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. Randy M

    Hey STRAIGHT TALK, name one thing that Hillary has done to be a PROVEN LEADER. Didn't think ya could......

    May 21, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  2. carolflowery

    i dont think he's trying out for the vp of obama
    i think it's the Secretary of the State
    but most Obama supporters seem to think there is only one other
    office of importance, the VP
    crap, vp aint nothing but somebody the Prez sends around the world
    when they cant go, so dont get all excited over any candidates VP
    unless Rev. Wright wasnt kidding when he whispered and jokingly
    said he might be the VP...Yikes

    May 21, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  3. MD

    Thank god for ONE sane Republican.

    You know, I have been a Republican all my life...unitl now. After sitting out the last two elections (yeah, you guessed it: I can't stand Bush), I now feel I have an alternative in Obama.

    McCain is getting some really bad advice about how to go about fighting Obama. Instead of contrasting himself to the degree of absurdity, he should have tried to attract Independents with a more sane foriegn policy agenda.

    And what's up with him stealing "Ready from Day 1" line from Clinton? That line nauseated people when Hillary used it. It is even worse coming out the mouth of a Republican who has flip-flopped about foreign and domestic issues so many times, no one knows which McCane will show up on any given day.

    May 21, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  4. Xango 4

    WE welcome honest and sincere comments _ h e is right..
    well i hope he endorses and supports our next president..
    senator Obama...

    Obama 08

    May 21, 2008 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  5. PLJ

    WOW!! Is All I can Say about this....I gues as Obama would say, This Is not A Democrat America, or a Republican America, But This Is The United States Of America...

    Support Who ever you so choose...God Bless America!!!!

    May 21, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  6. Randy

    It is amazing how CNN screens these posts. I just read the latest polls and Obama is up against Mccaine by an average of just 3 points...Obama 46 Mccaine why is it that 98% of the comments are just purely against Mccaine when 43% of the country supports him. Surely, I can't be the only one who doesn't get his news from Fox.

    This is despicable CNN....please just report facts and figures and let voters decide for themselves. Stop trying to influence voter's preferences by making it appear the whole country is against Mccaine.

    Haven't you learned a new strategy yet?

    May 21, 2008 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  7. Jim from Middletown, CT

    Dear Mike E. Cooney,
    I agree that freedom exacts a high price. But why does Iraqi freedom have to cost us so much? And, by the way, I didn't see farm subsidies decrease of get eliminated when the Republicans ran Congress, even with Republican President Dum-Dum in office.

    May 21, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  8. Dixie Girl

    Thank you Hagel, a republican with integrity unlike Rushy, Seany and Anny. VP with Obama will be great ! End this War or again send the WV and Kentucky people!!! Since they are distracted by race instead of content of character.

    May 21, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  9. Ohio Dem

    Interesting how McCain's campaign team are leaving and his long time friends are even turning against him. Something dirty must be going on behind the scenes. This certainly does not bode well for the GoP in November. An endorsement from Hagel for Obama would be extremely well received. Interesting thought...bipartisan Presidency? Could that even be done?

    May 21, 2008 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  10. carolflowery

    Last week, liberals in Congress voted for the equivalent of a $150 billion tax increase. They voted to make your next trip to the gas station more expensive; to make your next airplane ticket more expensive; to make heating your home more expensive - even to make feeding your family more expensive.

    How did they do it? By voting to block environmentally sound production of U.S. energy in favor of continuing to be held hostage to oil from foreign dictatorships. I'll explain in a minute.

    May 21, 2008 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  11. charles

    It seems that here of late every time Mcbush opens his mouth he shows us all just how dumb he really is, The warmonger is not fit to be pres., hes a killer, not a hero.

    May 21, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  12. Mack

    Actually McCain has been very soft on Obama. Obama attacks McCain at every chance he gets. Mcain is running for the presidentcy, and one of the thing that a candidate runnig for president do is point out the other candidate's faults. So, are we suppose to believe that only Obama can attack other candidates. Hagel is either jealous of McCain are he wants to be Obama's VP.

    May 21, 2008 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  13. Allan

    McCain, Clinton and Obama are all sitting Senators.

    Listen to those who know them best.

    May 21, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  14. Chris

    Obama/Hagel now THAT is a dream ticket!!!

    May 21, 2008 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  15. Terry, Dallas Texas

    Bad news GOP.

    This one is finished. All the Democrats have to do at this point is pound away at the awful state the country is in and what a great job the Republicans have done in getting us there and it's over.

    I remember the cocky attitude you guys had in the 2006 midterms. Remember what Mr. Rove said? That not only will we keep seats we will add to it? Then remember the look on the GOP leaders faces the next day? Thats your face the day after in November!

    May 21, 2008 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  16. MD

    Hagel. GET SOME GUTS.

    Republicans like you have given the congress to the democrats. What a wuss!

    May 21, 2008 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  17. Independent in Florida

    Sen. Hagel would make a grat VP for Obama, I believe.

    May 21, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  18. beachgirl

    Good for you Sen. Hagel, your friend needs more brains. Have you heard McCain's speeches? he repeats the same sentence twice, listen to him, or he says "MY FRIENDS" one million times! He is a man that does not inspire people, does not have a life! but a wife with lots of money!!! McCain needs to begin his life! go travel......go and spend your money..... enjoy life John!! and leave the White House for someone that will make the american people proud of!

    May 21, 2008 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  19. An American

    A career politician who says anything to voters who want to hear.
    It's up to voters whom you trust the most that he/she will walk the talk more than other.

    May 21, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  20. Richard T. Brady

    Thank God there are one or two well meaning Republicans.

    May 21, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  21. Brennan - Seattle, WA

    Obama-Hagel 08'

    This would be a great ticket.

    May 21, 2008 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  22. RB

    Unfortunately, John McCain is neither as smart nor as honest as you think, Chuck.

    May 21, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  23. w.l. jones

    The more knowledge a person attain the sooner he are her learnt that they do not know as much as they thought they did. Some people have forgotten we are one people of many Nation and yet we put together a civillization unmatch by all the previous one before us. Bless this house we by chance have the oppotunity to show the world that all people can come together for the common good of all.

    May 21, 2008 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  24. Ross in MD

    Anytime 'anyone' praises Obama you see the flurry of 'Anyone' for VP posts.

    You guys really need to chill out.

    May 21, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  25. Tony


    BTW, saw this in the paper today and on CNN's website:

    Should Clinton reject racists? 1:40
    David Gergen says Sen. Hillary Clinton should tell racists that she doesn't want their vote.

    Perhaps it's Obama who should be the one to do so!

    May 21, 2008 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
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