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. Targar

    Welcome back senator Obama, job well done. You made people all over the world to know there's still a United States of America.

    July 27, 2008 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  2. Olivia

    SPIN......SPIN.......SPIN.

    July 27, 2008 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  3. Kay

    Obama had the right judgement to avoid the Iraq war. Mccain's poor judgement got us into the Iraq war. Mccain's answer to the Iran problem is bomb, bomb, bomb--another war. Does'nt anybody find that scary???

    July 27, 2008 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  4. Marvin

    Obama/Hagel '08!!!!!

    July 27, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  5. Jerry

    I've seen that McCain ad..the one in which he puts country first, unfortunately, in that same ad, he puts truth and honesty, a distant second. Shame on you John McCain

    July 27, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  6. pam Eugene OR

    Other than surge and lies McCain has nothing to say. He is a tired old man screeching at the clouds.
    Obama 08

    July 27, 2008 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  7. Mike

    I am amazed and disappointed by Senator McCain's comments and ad about Senator Obama's decision not to visit the military hospital. I just hope the news media realizes what appears like desperate attacks. Honestly, just because Pentagon did not "explicitly" tell Obama that he could not visit the hospital does not mean that Pentagon's message did not suggest or imply that it may not be a good idea to visit. I, therefore, respect the Senator's decision to err on the side of caution and not appear politicizing the trip.

    I very much respect Senator Reed, who, although Republican and could have easily sided with Senator McCain, stood on principle and rejected the "inappropriate" comments and ad.

    I would like to see the media not obssessed with comments (from both camps) that do not add materially to the serious problems facing this nation. So far, the media seems eager not only to broadcast, but also to keep on repeating negative comments that have nothing to do about truth, integrity, and positively advancing the country's wellbeing.

    Mike, NJ.

    July 27, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  8. Obamacan

    Obama's judgement is a winner. Now McCain and Bush are interested in a timetable for Iraq withdrwal. His judgement against the Iraq war and now his decisions on Afghanistan. He is qualified to be the next commander in chief. OBAMACAN' 08

    July 27, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  9. sharon thomason

    DEAR SIR,

    I DISAGREE WITH MR. HAGEL. EXPERIENCE IS MUCH MORE IMPORTANT THAN JUDGMENT. JOHN MCCAIN HAS BEEN IN A WAR BEFORE AND HE KNOWS HOW IT IS AND HE HAS THE KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERIENCE.

    July 27, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  10. Connie

    I watched this program this morning and seen the respect these men showed for Senator Obama. I started weeping to think that this country can not get beyond the fact that this young man is black.He has shown from the beginning of his campaign that he is the most competent person to become president with the overwhelming job ahead. I have many friends that have said ,well I like him , but he is black. Old white women for Obama.
    Connie from Indiana

    July 27, 2008 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  11. jas

    Sick of you criticising Obama all the time.

    July 27, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  12. Skyview

    McCain is indeed more experienced than is Obama. But that experience is what has caused and is at the base of all the problems we are having in this country today....Old School has proven to be the wrong approach to today's global economy and national security problems.....A Masters Degree obtained in 1930 is not the same as a Masters Degree today, most people would think.....McCain's experience leads him to judgments applicable to yesterday's world, while what we need is judgements for today's issues; Obama has judgement applicable to today..... McCain's position was obtained not because of merit or qualification, but rather because of money and family.....He felt entilted to it and it was given to him for that reason.....In a global situation positions must be earned based on one's knowledge, ability, intellect, cooperation, and effort....Obama is working to earn the presidency, while McCain is striving to receive it as a gift.

    July 27, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  13. Justin in CA

    Hagel is right on the money. McCain wants to point out that he supported the surge so he should be president. By that logic you can say Obama should be president because he said we shouldn't even go into Iraq. What comes first, the chicken or the egg

    July 27, 2008 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  14. Linda

    CNN: Please ask John McCain to define victory! Why are you allowing him to accuse Barack Obama of concession, surrender and defeat when Obama is advocating leaving a sovereign government of Iraqi people in charge of Iraq? What conditions does McCain expect to leave on the ground before he is willing to declare victory and leave Iraq?

