July 27th, 2008
03:30 PM ET
13 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. Bifidous Regularis

    You too bloggers above are cowards trying to hide your racism behind bogus criticism of Obama. The surge is one small tatctical issue that McCain is trying to make overshadow his vote for the invasion at the onset. Guys come out and say what you want to really say...."YOUR NOT COMFORTABLE WITH A BLACKMAN AS PRESIDENT !!!" I can respect that because we have had all white presidents since that job was created. Be men about it....get it off your chest and then fall in line with "Change" because whether Obama wins or not, "change is uhh comin."

    July 27, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  2. Trollmaster

    McCain being right about the surge is minor compared to him being wrong about invading Iraq in the first place.

    And how can Republicans say we're going to lose in Iraq when they've told us we've already won at least 10 different times already?

    It's great to see a Dem canidate that doesn't get trapped into playing Republican's silly swiftboat games, and outright rejects their made up false arguements.

    July 27, 2008 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  3. Bryan

    Mcsame support of the war cost the life of 4000 U.S. soldiers and more then 100.000 Iraki lifes. Obama opposing the war mean if he was commander in chief it would save ALL OF THESE LIVES.

    July 27, 2008 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  4. BWM

    McCain is an idiot! He can't read a tele-prompter. He declines question and answer conferences. That's because he can't answer questions. What wars has he won? What bread and butter issues did he discuss when he had the chance. All he did was whine and criticize Obama when he wanted him to go overseas. Be careful what you wish for?
    If McCain is elected, we are all in trouble. He is a warmonger with an explosive temper.

    July 27, 2008 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  5. Bulldog

    McCain is a fool. How can anyone factually say that a strategy would not work. Obama had a strategy in place of the "surge" and McCain seems to believe he's a physic who can see that any other strategy wouldn't have worked. The surge happened over 1.5 years ago. It was supposed to originally be for 6 months, then a year, and now this. Has it stopped violence in Iraq. Yes, at the same time the violence in Afganistan has increased substantially. Basically the surge just pushed the insurgents out of Iraq and into Afghanistan. So McCain's surge helped Iraq while at the same time hurt Afghanistan. Why is the media not reporting any of the statistics of the violence going up in Afghanistan just as the surge in Iraq has quelled the violence there? Look at the facts. McCain is a moron.

    July 27, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  6. McGaffe

    McCain is the worst person to have in the Whitehouse!! He can talk about the surge all he wants, the fact is a surge would not even be inthe picture if he has the JUDGEMENT to not fight a war that should not have been waged in the 1st place!!

    But then again McSurge=McWar=McBush

    July 27, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  7. Lourdes

    Really DAN (1st comment)?? Did McCain's good judgement protect the 4100+ soldiers (mostly kids) that have died as a result of the war he voted to authorize which we now know was waged under faulty pretenses? Why should we trust him with our kids when he already misjudged so badly by supporting a war he mistakenly thought would be quick and easy, that would pay for itself, that would be over in 3 months... he was SO WRONG then...why should we trust him now?! Your memory is incredibly short-term.

    July 27, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  8. Art Haus

    Bush started the Iraq war with McCain's feverish support. Now the Pentagon refused Obama's request to visit wounded troups without cameras, and McCain lies about it. He was comfortable with Bush's lies; and he's comfortable with his own.

    July 27, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |

    To Dan and anyone else who thinks like that, consider some real judgement. Obama OPPOSED THE WAR! OPPOSED IT! MCCAIN SUPPORTED IT! We would have over 4,000 men and women still alive if we had not gotten into this stupid war with a country that never attacked us. Even Bush Sr. knew after Desert Storm when we kicked Saddam out of Kuwait that taking Iraq was a bad idea. We could have done it then but cooler heads prevailed. Then, after 9/11 hysteria sets in, guys like Bush jr. and McCain lose their judgement. But what do they care? They are just some rich guys who like war and don't mind sending young men and women to die!

    McCain jokes about going to war with Iran while Obama speaks of dialouge and is made out to be soft. Don't fall for it!

    Obama '08

    July 27, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  10. rhoward

    Dan –

    You make it sound as if McCain has personally gone out and fought the surge all by himself.

    By the way, if Senator McCain's judgement is so great, why does he keep appropriating Senator Obama's ideas as his own? Seems like if Senator McCain is all that smart, he could think of better solutions without stealing them from someone he has been constantly denigrating for the last few months.

