July 27th, 2008
03:30 PM ET
15 years ago

Hagel says judgment more important than experience

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/27/art.hagel.reed.gi.jpg
caption="Jack Reed, left, and Chuck Hagel, right, joined Barack Obama in the Middle East."]

(CNN) - Two former military men who traveled to war zones with Sen. Barack Obama (D-Illinois) say the presumptive Democratic nominee is qualified to be commander in chief, despite his lack of military experience.

Sens. Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska) and Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island) spoke to media this morning in Washington after appearing on CBS’ "Face the Nation." The two accompanied Obama to the Middle East last week.

“Each candidate has strengths and weaknesses, and experience does matter,” Hagel said. “But what matters more in my opinion is character and judgment. And judgment meaning who is it that you bring around, who is it that you listen to? Can you make the right decisions for the right reasons on behalf of your country and the world?”

Both Hagel and Reed spent years in the military. Reed attended West Point and retired as an Army captain, and Hagel earned two Purple Hearts fighting in the Vietnam War. Reed recounted the experience of traveling to military posts with Obama.

“There was something that was really dynamic,” he said. “We were trying to leave the headquarters of the 101st and we couldn't get down to the car because soldiers were flocking out of their duty positions to get autographs, to say hello, to take a picture, and it was just genuine, spontaneous and very, very enthusiastic throughout the entire trip.”

Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) has repeatedly questioned Obama’s stance on the war in Iraq, particularly his opposition to the surge of troops instituted over the past year. The presumptive Republican nominee addressed the topic again in a radio address yesterday.

“Even in retrospect, he would choose the path of retreat and failure for America over the path of success and victory,” said McCain. “That's not exactly my idea of the judgment we seek in a commander-in-chief.”

Reed and Hagel also addressed a new ad from the McCain campaign. The ad’s script says that Obama “made time to go to the gym, but cancelled a visit with wounded troops.” It continues, “Seems the Pentagon wouldn't allow him to bring cameras.” Both Hagel and Reed said the ad is inappropriate.

“It is factually distorted, and it is I hope not a sign of things to come, because there are two many important problems to engage at this point in baseless insinuations about patriotism and about American men and women in uniform,” said Reed.

Hagel, a Republican, has not endorsed either candidate, and he said Americans are fortunate to have a choice between McCain and Obama.

“These are both smart men, they're capable men, they're decent men, and they love their country,” he said.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (303 Responses)
  1. s.positive

    Mcsame will sooner or later admit this...

    July 27, 2008 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  2. Sarah

    Wow. If other Republicans are saying McCain's politics are becoming gutter-politics, then he really needs to rethink his campaign tactics!

    July 27, 2008 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  3. Capt. Smash, Salt Lake City, Utah

    America's brain washing continues sponsored by Fox News, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and America's Right Wing Public Radio.

    The majority of American people do not know how to investigate and learn for there own insight. Everything that the media outlets listed above presents to America it must be gospel. If Obama was Japanese 55% of the American people would believe it.

    Further, if ask them how do the know that? They say I read on the internet or I heard it on Fox News. Those people are so closed minded they refuse to listen to another view point. Fox News wants to demonize Obama as someone evil and out of touch with America and someone who is un-patriotic. So of course alt of Americans just follow along with the crowd and say, OK, Dah, Ok.

    Thank God some Americans will at least give this man a fair chance to make his case for the presidency of the United States of America.

    Obama 08/12

    July 27, 2008 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  4. M.S. Indiana

    McCain, my friend, you cant run from the judgment of going into Iraq in first place... And that without having a plan for Iraq...
    Just like your judgment tells you not to support the GI bill that would have helped our veterans...

    July 27, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  5. Rob

    The praise is well deserved. Obama was adroit, intelligent, on message and yes....Presidential.

    July 27, 2008 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  6. Bill Beni

    I cant wait to hear what McShame going to say to Sen. Hagel, a Republican who is siding with Obama. This ad tells how desperate McBush camp is.

    July 27, 2008 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  7. Bud

    Are some of these McCain ads pretty desparate? I think if John McCain behaved as if he was simply addressing "ISSUES" he could earn some trust. His often getting the true facts before allowing these attack ads hurts his crediability. Too bad.

    McCain suggested Obama go to Iraq and Afghanistan. He did. Then McCain decided Obama shouldn't go because it was political. McCain offered to go with him! Is he upset he wasn't the Republican asked to go with Obama? Maybe those long flights wouldn't have been much fun for Obama with someone sitting beside you that slanders you at ever turn.

    July 27, 2008 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  8. ex-Republican for Obama

    Yes Grandpa McWar flip-flopped and yes he lacks the judgment and knowledge to be a good commander-in-chief. His experience has helped get this country going the wrong way. He has presented NO DOMESTIC POLICY and OFFERS NOTHING BUT REPEATED ATTACKS on Obama's judgment, knowledge, experience and now character. He thinks that's all he has to do to win the election but these tactics won't work this time.