    McCain and the Republicans are using rhetoric and sound bites to cloud Obama's message and you are letting them get away with it.

    Senator McCain: please describe your envisioned 'victory' in Iraq. Do you expect Iraq to look like New York, California or Des Moines? To have an uncontested democracy, no terrorist activity and a chicken in every pot? If so, Barack Obama is not the naive candidate in this election.

    July 27, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    Sen Obama as proven his good judgement. If we had followed his judgement we would not be at war today. We would be concentrating our fighting of the enemy that attacked us in Afghanistan.

    McCain cannot not make a comment or give an interview without bashing Obama. While Obama is telling us what he plans to do McCain is continuing with smear politics.

    No way can McCain ever draw the thousands and thousands of supporters OBAMA

    July 27, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  16. Chuck

    Judgement is usually based on ....

    "EXPERIENCE!"

    PUMA

    July 27, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  17. Hal

    We went into Iraq to rid the region or nuclear weapons. To said that we would lose a (war, invasion, conflick, or whatever McCain want to call it) if we sent our young men and women home is crazy. What we realy went over there to accomplish was to KILL Shadam. Now that said and done lets get our *&%# HOME. Good LUCK Obama.

    PS.. The older generation of whites that are not voting for Obama need to stop looking at the color of ones skin and do the right thing for this country that they say the LOVE so much.

    July 27, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  18. Pat

    If Senator McCain's military experience is seen as a credential of what is needed to be President, I'll take Obama for two terms !

    I agree with Hagel, character and judgement are moe crucial to the Presidency than military experience and/or in McCain's case no experience. McCain's only experience is what he learned from being on the sidelines with George Bush. In my opinion that is as far from experience as one can get! The only thing one could learn from George Bush is how to initiate the greatest world disaster in the history books of America with zero solutions on how to reverse it.

    July 27, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  19. Aimal

    I am proud to call these two sentors American Heros. Thank you Sen. Hegal and Sen. Reed.
    You make us all proud

    July 27, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    McShame is jealous.

    Sen Obama as proven his good judgment. If we had followed his judgment we would not be at war in Iraq today. We would be concentrating our efforts on the real enemy that attacked us in Afghanistan.

    McCain cannot not make a comment or give an interview without bashing Obama. I am so tired of his whining about the media. While Obama is telling us what he plans to do McShame is continuing with smear politics. Why cant he just say what HE's going to do.

    No way can McCain ever draw the thousands and thousands of supporters OBAMA does here and abroad. What does that tell you? Forget the polls. There is no way Obama cant win the presidency.

    July 27, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  21. Tojoi

    McShame is jealous.

    Sen Obama as proven his good judgment. If we had followed his judgment we would not be at war in Iraq today. We would be concentrating our efforts on the real enemy that attacked us in Afghanistan.

    McCain cannot not make a comment or give an interview without bashing Obama. I am so tired of his whining about the media. While Obama is telling us what he plans to do McShame is continuing with smear politics. Why cant he just say what HE's going to do.

    No way can McCain ever draw the thousands and thousands of supporters OBAMA does here and abroad. What does that tell you? Forget the polls. There is no way Obama cant win the presidency.

    July 27, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  22. haas

    What can McCain say about the economy? He wants to make the Election be about the war but he's weak on every other issue...and quite frankly he's not even that strong on the war issue either. I can't wait till the debates start and Obama takes McCain to the mat!

    July 27, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  23. ex republican

    john "oil spill" mcCANE's judgement to visit an oil rig during an OIL SPILL should be mentioned over and over and over again!!!

    July 27, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  24. 2Nurselady

    Judgment AND Experience is even better. That is what Hillary Clinton possesses.

    Regardless, though, Barack Obama's judgment is sorely lacking. He's a mess – very scattered – novice. He cannot even come close to Hillary Clinton with regard to what she is able to offer for us.

    I hope the delegates decide to change their votes in favor of Hillary Clinton on the Convention floor. ALL DELEGATES AND SUPERDELEGATES CAN STILL CHANGE THEIR VOTES, even on the day of the Convention on the Convention floor.

    I hope they do.

    July 27, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  25. Old white woman for Obama

    Please McCain, tell us your definition of victory and success.

    July 27, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
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