May 21st, 2008
10:30 AM ET
12 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, 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. Kevin Leo (Jonesboro, GA)

    Way to go Chuck!

    May 21, 2008 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  2. Independent for Obama

    Hagel maneuvering for the VP slot? (For Obama, not McCain...).

    May 21, 2008 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  3. Generation X

    Republicans have some major issues this fall..Obama will be the next President.

    May 21, 2008 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  4. Brian

    What do McCain, Bush and Osama Bin Laden have in common?

    They wont talk to their enemies

    May 21, 2008 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  5. Florida democrat

    a potential VP for Obama????

    May 21, 2008 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  6. McCain: Solutions Obama: only slogans

    From McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds:

    “This election is fundamentally about who Americans can trust to secure peace and prosperity for the next generation of Americans. Without a doubt, Barack Obama is a talented political orator, but his naive plans for unconditional summits with rogue leaders and support for big tax hikes on hardworking families expose his bad judgment that Americans can ill-afford in our next president. Rather than offer solutions and leadership, Senator Obama again tonight launched the tired old political attacks of a typical politician, not the ‘new politics’ he’s promised. America needs a commander in chief who is ready from day one. John McCain has the experience, character and courage to move America foward with strength, optimism and resolve.” –McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds

    May 21, 2008 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  7. knows better

    I admire you, Senator Hagel, but butt out. None of your business what my main man McCain says.

    May 21, 2008 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  8. alex richards

    Hagel, boo hoo, waaahaaa, he is such a crybaby. We all know he is not a Republican. He is just mad he is not relvant anymore. Hey, Democrats, lets make a trade straight up, we will give you Hagel for Lieberman. I say they are in the same boat. They got screwed by their party and so they lash out at their own. I dont understand people like this. Why dont you just trade parties. All Republicans know Hagel is not what they stand for.

    May 21, 2008 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  9. KC Atlanta

    What else do we need to know about mccain that raises concerns just like his old friends implies.

    May 21, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  10. Tex

    Senator Hagel, the problems that McBush is having is due to his age, health and senility. However, thanks for speaking up and speaking the truth.

    May 21, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  11. No Way

    The soon to be running mate of Obama!

    May 21, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  12. Brian from Fort Mill, S.C.

    Why is Hagel attacking one of his own? Is he looking for Obama's VP spot?

    Things that make you go "Hmmmmm...." 🙂

    May 21, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  13. southerner

    What a tool Hagel is.

    Hagel, just shut up and retire.

    May 21, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  14. Jack

    I think Hagel is looking for a high position in an Obama cabinet.... politicians are so predictable

    May 21, 2008 10:03 am at 10:03 am |
  15. Roofin Reality, Houston, Tx.

    Well, it's nice to see someone from the Rep side state the obvious. We can't keep "requiring" all sorts of conditions before we'll pick up the phone. Better yet, like the mafia, which may be where Obama takes this position from, they come see you if they have a problem and talk about how to get it resolved. Then, there could be no misunderstanding if we "handle our business." Capiche?

    May 21, 2008 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  16. Milo

    I think our good friend Sen. Hagel sees it too – the Bushification of John McCain. McCain's spent the last 6 months abandoning whatever centrist views he once had to try and woo over the neo-cons. It's certianly not doing him any favours, and they'll stab him in the back the first chance they get.

    May 21, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  17. Herman in LA

    Thank you Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel for being honest and keeping with the straight talk that is need right now. Our country is in bad shape and the American people need to be told the truth and not be told PR and spin just to win the White House and I hope that Barack picks you for his running mate.

    Obama & Hagel 08!!!

    May 21, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  18. Republican for obama


    May 21, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  19. Zina

    I'm glad that someone is finally calling McCain out on this. It is ridiculous that they are trying to insinuate that Sen. Obama is trying to harm this country in some way. Why can't McCain and Clinton give Obama the same respect he gives them? We ALL love this country!

    May 21, 2008 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  20. Ovitshio Branco from New Mexico

    Chuck Hagel for V.P. for the democratic Party

    May 21, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  21. TJ

    I see someone is campaigning for Obama VP

    May 21, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  22. Darryl

    Sen. Chuck Hagel,

    He is totally correct and America needs a unified government. We need a government that about keeping all america safe and secure.

    We need jobs to come back and help those areas that have lost jobs and help right a way.........

    Thank You Sen. Chuck Hagel....

    God Bless America

    May 21, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  23. @americans

    a REPUBLICAN that got some sense!

    May 21, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  24. oil ruleS

    Well this article said absolutelty NOTHING. Early attempts to begin to sway voters by the liberal media.

    May 21, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  25. Carl Abernathy

    Sen Hagel, Please enumerate the "things" Sen McCain is saying you don't agree with.

    What's happened to you anyway? Are you running for Democrat VP?

    May 21, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19