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. Tracy

    Judgement is knowing what war to wage and with whom to wage war with. Going into Iraq was a strategic blunder that costs us lives and money. Our economy went down because we are fighting two wars. The war on Terror is in Afghanistan when Al-queda is located. Stop fulling yourself. A commander in chief has to consider more than a general on the ground. It takes a REAL man to make the world believe in America again. It was a man that suggested 16 month timeetable. It was a man that suggested talking to Iran. It is a REAL man that can excite the troops. A Real man that can draw 200,000. Obama will be president.

    July 27, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  2. Not McDrain

    If I hear him rant on the surge one more time, I'll faint. Even if the surge was a brilliantly strategized maneuver, (and not a mere coincidence of other factors at work) What else can he lay claim to??? Certainly NOT good judgment. He flubbed that when he failed to discuss anything else! I can't figure out how this guy emerged as the Repugnant nominee.

    July 27, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  3. pc

    Obama is a wise leader. People are jealous of him because he has a lot to offer America. He can't help it if he is attractive.

    Go Obama!

    July 27, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  4. BJGT

    Hagel said "John (McCain) is treading on some very thin ground here when he impugns motives and when we start to get into, 'You're less patriotic than me. I'm more patriotic ... "it's just not responsible to be saying things like that."

    He also said "I do not think it was appropriate" regarding McCain's ad bashing Obama for not visiting troops in Germany

    July 27, 2008 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  5. Steph

    I didn't know that Mc Cain did the surge him self. A good commander and chief.

    July 27, 2008 07:24 pm at 7:24 pm |
  6. Cathy

    I love how the media or McCain's supporters haven't questioned McCain on his poor judgment for authorizing a war based on all lies. If Tim Russet was alive today, I know he would get McCain to take back his vote just like he did with Hillary Clinton during the primaries.

    Experiences is overrated. McCain's experience failed him when he cast his vote to send American troops into Iraq based on all lies. If it wasn't for McCain and all the other robots in Congress that voted for the war thousands of family wouldn't be morning for their fallen soldiers.

    P.S. To Voter: With all do respect to the men and women of uniform, a uniform doesn't make you a better person. It's how you wear that uniform that makes you a better person. The fact that Obama did not serve in the military has zero baring on him being the best person to be our next President.

    Obama '08

    July 27, 2008 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  7. Krissy

    McCain's actions are truly disappointing. If he had a case, he wouldn't have to lie and distort Obama's positions.

    McCain discredits Col. MacFarland when he tries to give all of the credit for the reduction in violence and the Anbar Awakening on the surge. Anbar was prepped in June of 2006, and the revolutionary meeting happened on Sept. 9th 2006 (long before December like McCain claims). McCain is using the military to lie to the American people. Very, very disappointing.

    July 27, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  8. Vet Girl

    Most of people talking about Obama military service has not served this country. Go Obama...Tex Vet for ya.

    July 27, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  9. Steph

    I love McCain and the many wars he will start. I heard he was a general in the army. The soldiers like him more than Obama. He gave more autographs to the soldiers. When will he give his first world war speech. In Berlin?

    July 27, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  10. Ruka

    MCcain lacks the judgement to rule this country, he contradicts his stands on every issue and no one seem to care.He said the surge has succeeded,if this is true why does he want us to remain in Iraq inspite of Al malaki's insistance for a timetable. what are we missing here? do we love Iraq than Iraqis themeselves? who is fooling who? please bring our troops home and save our economy.

    July 27, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  11. DRK

    I'm appalled that I'm even thinking it, but DAN and Voter's comments make me want to reconsider literacy tests for voters . . .

    July 27, 2008 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  12. maria

    I agree judgement is more important than experience in this election. Because experience in this case means more McBush or worst.

    Who says Mccain is more experience he doesn't know his geography, he does not support the troops, crashed how many planes and got himself captured?

    July 27, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  13. Phil, FL

    Some of you republicans are so ignorant you should be ashamed to even attempt a post. It's repulsive to know such repugnant, idiotic people live in this country.

