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

Hagel criticizes McCain over Iran comments

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. Blaqwolf YO, OH.

    Maybe we should start grilling McCain and ask him why everyone is jumping off of his boat. November is look good for the Dems.

    May 21, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  2. Kate

    Wow! you people have no work to do? It's no wonder the polls all come out like they do. I'd rather be working than bs-ing about Obamination. Which is exactly what I think he is. I don't agree with anything he says, I think his policies are overly simplistic and optimistic. How does he feel about Iranian television brainwashing children to hate the Western world? I have significant problems with his ideas. I want a leader who has a better understanding of how the foreign policy works and understands that there are people in the world who have hated the Western world LONGER than Bush has been in office. But these days, it's just easier to blame the President rather than blame the media, congress, or OURSELVES for what has happened in the world. And that's it. Hindsight is 20/20. I'm done.

    May 21, 2008 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  3. Patriot747

    Way to go Chuck, someone has to tell McCain that it is not as easy as he has had it. All he has had is lobbyists telling him what to do..

    Obama will be the next president.. The question I have for McCain..

    "what if anything are you going to do about Iran"? If it is the same status quo rhetoric.. then we need someone else.. and it is not 4 more years of the same. End of conversation..

    And for those that don't want to deal with Cuba.. (only to appease those Cubans thar are living freely here in the U.S. ) I say.. sorry, but Cuba is not and has never been a threat to the U.S. If we had the guts to do something, we would be helping them more instead of isolating them because of their ruler. If the people in Cuba did not want him there, they would have already done something about it.. Live with it, but don't condemn those that want to help the people that live there.

    MCCain is only another puppet for the lobbyists..!!!

    May 21, 2008 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  4. Suzette

    Typical republicans and conservatives. Attach those that don't agree with your views. If any of you had half a brain, you would understand what the man is actually saying. You cannot, as the potential leader of this nation, speak poorly of other nations, then want to try to go out and negotiate with them in a diplomatic fashion. Ever heard of the term two-faced?? You people are why we're in this mess we're in now. This is not a liberal, conservative, republican or democratic issue – this is a common sense issue. And clearly, you and your candidate have none.

    May 21, 2008 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  5. Seriously

    McCain needs help finding his teeth in the morning, how is he going to lead our country? God bless America and God bless the next president of the United States, President Obama.

    May 21, 2008 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  6. RM

    Chuck is right. We need to talk with our enemies.

    The only think we accomplish by not talking is increasing our fears. When this happens we react based on fear.

    May 21, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  7. Darth Vadik, CA

    You go Chuck,
    we love you
    the one honest Republican.

    May 21, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  8. Joe the Troll

    I'm amazed by all the people who claim that Hagel is betraying his party. Should he never say anything that doesn't come directly from HQ? Do you want Congressmen, or just automatons that spout party dogma and never say what they really think?

    It's especially funny to read that Hagel "doesn't share the values of Republicans." Aren't your values supposed to be fiscal responsibility, small government, less intrusion, and respect for the Constitution? If so, the Republican party lost it's values as a group over 30 years ago. It sounds like what Hagel doesn't have is that Republican propensity, that we've seen so much of lately, to continue doing what has already failed in the hopes that it will suddenly start to succeed. I'd say we can all do without that very nicely, for a few years at least.

    May 21, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  9. Moses

    Hagel is no friend of McCain. McCain is an honorable man that went through the Vietnam war and the shame that war brought. He is determined not to repeat the same mistake twice. Obama is like an unrecorded tape: he is prone to make the same mistakes all over again.

    Look who supports Obama. Dr. Brezinski, the NSA when Iran was surrendered to the Ayatollahs in 1979 to appease the clerics (Carter adminstration). APPEAESMENT IS THE MIDDLE NAME OF THE LEFT. The mistake of 1979 by the Left is now at the door step of the free world. Naive thinking: the terrorist states are not interested in negotiating away their weapons.

    Hagel is Republican by name only. McCain will beat Obama handily in November because Obama makes his policy as he goes along. He is an expert in denouncing his friends and mentor when they don't suit his political ambitions. Hell, he is making a 180 dgree turn on "Negotiating without Pre-Conditions".

