July 27th, 2008
03:30 PM ET
6 years ago

Hagel says judgment more important than experience

Jack Reed, left, and Chuck Hagel, right, joined Barack Obama in the Middle East.
Jack Reed, left, and Chuck Hagel, right, joined Barack Obama in the Middle East.

(CNN) - Two former military men who traveled to war zones with Sen. Barack Obama (D-Illinois) say the presumptive Democratic nominee is qualified to be commander in chief, despite his lack of military experience.

Sens. Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska) and Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island) spoke to media this morning in Washington after appearing on CBS’ "Face the Nation." The two accompanied Obama to the Middle East last week.

“Each candidate has strengths and weaknesses, and experience does matter,” Hagel said. “But what matters more in my opinion is character and judgment. And judgment meaning who is it that you bring around, who is it that you listen to? Can you make the right decisions for the right reasons on behalf of your country and the world?”

Both Hagel and Reed spent years in the military. Reed attended West Point and retired as an Army captain, and Hagel earned two Purple Hearts fighting in the Vietnam War. Reed recounted the experience of traveling to military posts with Obama.

“There was something that was really dynamic,” he said. “We were trying to leave the headquarters of the 101st and we couldn't get down to the car because soldiers were flocking out of their duty positions to get autographs, to say hello, to take a picture, and it was just genuine, spontaneous and very, very enthusiastic throughout the entire trip.”

Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) has repeatedly questioned Obama’s stance on the war in Iraq, particularly his opposition to the surge of troops instituted over the past year. The presumptive Republican nominee addressed the topic again in a radio address yesterday.

“Even in retrospect, he would choose the path of retreat and failure for America over the path of success and victory,” said McCain. “That's not exactly my idea of the judgment we seek in a commander-in-chief.”

Reed and Hagel also addressed a new ad from the McCain campaign. The ad’s script says that Obama “made time to go to the gym, but cancelled a visit with wounded troops.” It continues, “Seems the Pentagon wouldn't allow him to bring cameras.” Both Hagel and Reed said the ad is inappropriate.

“It is factually distorted, and it is I hope not a sign of things to come, because there are two many important problems to engage at this point in baseless insinuations about patriotism and about American men and women in uniform,” said Reed.

Hagel, a Republican, has not endorsed either candidate, and he said Americans are fortunate to have a choice between McCain and Obama.

“These are both smart men, they're capable men, they're decent men, and they love their country,” he said.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (303 Responses)
  1. Rodmyr

    It seems like quite a few of republicans are behind Barack Obama. Are there any democrats behind Mr. McCain? I believe as we get closer to the general election alot of republicans will come out and endorse Barack Obama. Both democrats and republican see the leadership ability within Barack Obama. As shown in the past his batting average is very high based on the jubgements he's made in the past. No more Mcbush! I believe McCain will be worse then bush and have the United States standings in the world at an all time low.

    July 27, 2008 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  2. joe

    Senator Obama has the enate ability to make right decisions and to recognize the need to make right judgement calls. Senator Obama has developed great powers of intuition because of his humble beginnings, his commmunity work and his good work in congress. He has hand on experience that has come from the school of hard-knocks. Senator Obama is not a failure and he would never let America be one.

    July 27, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  3. Belle

    I will follow Hagel's lead...and not endorse either candidate!

    Green Party for rebellious folks, and Clinton supporters!

    July 27, 2008 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  4. TheTruthHurts

    Retreat and Failure vs. Victory and Success? What idiot still believes in a world that clear cut.

    McCain still hasn't defined victory and if and when he does, it won't be a military victory. War is a final option of politics. It is applicable when we are trying to destroy a WMD program. That hasn't been the mission for FIVE YEARS.

    Although war can lead to political stability, it is not necessary and can be counterproductive.

    Frankly, the position of Obama and McCain is essentially the same as to the goals in Iraq, it's the strategy of how to get there they disagree on. Only history will tell who's right. History has already told you who was right about initiating the war in the first place.

