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. EBB, Louisiana

    Oh and to "GOP RULES"..get a grip and get a life. We are all being taken down by the corruption of our elected officials. How can you deny that? To resort to name calling and low blows is just childish and reveals who you really are a s a person. Good for you! Folks such as yourself who chose to foolishly spout off at the mouth just because someone believes differently than you out of nothing more than FEAR. You are a great example of the rampid ignorance our country harbors....and I feel sorry for you.


    May 21, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |

    Since when is anything the Huffington post says is even remotely worth mentioning?

    May 21, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  3. Smart

    I totally agree with Sen. Hagel. American public is tired of the same old politics MaC Bush is still playing. The truth is always bitter but it is constant. The arrogant policy of the present administration in Washington has not produce any positive result. Iran today is more powerful than ever before Bush embarked on this useless war in Iraq and for somebody like Obama to offer an alternative to the obvious failure of Bush foreign policy and for MaCain to be calling Obama names is tantamount to lack of good judgment on the part of MaCain which is exactly Obama's position

    May 21, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  4. Richard, St. Paul, MN

    I don't mind Republicans saying outlandish things, because after eight years of Bush spouting myriad Rove-isms, I just don't believe a word they say. Zero credibility. Nil. Nada. Zilch.

    May 21, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  5. asori

    senator hagel is one the most honest and brave republican around and the best candidate for obama vp.
    bring the country together,

    May 21, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  6. Fiyah_Startah

    Obama/Hagel '08

    May 21, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  7. john

    How come McCain another dummy is put forward by the Republicans for President, is he the best they can do good grief .

    Obama will beat him hands down

    May 21, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  8. Honest man for Obama

    Thank you Hagel, you know what is like out there and in your eyes we the ordinary people see the true colour of our senators .

    Maccain is a disgrace to himself, judging from how he is conducting his general election compaign. All the stuff he beleive then that needed to be done to improve America image abroad then now he is against them.
    Shame to see a old man behaving like a little kids. Maccain if you can't stand to your own words or can't say one thing and believe in it, how can the american people trust you?

    You favour negotiating with Hamas group back in 2002, you believed America should ease the sanction on Cuba, then now you wants Cuba to be cut off the table until the released all poloitical prisonal and leave power before you deal with Cuba.

    If they do all that, what will you negotiate for senator Maccain?

    I believe negotiation is give and take in all fair ways between two parties. If they do all the good work how will you take credit for peace if you didn't initiate peace.

    Peace need peace to get peace.

    May 21, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  9. Walter, Long Beach

    Amazing how honest some Republicans can get when they aren't running for anything.

    May 21, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  10. Darth Vadik, CA







    May 21, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  11. Mimi De La Cruz for OBAMA






    May 21, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  12. Jeff


    I thought you libs/dems were convinced that Iran is NOT a threat. So why would McCain need to do anything about them if they are harmless? Make up your mind.

    May 21, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  13. Tommy

    Hey all you republican's posting hatred on this and other story's about Domocrat's: Who is the best campaign manager the Democrat's have during this election? One name! GEORGE W. BUSH!

    May 21, 2008 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  14. prometheus

    Americans... they are a stiff-necked people. And the proof of this is in the things they think, say, and do. And then they wonder why their leaders think, say, and do so many unenlightened things.

    Stiff-necked people doing stiff-necked things. What's the surprise in all of this? Forgive them, for they know not what they do.

    May 21, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  15. fred

    Hagel couldn't help Obama!! Nebraska...LOL

    Obama will NEVER make it to the White House!!


    May 21, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  16. Willy

    Even if McCain burps in public you can count on CNN making hay out of it and then finding someone upset over it. Meanwhile Obama keeps getting a free ride by CNN and the ever-loving media well after all Obama is directing the media on what they can talk about of him and Ms. Obama

    May 21, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  17. shawn

    Anyone alleging that Chuck Hagel is only doing this to be Obama's VP, read about his political record and you'll see that he has ALWAYS been moderate, sensible, and steadfast (non flip flop).

