirmed his intention to meet the President of Iran without any preconditions, likening it to meetings between former American Presidents and the leaders of the Soviet Union," said McCain. "Such a statement betrays the depth of Senator Obama’s inexperience and reckless judgment."


Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (463 Responses)
  1. don kraus

    I'm becoming increasingly impressed with those politicians like Hagel who are stepping up and opposing their party's campaign-tactics. The sniping and back-biting that has become characteristic of political campaigns has frustrated the American pubic for too many years and it's about time our elected officials do the right thing and oppose such tactics. They may never completely go away but it's refreshing to see that some of our politicians are actually responsible people after all.
    -Don Kraus

    May 21, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  2. MT

    I think the Repub party is setting McSame up for failure so Hucabee can slide in to take his place at the convention.

    May 21, 2008 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  3. Marv...

    I don't think he is the only Republican who can see the flaws and mistakes of the Bush Administration. He's the only one willing to say anything about these issues. There are many Republicans who disagree with the direction that this country has taken. If we can stop labeling each other as liberals and conservatives and put forth some policies that benefit this great country of ours and uplift it people, we would be well on our way to a greater nation. First order of business is to get some education to W. VA and Kentucky so we can end this racisms and fear of people who don't look the same as they do.

    If you are from one of these states and feel offended by that last statement, then don’t be angry with me. Talk to your neighbors and tell them to stop perpetrating as good people and be honest with themselves and the world. Shout from the highest mountain top and let all the people of this land and country know that you are a 100% racist. Don’t hide behind Rev. Wright’s comments nor use them as a conduit to project your own racist views. Don’t be cowards, boldly stand before your God and this world and say exactly who you are…..

    May 21, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  4. Mac in Denver

    I read this discussion string, and one phrase came to mind: "herd mentality." And to think these clowns are coming to my town in August – – –

    May 21, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  5. Clinton/McCain

    What? McCain was right! I'm sick and tired of people treating Obama like the Messiah when he's more like the devil.

    May 21, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  6. Well...

    This is interesting. A Republican sticking up for a Dem. It will also be interesting to see if Hagel will turn to Obama. That will be an interesting match up to say the least. Have to wonder what is Hagel's angle?

    May 21, 2008 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  7. Richard

    Obama/Hagel 2008..!

    May 21, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  8. anon

    alex richards said: Hey, Democrats, lets make a trade straight up, we will give you Hagel for Lieberman.

    ______________________________________________________

    It's a deal if you'll take Hillary Clinton too and give us a cheeseburger.

    May 21, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  9. MBFLA

    The only people who vote for McBush will those too ignorant to realize he will bring us endless war and ultimately bankrupt our country through debt. Do not allow yourself to be controlled by fear!

    May 21, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  10. dallenva

    McCain and Obama have a legitimate difference of opinion when it comes to foreign policy, yet Hagel is upset with McCain for expressing where he thinks Obama is wrong? That's pathetic, and is clear political pandering for whatever office Hagel thinks he might get in an Obama Administration.

    If Hagel wants to talk to Iran so badly, I'm sure he can afford a plane trip over there to do it himself.

    May 21, 2008 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  11. Eric

    So many people are saying Obama's VP, but I don't see that. I think it's a lot more likely he might be aiming for (or would be very good if offered) Obama's SecDef.

    May 21, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  12. Eileen

    If MCain wants to win he'll have to fight as dirty as the democrats. Obama shows how green he is. He obviously doesn't know what he is talking about. He will not keep this country safe. He can not be trusted. NOBAMAS in the White House.

    May 21, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  13. KMAN

    McThuselah is a cranky old man who lacks the temperment and vision to become the leader of the free world. He was wrong on the Vietman War ... he was wrong on the Iraq War ... and getting shot down while flying bombing missions on a civilian population doesn't make you a hero. He represents the past and his time has come and gone ... the same fools that voted for Bush twice think McThuselah is a viable leader? They are fools once again. He's a shameless panderer and major league flip-flopper!

    May 21, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  14. Doug, MN

    McCain has nothing against Barack, he's grabbing at air.

