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. Sarah

    I like this man honesty...
    Also, apart from any political gains, I strongly believe we should talk to our enemies and try to reach some understanding before we give up on them or bomb...bomb...bomb
    That is just a simple common sense

    May 21, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  2. Farren Ballanst

    Obama/Hagel '08

    May 21, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  3. Sam Padayachee

    The Democrats keeps saying that a vote for McCain is vote for a third term for George Bush......"more of the same". I don't think so. I think that with McCain being a military man and not someone that is clued up on local affairs (like the economy), he may turn out to be worse for the United Sataes than people believed the President Bush was.

    May 21, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  4. wwf

    How many of you blasted McCain when he went against Bush a few years ago? Not too many I bet. I guess it boils down to who is saying what against who. Typical. I might be an independent, but I can promise you that I would never join the Republican Party in a million years. I do vote for Republicans from time to time in different elections, but that is where I draw the line. I have always understood why some animals eat their young. Some of the comments on here back it up.

    May 21, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  5. Brett, Salt Lake City

    Shut up, stay out of the presidential candidates business. McCain's views are his own, not yours.

    May 21, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  6. Paul

    Obama/Hagel '08!

    May 21, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  7. Sara

    Hagel is just another "rat" trying to get on board the Titanic..Obama can't even beat Hillary, much less Mccain.

    May 21, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |


    May 21, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  9. Michelle in Philly

    OMG, I'd like someone to make a list of all the things you can not ask Obama about. This is getting ridiculous

    May 21, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  10. Linned

    One of your own speaking out when they know what you are saying is wrong is a good thing. The Republicans plan to use scare tactics won't work if someone if their own party speaks out.

    May 21, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  11. Matt Callaway in Omaha, NE

    I wish he was running for re-election, but a lot of people here make up Bush's 28% and are pissed that he hasn't towed the line.

    May 21, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  12. DAVE

    THE republicans have screwed our wonderful country into the ground. How can anyone think "GOOD" comes from war? I'm sure the havent seen little dead babies that our US tax dollar have created. Thank GD someone is showing McCain up for what he is. AND yes, He needs a brain scan! NOW!!

    May 21, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  13. Jack Jodell, Minneapolis, MN

    Men like Hagel transcend party and ideology with their superb common sense, clear vision, and devotion to truth. This man is a credit to our country and will be sorely missed in the Senate. All Republicans would do well to heed his advice and follow his example! OBAMA/HAGEL '08 AND '12!

    May 21, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |

    I agree 100% with Mollygonz- Bush 2004 scare tactics ain't gonna work this time round.

    May 21, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  15. Brian from Fort Mill, S.C.

    The only way the Republicans can win this fall (White House or Congress) is to run away from Bush.

    This goes for McCain, too!

    May 21, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  16. Justme WV

    I have to disagree with Sen Hagel....McCain DOES NOT know better.

    May 21, 2008 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  17. Glen, RSA

    The Huffingtonpost now there's a reliable, unbiased waste of electronic energy. They should closed down for the sake of global warming.

    May 21, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  18. Nicole in NE

    Chuck Hagel is an awesome man and so many of us in Nebraska have great respect for him. He is a leader and will stand up for his own beliefs, which so important in politics. You can't just "go with the flow" if that's what the majority of your party believes if it is against your conscience.

    The problem with John McCain is he lost this ability a long time ago to stay in line with conservatives.

    May 21, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  19. Steve

    I get so mad when I heard people label anyone that wants out of the war in Iraq Liberals or sissies. No wonder the educated people are voting for Obama. As we sink our billions of dollars into Iraq, the entire mideast is laughing as they slowly kill America financially. Hasn't history taught us anything? We just keep making that same mistakes over and over.

    May 21, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  20. Heather NC

    Has the world gone mad? Next Cheney will be coming out of the Obama closet and roll over in front of the press. McCain has not said anything out of line regarding Obama and foreign policy. It's an election for goodness sakes. If Obama were in McCain's shoes, he'd attack McCain on inexperience as well. What is the big deal? Since when is this supposed to be a tea party discussion? I'm tired of hearing every big-headed politician's opinons and criticisms from both sides. They are always in regard to...nothing.

    May 21, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  21. tapera

    Thank God!!
    Politics is changing now. People are learning to use common sense now

    May 21, 2008 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  22. dtaylor

    To Straight Talk:

    Unfortunately your talk is quite crooked. First Obama has not dissed Hilary. Secondy, exactly what is Obama whinning about?? He didn't write this article or comment on it...and if you want to hear whinning you have to look no further than your gir Hiliary...and truth be told, she scores as badly with some Democrats as you claim Obama does...last I checked, more Democrats voted for Obama vs. Clinton.

    But here's the difference, more Obama supporters are truly concerned about the country and its directions which is why we would hold our nose and vote for Clinton if she was the nominee...not because we like her but we know policy wise she and Obama are pretty much in line...vs. a higher percentage of Clinton supporters that would be so spiteful their candidate loss, they'd rather endure 4 more years of a things as they are in this country rather than vote for the person that beat their candidate...

    May 21, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  23. Bob Indianapolis, IN

    Grandpa McBush is a chump! Even James Baker said that a real president not only has to talk to friend but to enemies as well. It's a little something called diplomacy that we we haven't seen in eight years of the fake Connecticut cowboy!

    May 21, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  24. Bud

    Like I have been saying for the past 5 monthes. Hagel would be a great VP for Obama.

    May 21, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  25. Suraj

    Just read the comments here and you will see all the rep.

    May 21, 2008 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
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