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. Kate

    Go Obama! I have been a Hillary supporter since day one but I will support the nominee, Democrats will win in November.

    McCain is a hypocrite, he does not live what he preaches.

    May 21, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  2. ktlin

    This makes 2 today. It is pretty bad when your supporters are really supporting BHO. And has anyone noticed McCains speaking manner – sing song and boring! That won't go too far against Barack. All of McCains supporters will tune out or go to sleep. I try to listen but get annoyed shortly because of his sing song cadence. And his delivery is lacking.

    May 21, 2008 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  3. LUCAS

    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 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  4. Joe Regis

    It is rather interesting, one would have thought
    with old age come wisdom. Think again.

    America will not be fooled this year.

    May 21, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  5. hillary hater

    We need people like you to change the mindset of this country

    May 21, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  6. Elly

    I say kudos to this man for taking the high road on his personal
    convictions in stating his concerns
    the congress and senate are there to serve the American people not themselves and their own beliefs
    This Administration has NOT been for the American people
    72% of the population are against the Iraq war
    Very courageous of Senator Hagel to speak his own personal convictions. It speaks volumes about his character!!

    May 21, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  7. R.I.F.

    Kate May 21st, 2008 11:11 am ET

    Do you understand how foreign policy works? You usually have three choices with problem countries:

    1) Ignore them and let the threat increase
    2) Try to talk to countries to work out differences
    3) Go to war.

    80% of this country dissaproves of the war that we are in now and we have lost 4000 troops so why would we start another one without at least trying to use use diplomacy first. You really don't understand how this thing works.

    Also, Kate, bs-ing would be telling people about a gas tax holiday that has been slammed by every economist on the planet. Obama's plans aren't simple, he just doesn't have time to go over every detail in a 10 minute speech. If you had a brain and wasn't so filled with hate you would go to his website and read what his plans aremaybe tune in to one of his town hall meetings that are broadcats usually on this website.

    You would think with all the technology available to us today people would actually use it before they get on these blogs.

    May 21, 2008 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  8. Foreign observer

    Good to know that some Republicans have a better understanding of the Irak war than Bush/McCain. With the current policy the US sooner or later will be forced to fight another war in would be another stupid endeavour.

    May 21, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  9. Buddy

    Any one who would back Obama is anti American.

    May 21, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  10. Lee

    I have said this all along. Barack Obama needs to pick this fine gentleman as his VP.

    May 21, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  11. Really?

    Kate: GET TO WORK!

    May 21, 2008 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  12. David Goldman for OBAMA





    May 21, 2008 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  13. Deb n Texas

    McCain is McSame, and if you Democrats are not please with voting for Obama – vote McCain and whatever you get – YOU DESERVE. This is the same thing I said when YOU(the same people) voted for Bush – what you are getting now – YOU DESERVE. You allowed you ignorance to overwhelmed you. GOOD LUCK IN LIFE!

    May 21, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  14. Axel

    I once held McCain in high regard, that rare Republican that I could actually agree with and respect. His willingness to strike an independent path in the Senate, and take positions he believed in.

    Now he wants to replace all our federal judges with neocons, overturn Roe vs Wade, effectively remove all gun controls, further saddle our children with decades of debt with a nonsensical economic policy which has proven not to work.

    He talks about his care for the environment but has no real initiatives planned to really deal with it. He is losing on the issues that matter to Americans – the economy, protecting civil rights and freedoms (not the orwellian state policies Bush espouses and McCain supports), and following a sane, balanced foreign policy.

    For the first time I can ever recall one President has managed to usher in two recessions while on the job – and McCain specifically states he will continue these economic policies.

    For the first time I can recall we invaded a country without provocation and against the wishes of our allies and the UN, and yet we haven't even apologised to anyone. Indeed, if you listen to the neocon lunacy, we are unpatriotic if we even question why we are still there.

    Fact is, the Brits dealt with terrorism on their shores for decades, without killing hundreds of thousands in the process. And they won. And you know what ? They talked with the IRA. Are they appeasers ?

    And the whole lapel pin BS – how about an armband while you are at it, they were en vogue in Germany in the 30s and 40s too...

    May 21, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  15. Imran, USA

    Re: But once they have the responsibility to govern the country and lead the world

    Chuck Hagel is still living in a fools apradise.

    We don't lead the world any more than China does for example.

    24/7, 365 we all depend on each other.