    May 21, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  10. l mccall

    I'm old enough to remember when your word meant something-when our country belonged to us and not all of the planet- when people stood by interity, honesty, and not greed.
    Where are we (US) going as a country when you have to pay $50.00 per week for the gas companies to reap unheard of profits, when race is still a factor in everyday life-not to mention where you came from- and all the businesses that we (Americans) have built- have gone overseas to other countries- and its okay to have sex with children.
    I want a planet were people still care about each other, where trees are standing tall and not dictating our weather for lumber, and when you speak, you really mean what you say.l

    May 21, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  11. Unknown comic

    Chuck Hagel...a politician I can respect and trust to act in the best
    interest of the country not his own !!!

    May 21, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  12. That's Reality

    CNN – I'm disappointed that you didn't post my last comment, but not surprised. It's too bad you won't give a voice to those you don't agree with but that's your choice. I'll stop wasting my time reading your "reports" and making comments. You and your bloggers seem to be quite content (and disillusioned) promoting a dangerous policy of appeasement. You really ought to realize that Bush and McCain are not the enemy. If they were we would have been enslaved by radical extremists by now.

    May 21, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  13. Tony - DC


    May 21, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  14. Sara

    Why is cnn the obama network only posting obama's supports?
    Hagel is just another "rat" trying to get on board the Titanic..Obama can't even beat Hillary, much less Mccain.

    May 21, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |

    MCCAIN GET A LIFE RETIRE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 21, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  16. Stephy

    Someboday wants to be VP...?
    As a democrat, I will be fine with it

    May 21, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  17. Dylan

    Good to see a Republican that is able to call a spade and spade...

    and an out-of-touch old man an out-of-touch old man.

    Dems in 08

    May 21, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  18. john williams san diego, ca.

    Chuckie....a great big thank you for finally admitting you were a democrat all along and only ran as a republican to gain office, but your dismal failure as a Senator was not overlooked by anyone.

    May 21, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  19. realistic

    While it's great to see a republican break the mold and step off of the somewhat strictly defined party platform, it is important to realize that the man is still a politician. While he may have started with lofty goals and high ideals, he has now become a self-promoting politician who may see an opportunity through Obama, who will be looking to appeal to the more moderate republicans, those who have become disenchanted with Bush and the war. McCain won't take Hagel, and with Hillary falling off, there's only one other butt for Hagel kiss.

    May 21, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  20. Robert

    About time a Republican can finally stand up and call out the inept Bush/McCain policy of "we'll talk after you've agreeded to our unreasonable demands." Not only is this childish and stupid, it's also cowardly.

    May 21, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  21. Jacklyn, NC

    Hagel is right. We as a civilized nation cannot afford to not negotiate and deal with Iran, Cuba and other countries that have dictatorships and unfavorable view\s of the U.S. I think he (Hagel) would make a good V.P. for Obama to show Americans that we can be united and have different views with our culturally differences.

    May 21, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  22. Ras-putin

    What do you teach your children ? Do you teach them to "refuse" to engage those with whom they have differences ?
    Shame...bad parent !

    May 21, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  23. Frank Ontario

    McCain has now dug his hole as he has pretty much confirmed he stands for all the failed policies of the Republican Bushies to try & keep the base on side. His only chance now is flip flop some more and chalk it up to not being able to remember his former positions. Chuck is right on the mark and pretty much sets up the November election as a barometer for the collective intelligence level of the U.S. electorate. The percentage of people who vote for McCain will be a direct correlation to the percentage of morons within the electorate.

    May 21, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  24. David Goldman for OBAMA





    May 21, 2008 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  25. C A Franklin

    I have been watching and reading the news, it really stress me out to see how unbalance the media is. CNN, CNBC AND FOX NEWS seem to be a strong supporters of John McCain. They haven't done much if any reporting on senator McCain's back ground and family. They didn't waste anytime in reporting on senator Obama's
    background. Did they play the race card?

    The media and the republican spin doctors has really infleunced the voters. This is part of a strategy planned by the republican ran media,split the democratic vote divide the voters well it's working. It look like the media is getting the candidate it wanted, senator Obama.

    If Obama get to be the democratic nominee, I am wondering if the media and the public will play the so call race card. It will be a white candidate running against a black candidate in November. Political history indicates that most voters have voted or will vote along racial and partical lines. How will you vote?

    May 21, 2008 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
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