    July 27, 2008 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  5. bob

    McSame and his supporters are always crying about how little experience Obama has but they do not elaborate on what kind of experience. If we are talking about experience dealing with people, then he is not lacking. If we are talking strictly about presidential experience, then none of the candidates can boast. W. Bush had no presidential experience and still has none. Hilliary has none she would have to rely on Bill's. McCain's only experience is from a prisoner of war perspective which does not qualify you to be commander in chief. They need to find another word on Obama. Carter was a farmer, Reagan was an actor for cryin out load. Chaney had experience misused it. We need some one who is intelligent with common sense. Obama 08'

    July 27, 2008 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  6. Denise

    Shouldn't we change the rule that you must be 35 years of age to be the President? My three-year-old exercised excellent judgment when he decided to use the potty this morning. Clearly he has demonstrated that he is qualified to hold the highest office in the land. Why should his lack of experience hold him back?

    July 27, 2008 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  7. Clint, WA

    No, it isn't!

    July 27, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  8. Peter

    No duh

    July 27, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  9. Venus

    Thank you both!

    Thanks for traveling with Obama and telling us how the dynamics played for Obama!

    Go Bam!

    Ha,ha,ha,ha....... McSame! You looked like a mad-man while Obama looked very well like the C-I-C!

    July 27, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  10. Andi, NY

    It's all Obama, all the time. The Messiah rolls on and CNN and MSNBC prostrate themselves at his feet. You are both pathetic.

    July 27, 2008 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  11. Susan

    With the Exception of McCain, who is bought and paid for!

    July 27, 2008 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  12. Steven

    UPDATE: Rhode Island Democrat Sen. Jack Reed responds to

    McCain's ad:
    I was with Senator Obama last week as we met privately with troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Senator Obama listened to their concerns and expressed his gratitude for their service without press or fanfare. He cares for our troops deeply and has worked hard to give them not only the resources they need, but also honor their service with a clearly defined mission and by providing them with the support they have earned when they come home. And just as Senator McCain's support of President Bush's veto of funding for our troops doesn't mean he does not support them, neither does Senator Obama's insistence that we not give George Bush a blank check.

    July 27, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  13. Steven

    UPDATE: Rhode Island Democrat Sen. Jack Reed responds to McCain's ad:
    I was with Senator Obama last week as we met privately with troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Senator Obama listened to their concerns and expressed his gratitude for their service without press or fanfare. He cares for our troops deeply and has worked hard to give them not only the resources they need, but also honor their service with a clearly defined mission and by providing them with the support they have earned when they come home. And just as Senator McCain's support of President Bush's veto of funding for our troops doesn't mean he does not support them, neither does Senator Obama's insistence that we not give George Bush a blank check.

    July 27, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  14. Reality

    McCain is a GRUMPY OLD MAN

    July 27, 2008 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  15. edward sevume sweden

    McCain has all along promised a decent campaign and not resorting to the old politics of smearing your opponent, telling untrue things about your opponent in order to saw the seeds of doubt among the audience.
    The current statements about Obamas trip abroad forthcoming from Mr McCain convey a diversion from his own promise and shows that the gentleman we know here in Europe for his openness and fairness is showing signs of desperation, resorting to extreme wording regading his experience viza avis Obamas on issues partaining to Irak, the Middleeast, Afghanistan and Europe at large.
    Mr McCain is repeating his contentions on Obama not being serious about matters concerning security especially in Irak. The tactic seems to be, repeat that Obama is naive, is reckless, lacks experience and would put americans´ life at risk. Do this time and again in order to plant fear so deep sitted in the hearts of the good american people.

    When I listen to what Obama says about security, I think that he is in tune with the world of today where buiding alliacies is an important ingredience when fighting the ills that face us all including that cancerous terrorism.
    I admire both these two gentlemen when they are at their best explaining issues plainly with confidence and fairness. What puts me off, and it might even do for the many people watching, waiting to see which road America chooses next turn when it elects a president, is the dirt that an opponent is prepared to throw at the other even when it is unworthy of the cultured way we should do things in the west!

    I only hope that both candidates retain high grounds on morals when propagating the issues. This is where Mr McCain comes in because he promised to diverge from the kind of campaigning that destroyed his chances of winning the nomination last time around when he campaigned against a well too known gentleman.