    Obama '08

    July 27, 2008 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  9. Shelley from SC

    Chuck Hagel, what a guy! It is so good to see someone willing to spout common sense, not the party line. The estimations of these highly decorated soldiers, as well as the ones visited in the field on this trip tell us much.

    July 27, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  10. Debra

    I am proud to be in the same country with Barack Obama, Chuck Hagel and Harry Reed. Can we have two Vice Presidents. Obama I feel so bad for you. You are challenge with picking some of the greatest men that America will ever know to be your VEEP. Good luck our future President. I just love all three of you for going to European country and testifying by showing your presents that we are good Americans that want to be friends with our Allies. I am proud to be an America.


    July 27, 2008 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  11. Doris,Memphis,TN

    Even Hagel and Reed are surprised at John McCain's behavior and
    attitude this past week. He has become a part of a "Campaign
    of Whiners".

    July 27, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  12. Michael G- Ventura ca

    These two men can see the genuineness of Senator Obama. The repubiCANT'S throw words like "surrender" and "retreat" around as they have since the 60's and expect the American public to keep buying into it- NOT THIS TIME!

    July 27, 2008 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  13. Will, NJ

    Okay, right-wing dissenters need to organize into a single file line and wait your turn before venting unfounded animosity.

    July 27, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  14. Dan, TX

    John McCain is running the most dishonorable campaign in US History. Obama's plans reduce taxes for more people than McCain's plan and reduced the deficit more than McCain's plan. McCain is in love with taxing people and spending their money. That's what we should expect for someone who has been a government employee paid by taxpayers his whole life.

    July 27, 2008 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  15. Kevin

    welcome president Obama.

    July 27, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  16. chidi

    he proves a point..i think he is very right

    July 27, 2008 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  17. Mo

    I don't know to whom McCain is fooling by telling the surge is the factor in curbing violence in Iraq. The truth is we could have done this with less military and resources if we know how to do the right way from the beginning. The good example is the first Gulf war. We don't need more and more our service men. Our 130,000 service men as good as other 30,000. The only problem was we were arrogant in the beginning. So we abandon Iraqi army and rejected the Sunni folks just because Saddam Hussain was Sunni. We learn the lesson hard way. Now we have Sunni shaiks on American payroll to fight Al-Qiada. This credit goes to Gen. Petraeus who know how important is to work with everybody Sunnis, Shias and kurds to have peace in Iraq.

    July 27, 2008 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  18. S. Boatman

    All Mccain Can Do Is Attack Obama Because He Has No Issues He Can Stand On! He Doesnt Have The Judgement To Run A Decent Campaign! He Doesnt Have The Vision To Move The Country Forward! He Is A Liar And Panderer Only Out To Keep The Failed Bush Policies Going! Mccain Represents A Third Bush Term At Its Worst!

    July 27, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  19. Redneck from Kentucky

    John McCain is the LAST person I would want to see become Commander in Chief. He would have us in World War III within the first two years of his term.

    July 27, 2008 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  20. conspiracy theorist

    bi-partisan support?that can't be beat!thank you,chuck hagel,for being a man of honor and integrity,at a time when mccainism republicans are showing a lack of both.their constant attacks against obama are not anywhere near honorable,and their integrity is in question,because of mccain's support of the current failed administration.

    July 27, 2008 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  21. Greg in Annapolis

    So much for McCain's argument that Obama isn't ready to be Commander-in-Chief. It looks like McSurge's campaign is crumbling around him. I'm beginning to think that the only logical thing for him to do is to cast his vote for Obama in November and then retire! Obama is the best candidate in decades! Maybe we won't be the punchline of the world's jokes any more!

    July 27, 2008 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  22. Dolly,

    Is CNN the official Obama campaign website with it's 'join the Obama campaign button"?

    July 27, 2008 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  23. Doreen Augusta Maine

    Thank you Senator Hagel and Reed - we need more of your type of men to stand up and be truthful.

    July 27, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  24. Rose

    Hagel and Reed say the McCain ad is inappropriate, what was inappropriate was how Obama blew off some of the Military especially those in the German hospital, that is not what a CIC does. He had the freedom to vist those countries because of the Military who protect our freedoms. Obama's trip was nothing but a farce, he said his visit supported his point of view about the Middle East. All he has to do is read the paper, we all know what is going on over there. Does he really think that people are that stupid. Actions speak louder than words and Obama is full of words and NO actions. This guy has not accomplished one thing during his 143 days in the Senate.

    July 27, 2008 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  25. tigerakabj

    Thank you. Judgment and character are the key. McCain has proved that he has neither.

    1. McCain was one of the biggest drum beaters for the war. Even until recently, he talked about 100 years there, then until 2013, now who knows.
    2. He also showed a lack of character by his "treason" comment about Barack. Add to that the Keating 5 scandal (which the media won't discuss).

    McCain needs to shut up, hand over the election to Barack, and sit his butt down in a retirement home in Arizona where he can BBQ-it-up all he wants.

    Obama/Sebelius 2008/2012.

    July 27, 2008 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
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