[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/11/art.mccain.7.11..jpg caption="McCain said Hagel has made an 'informed decision' about Iraq."]OMAHA, Nebraska (CNN) - John McCain said he's pleased Chuck Hagel is accompanying Barack Obama to the Middle East because the Nebraska senator - although "wrong" on Iraq - has military experience and has made "an informed decision" about the war.
McCain was peppered with questions about Hagel while campaigning in Nebraska Wednesday evening.
Speaking to reporters after meeting workers a trucking company, McCain again called it "remarkable" that Obama would give a major policy speech on Iraq and Afghanistan without first traveling to those countries or consulting with Gen. David Petraeus.
The presumptive nominee said he is "pleased" that Obama will be accompanied by Hagel, "who has military experience, who has knowledge of these issues."
"Senator Hagel is wrong," McCain said. But, he added: "Senator Hagel has visited Iraq. Senator Hagel has made an informed decision. Senator Hagel, although I disagree with some of his conclusions, the fact is that Senator Obama has never examined the issue carefully, at least from the standpoint of sitting down and discussing the situation with the commanding officer on the ground."
McCain also responded to speculation that Hagel could be tapped as Obama's running mate.
"Look," he said, "I don't know anything about that, except to say Chuck Hagel is a distinguished veteran and a very dear and close friend of mine, who I cherish his friendship for many, many years."