    America has little to offer in terms of moral and ethical leadership.

    We are a nation of hypocrites.


    May 21, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  16. Travis (in the real world)

    Sing that song again McSame bom bom bomb bomb Iran.

    May 21, 2008 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  17. Joann

    Let's face it, McCain has nothing but foreign policies to run on. He will not deal with any others issues. McCain is the one who does not know what he is talking about and he lies even though there is proof to contradict his lies.
    Now all of a sudden the republicans care about the Cuban people, only because they need their votes in November.
    Well one thing is for sure – Bush is still helping McCain as he speaks about sending cell phones to relatives in Cuba this morning.
    McCain is still Bush's other puppy dog! McCain is not smart enough – he is an idiot boring and to old to be running for office.

    Thank god, some one like Senator Chuck Hagel has the guts to stand up to Bushie's McCain.

    May 21, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  18. Paul

    Not so fast Obama supporters.
    DNC, Superdelegates,
    To whom it may concern:
    This is the land of the free, of those who believe in a better future for each one of our families. We are all part of this great dream. Thus, those voters who went to the polls despite being disenfranchised by a few have the same rights as we do to have their voice heard. America is not about a comittee, but it embraces everyone, and that includes the voters from FLA and Michigan. No one can stop democracy from running its normal course, or can a few silence the voices of millions? you were chosen to serve not to silence our people, we do not live in Cuba and even if we did, it does not allow you to limit peoples' rights.
    Every vote must count, and we are certain that you will make the right desicion, FLA and Michigan are also a part of the Union. Otherwise you are risking the posibility of a Democrat in the White House.
    Thanks for your attention to this request in favor of our people.
    Sincerely yours,

    May 21, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  19. Michele

    Yeah, this is why Israel is "secretly" talking to Syria, Hamas and Hezbollah. The U.S. isn't helping they are trying to sit down with their enemies and figure their crap out, while George Bush begs his frenemies, the Saudis for oil and they laugh in his face!!!

    May 21, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  20. Mike in Scranton, PA

    When is the coddling of bawaaahwaaaahhk going to stop? I've never seen anything like this in my 40+ years of voting. Let's just give him a pacifier and call it a day.

    May 21, 2008 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  21. Lazarito

    McCain is NOT creative at all ,and has no plan either.He is just focused in continuing the same policies of the past against all the problems we have: Iraq War,Cuba,Noth Korea,Iran,economy,american dollar!!No more BUSH.......PLEASE!!!!!!!
    OBAMA-HILLARY 2008!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 21, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  22. Every Wilson

    Republicans are out of touch! Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosvelt met and became allies to defeat Hitler. President Nixon met with Mao Te Sung a ruthless communist Chinese dictator. President Kennedy met with Nikita Kruschev a communist dictator of Russia who threatened our allies and our own country saying he would bury us! What are we afraid of! Do we think fear mongering and bullying diplomacy is the only diplomatic path? Looks like McCain looks like Bush who looks like the republican platform that is out of touch with the political realities of our day.

    May 21, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  23. tidho

    So this is what Hillary would look like if she were a Republican, lol.

    May 21, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  24. Joseph Adewole

    Hagel, l agree with you that John is smarter than what he is saying or what comes out of his mouth. The fact is 'when someone is too old, he begin to behave like a kid, talk like a kid and do everything like a kid; people like that usually loose their sense of belonging and because he was in the force, he will still be thinking that he is still in the force.
    That is why John McCain is not good for America; America needs a younger and intelligent man as 'leader'; that will understand the people's needs.

    May 21, 2008 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  25. Marcus

    Hagel is now officially apart of the new coalition. I once had the upmost respect for John McCain I saw him take the gang of 13 and stop a fillabuster. But he's strayed away from his positions over the last 4-5 years and me thinks he saw the presidency in his sights. Our next President must absolutely talk to and have a better relationship with: Iran, Russia, and Venzeluea. These countries are the reasons that gas has hit $4 a gallon. You see you Repbulicans puppets think that America is still in charge of the world it is not. We live in a changing world, where good relationships trump good militaries......(see China). We don't have to agree with everything these other countries do or say but if we completely abandon these relationships than they'll abandon their exports of oil to the rest of the world causing oil prices to skyrocket. Our economy isn't failing just because of a dummy in office our economy is failing because this dummy likes to think his wooden hands can actually pack a punch.

    May 21, 2008 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
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