    July 27, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  16. Zemateus

    I was just wondering if the USA or the next USA president will actually
    do something about Angola and the Angola president that has been in powewr longer then Robert Mugabe, we the Angolans leaving outside of Angola think that Eduardo Dos Santos has paid the USA and EEC with oil so he can keep on power even get enough time to make is own son the next Angola president this guy has killed millioes of Angolans and sold or privatised most of Angola oil companies, why aren't the so call West talk about him its no fair I just hope Barack bama starts to get this corrupted and dictators out of Africa... We know that Angola is not free and there is non Freedom of speech, why is CNN not telling us the people the real lobbis and Washigton M'shame that lead and deal with Africans dictators that are in power by foprce and comunist power... pleaseee help Angola we need freedom ASAP

    July 27, 2008 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  17. Ronald Roy

    In that been said by the two senators senator reed and senator Hangel I believe the Americans peoples are fortunate to Have Obama as they public servant to represent them in this desperate world who are ungry and wants to be love again.God Bless America .

    July 27, 2008 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  18. Martha Hussein Baker for Barack

    We may have two choices but the only sensible and sane choice is the man who just made America look good again on the world stage.

    Berlin got "Barack-ed" and they loved it! We as a nation have a reason to be proud again.

    OBAMA '08

    YES WE CAN!

    July 27, 2008 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  19. Walt

    Hmmm...sounds to me that Senator Hagel would be endorsing Senator Obama for President were he not more loyal to his party and of better character than the likes of Joe Lieberman was to his. Having just finished the trip with Obama, Senator Hagel came as close as he possibly could to an endorsement when he said, "“But what matters more in my opinion is character and judgment. And judgment meaning who is it that you bring around, who is it that you listen to?"

    I am glad that Senator Hagel also had the decency and honesty to refute the inappropriate and vile accusations of McBush that Obama didn't have time for wounded troops. The Republicans might have done a lot better nominating someone with character like Hagel than the opportunist and Bush clone McCain.

    July 27, 2008 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  20. Straight Talk for America

    JUGEMENT NOT TO ENTER THE WAR IN THE FIRST PLACE WAS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE ILLUSION OF THE SUCCESS OF THE SURGE BY JOHN MCCAIN AND MURDOCH REPUBLICANS MEDIA MACHINE (FOX, WALLST JOURNAL AND WASHINGTON POST).

    July 27, 2008 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  21. Rick K

    Thank you senators Hagel and Reed. In "The Audacity Of Hope," Obama spends a fair bit of time recalling and analyzing the situations and methods of past collaborations between republicans and democrats.

    I get the feeling that Senator McCain is kind of caught between his instincts and those of the baser parts of his party, and I hope there is a way to bring the whole process out of the gutter.

    America needs this to happen, or it needs for voters to send a message that this isn't the way to win a campaign in America any more.

    July 27, 2008 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  22. Kathy

    I agree because didn't Bush have "experience"?

    Look what he has done to our country

    High gas prices
    Home foreclosures
    Job losses
    Preemptive War in Iraq (Big Mistake)
    Failures of Hurricane Katrina
    Ignored the real war in Afghanistan
    Secret prisons allowing torture
    Energy crisis
    No concern for the environment
    Trade deficit
    Failure to catch osama bin laden

    I'm sure there is more, but we need judgment and a president who will be concerned about the average person rather than their rich friends.

    July 27, 2008 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    The McCain camp sounds desperate. Is all they know is to say negative things, throw mud, and speak half (or no) truths. I live in a strong Republican county in S. AL, but I fast lose respect for any politician who seeks to tear down the other. Tell me the positive programs you are promoting.

    July 27, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  24. KE

    “Each candidate has strengths and weaknesses, and experience does matter,” Hagel said. “But what matters more in my opinion is character and judgment. And judgment meaning who is it that you bring around, who is it that you listen to? Can you make the right decisions for the right reasons on behalf of your country and the world?”

    ?????????

    July 27, 2008 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  25. Steve

    McCain's distorted and petty propaganda smear campaign reflects poorly on him and is indicative of a general contempt for the intelligence of the American people. But the truly scare thing is that some Americans are falling for it. I am sad that some Americans are so easily manipulated.

    July 27, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
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