    Also, this is not a battle between McCain and Barack, this is a battle between McCain and America. Of course AMERICA will win.

    America 08

    May 21, 2008 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  15. Lazarito

    GO OBAMA!!!!!!The Cuban people need someone like you!!!I wanna be able to help my family and friends in Cuba,and visit them as often as I want!!!You the only one that will help me see my daughter in Cuba whenever I want!!OBAMA 2008!!McCain is promising the same thing we had in 50 years!!Enough of that!!!!!!!

    May 21, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  16. Jane

    Welcome to the "new & improved" John McCain. The John McCain who shared the respect of thoughtful Democrats and Republicans over the years has sold out his principles, his thoughtfulness, and his independent style in order to change his address to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Go Obama – for ALL of the people!

    May 21, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  17. DoneWithDems

    Nice try libs. John's right on this one. Go back to your bickering and pathetic delusions.

    McCain 08

    May 21, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  18. vic nashville,Tn

    Mc Cain resemble G.W.BUSH
    Obama resemble Jimmy Carter
    G..W.Bush and Jimmy Carter worst presidents we had

    May 21, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  19. Soon to be former GOPer in GA

    Senator McCain needs to cut his ties to Karl Rove from his advisory team pretty promptly - look at what has happened to GOP candidates in the 3 special elections recently where Rove, Bush, and Cheney were involved.

    May 21, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  20. PETER

    MCCAIN IS JUST ANOTHER PHONY PATRIOT THAT FEELS TORTURE WORKS BECAUSE IT WORKED ON HIM WHEN HE GAVE AWAY STATE SECRETS IN VIETNAM

    May 21, 2008 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  21. nowlin

    There is a time when sound advice and good thinking should win. Mc cain has experiance, however I am looking for better results than his experiance has shown. He (McCain),does not realize that he has to make decisions about our most valuable resource ! PEOPLE.

    May 21, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  22. Ian

    What's the problem with what Chuck said? It's not his fault the Dems are following the Repub. platform more than the Repubs are.

    Ron Paul '08

    May 21, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  23. Brian

    Hagel has integrity and is not afraid to call it as he sees it, my only question is where was he when GW was getting us into this mess?!?

    May 21, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  24. TEXAN

    You are a smart man Senator Hagel...and we the Obama people will welcome you aboard this great Movement.

    I think you will be a great support for Obama, you are a wise man and have been in the ring for a long time, Thanks Again!

    OBAMA 08' and maybe Hagel for VP....Webb or Clark

    May 21, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  25. E. POWELL I MD, E POWELL MD II & ER. POWELL MD

    A FRIEND IN NEED IS A FRIEND IN DEED. WHO WOULD KNOW MCBUSH BETTER THAN MR. HAGEL. WE FEEL AS MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS THAT MR. MCCAIN MENTAL STABILITY MUST BE A
    JUSTIFIABLE ISSUE DURING THIS GENERAL ELECTION SEASON. THE NEWS MEDIA CAN CALL IT FILP-FLOPING IF THEY WANT TO. SOME CAN CALL IT LYING. BUT LIKE WE HAVE BLOGGED IN THE PAST, HE HAS ALL THE SIGNS OF EARLY DEMENTIA. HIS INABILITY TO REMEMBER FROM ONE WEEK TO THE NEXT, OR BETTER YET
    PAST MEMORY IS VERY DISTURBING. NOT TO BELABOR THE POINT, WE ARE ON THE EVE OF ELECTING THE MOST POWERFUL PERSON IN THE WORLD TO THE MOST POWERFUL POSITION AND NOT TO BE CONCERN IS ASKING FOR REAL TROUBLE. IT IS BETTER TO ASK AND BE DISCREDITED AND NOT TO ASK AND SUFFER THE OUTCOMES OF A DEMENTED MIND. WE ARE NOT QUESTIONING WHETHER HE IS OR IS NOT, BUT, NOT TO RAISE THE ISSUE WOULD BE UNGODLY. MR. HAGEL IS RIGHT ON POINT.

    May 21, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
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