    READ, people!

    Sebelius for VP.
    Hagel for Secretary of Defense.

    May 21, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  18. JB - NYC

    Look at ME Look At ME!!!!

    May 21, 2008 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  19. Chuck Newman

    I formerly had great respect for McCain when his military experience became known. He is now a poster boy for what happens to people who go into politics. I am no longer even fainly interested in the American political system.

    May 21, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  20. Thinking American

    What a refreshing bit of honesty. The American people will have as intelligent a conversation as the campaigners will start. If you start with a preconceived notion of the lowest common denominator in mind, you will be doing the country a disservice. We are, as individuals, smarter and mare capable and able to use thoughts instead of gut reactions to make up our minds on these world altering issues.

    Thank you again, Mr Hagel.

    May 21, 2008 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  21. John Denning

    Obama reaching out to our enemies ,
    OUR historey tells us that talking to our enemies is a good Idea ,
    Example Cuba , Castro first came to us before he went to Russia ,
    when he became Cuba,s leader . Our president then IKE would not see Castro , IKE snubbed his nose at the little 3rd world leader .
    Castro then went to Russia , they welcomed him with open arms , Russia then had a base in Cuba which a few years later put every American in Danger OF A Nuc, War. Which Kenndey had to deal with
    Cuban Missle crissis , And we have had a problem with Cuba every since , All of this was caused by a ignorant president whom would not talk to a small country Dictator.
    Obama did not say he would agree with our enemies , but that he would talk with them and find out was on thier minds .
    Is it not better to know what your enemy is thinking ? than to ignor him? That mess of not talking to our enemies is what has us in this mess right now . Just think of what we would have saved if we had given Castrio a little aid instead of IKE ignoreing him Just like George Bush is doing right now .
    This is the reason i am voteing for Obama

    Thank you

    May 21, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  22. Obama/Kennedy

    The old man does not have anything to bring to the American People he is a third term Tush I mean Bush. All he has to play with is like the rest of the republicans to twist things and decive those with weak mind and get elected, but that theory of Karl Rove tactic is old it is not going to work in 2008. Democrats are going to lead the United States and the World for the coming 100 years.

    May 21, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  23. TC in Ohio

    Way to tell it like it is Chuck! A man with courage to speak the truth! Bless your heart! Obama '08!

    May 21, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  24. Billy Gibbons in Houston

    "Hagel..has become an outspoken critic of the War in Iraq open to the possibility of endorsing Obama's candidacy"

    How can ANYONE concerned with foreign policy endorse Obama's lack of plans? All I hear from Obama is that he intends to sit down and let people marvel at his intelligence and then they will do the right thing. HELLO? That's a Jimmy Carter approach.

    Who are these lying RINO's that support the Democrat efforts? What a jerk.

    May 21, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  25. Jaison Biagini

    look, the iraq war was not just a mistake it went against everything the USA used to stand for. like their form of government or not, iraq was a sovereign nation, they weren't invading another, the weren't developing nuclear weapons. this was the bush administration saying our way is the only way. our 200 year old country is better than you way of governing. we must force countries to adopt our way. it's gone really great so far in the mid-east. afghanistan is more corrupt than ever, we forced syria into elections and the went from bad to worse, now hamas is the legitimate government in syria. iraq has a government that when elections come up, sides try to kill the other to gain seats of power. we have elevated irn as the power in the middle-east. they used to be afraid of saddam.

    hagel is firmly against the war now, he also thinks negotiating is the right the to do. so or course he'd be upset when mccain sys the things he said.

    we should negotiate with cuba. raoul castro has already loosened things up there, maybe we can get even more out of him. maybe he'll give his people even more. why would cubans in florida be mad if more good things happen in the country were many of their family members still live?

    May 21, 2008 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
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