    July 27, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  14. TJ Johnson

    No, Hag, experience trumps. "Judgment" is simply practice during gaining of experience.

    July 27, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  15. AZ Voter

    Real men? Surely you don't mean McCain:

    "I said, 'O.K., I'll give you military information if you will take me to the hospital.'" – John Mccain in his own words

    July 27, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  16. Bob

    With Obama's superior judgement we would not need for a surge nor would we have lost 4000+ troops and hundreds of billions of dollars in the first place . That is superior judgement.

    July 27, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  17. Michelle, Indiana

    Let's see Hagel (a Republican) says judgment is more important and says the ad by his own party is inappropriate. Hagel would make a good VP for Obama as would Gen. Wesley Clark or Joe Biden. President Obama has a nice ring to it.

    July 27, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  18. Alex

    i get a feeling like these neocons here are like klingons... "coward" who says it the most...

    July 27, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  19. Obama Does It Better

    I would trust Obama's decisions over McCain in a heart beat. McCain is selling his military experience but he was only in Vietnam and was shot down and a POW for 5 years. Tell me what is his experience? Is it, how to survice being a POW? They are both senators, no executive experience to speak of, I am making my decision based on what see happening now. McCain just don't do it for me.

    July 27, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  20. Michele Hussein, Oregon

    Dan, I trust Obama HANDS DOWN to McCain if my own kids were in Iraq.

    Of course the surge would work to curb the violence TEMPORARILY. A blogger astutely used the analogy of putting police on every corner of a drug ridden neighborhood – as soon as the police leave, the problem creeps back again and there needs to be a more nuanced approach that escapes John McCain. McCain's "goog" judgement as you say has little vision for the future other than the occupation of a sovereign nation.

    I'm so glad Obama was received so well by the troops. THEY ARE THERE and see that he is the real deal. Hope people like Dan and Voter wake up and see the gift we have been given in Barack Obama.

    July 27, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  21. Truth Seeker

    I don't understand why the media doesn't cover the deaths of all the innocent civilians, mostly women and children, that have died because of our occupation... Who are we really defending? Definitely not our economic or national security..Maybe just hallibuton's and Bush's cronies...
    Why don't we bring world justice on and convict Bush and his administration of WAR CRIMES... The world would be a much more peaceful place if we got rid of the radicals on "both" sides of the fence

    July 27, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  22. NICK

    DAN, you're not human. No sane person would come to your conclusions based on logic and fact. You're only hurting yourself by becoming a tool for propaganda, rather than performing some simple research to come up with an informed point of view.

    Neither McCain nor Obama is evil, and I'm sure either one would be trustworthy enough to watch your kids. The surge has worked, because violence is down overall, and some sense of balance has been achieved in Iraq. But, this balance is tenuous at best, and the whole point of the surge was to achieve political reconciliation. It's simply not possible to define a "victory" in Iraq. Either way, we've done quite a bit of damage there, for all of the good things that have been achieved. At best, we can leave with some sense of stability and the new shia-based Iraqi government will hopefully not create an Iraq/Iran superpower.

    Please show some reason and respect in your comments, people. We're all Americans, and humans on this planet trying to live together without destroying each other.

    July 27, 2008 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  23. Interracial Voter

    Obama's Irag policies have already been endorsed and put into action under code name "Time Horizons" by the Bush Administation. So once again McCain is late and wrong......

    July 27, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  24. john

    i am not a physician but i think john mcCain need a head CT scan becos if you listen to this guy he is all over the place and he does not recollect things. I do not beleive he is lying but i do beleive something is wrong somehow and somewhere. Old age has nothing to do with this but based on his medical history.

    July 27, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  25. Tyler in Raleigh

    Great the surge worked (depending on how you define "worked", much like "mission accomplished").

    But WHO CARES! Winning a pointless war that should never have been fought is no more honorable than leaving a pointless war where we are not wanted.

    July 27, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
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