    July 27, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  11. Tammy/Indiana

    July 27th, 2008 6:56 pm ET

    DAN: The surge is working and save so many lives and that's because of McCain's goog judgement while Obama was and is still against the surge. How many lives has Obama 's judgement saved since he's become US senator? 0. Obama was hoping the surge would fail and many more kids would get blown up for his own political gains. Obama has had no plans or judgement on saving lives. Who would you trust your kids with? McCain who dramatically brought the monthly violence down or Obama who has done nothing to save your kids in Iraq except criticize the surge. Obama has no judgement when it counts.

    If Obama had it his way...no soldiers would have died.....he opposed the illegal war....Dan you are such a DUH!!!

    July 27, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  12. Zeal from Florida

    this is to Dan!
    I've never seen somebody so dumb in my life. How dumb? Maybe you forgot that it was McDumb that colaborated with his twin brother, bush, who unlawfully invaded, killed sadam and many other iraqi civilians for no sensible reason whatsoever.

    I'll be thrilled if McIdiot could come out with not a old-man-reason for not applying a good judgement for going to Iraq in the 1st place. And he said "we are not succeeding in Iraq, we have succeeded." If we have succeeded like he said, why still wanna stay there for 100 more years.

    He also wanna claim the credit of somebody else work by suggesting that the so-called "surge" happened before it was introduced bush in 2007. He just wanna keep running a fact-free campaign by whinning, lying, criticize, attact, attact and attact his opponent.

    If he keep on doing these and the conservatives in main stream media keep helping him get away with it by not calling him on it, and if Obama do the same, likes of the whole Faux news, Anderson 000, wolf blitzer, Lou dumbs and others at CNN, afternoon Joe and David gregory and co. at msnbc would help re-enforce the criticism from mcbastard camp-pain.

    July 27, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  13. Linda31

    Spoken like a true war hero....I meant Hagel and Reed. Our own troops are praying for Obama as President. Those that doubt his Commander-in-Chief status should look to the troops for guidance.

    July 27, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  14. Markeis

    You talk about the surge like it's a good thing. This surge was brought on by so many American soldiers and innocent Iraqi citizens dying day after day. The war has cost billions of dollars and more importantly thousands of lives. I feel like we now live in fear more because of this war than before. The only war we should be focused on is in Afghanistan. McCain talks how the surge is a good thing for us. This is only a good thing until the terrorist start recruiting more. Remember that McCain also said we should be thanking Bush for the oil prices falling. Isn't Bush the reason that the oil prices skyrocketeed? Why would I thank a person who has made my life worse? Obama 08/12

    July 27, 2008 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  15. Informed Voter

    Mc Cain supported the war in Iraq from the start .. yes, he lacks judgment as a man who claims he has military experience this was a HUGE NEGATIVE for him ..

    And those claiming the Surge worked should know that other factors contributed towards the the quell in violence in Iraq .. this could have also been the case without the surge

    If we never went into Iraq into the 1st place there would have never been a Surge, we wouldn't have wasted billions on dollars in and unnecessary war & we wouldn't have lost over 4000 Americans soldiers on this unnecessary war

    All you hear from Mc Cain & his pathetic supporters is "A NOUN, A VERB & SURGE/IRAQ


    July 27, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  16. SANDRA


    July 27, 2008 07:56 pm at 7:56 pm |
  17. Clinton/McCain

    "Hagel says judgment more important than experience"

    ....and boy does Obama have bad judgement.....Wright, Bill Ayers..

    July 27, 2008 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  18. Mccain never won a war

    DAN July 27th, 2008 6:56 pm ET

    The surge is working and save so many lives and that's because of McCain's goog judgement while Obama was and is still against the surge. How many lives has Obama 's judgement saved since he's become US senator? 0. Obama was hoping the surge would fail and many more kids would get blown up for his own political gains. Obama has had no plans or judgement on saving lives. Who would you trust your kids with? McCain who dramatically brought the monthly violence down or Obama who has done nothing to save your kids in Iraq except criticize the surge. Obama has no judgement when it counts.

    Wow i thought people are smart now not just say things just because they hate but say things with facts.The surge in iraq worked cause america had to bribe the tribal leaders in iraq even if you ask a 10yrs old will tell you why it worked it was in the news so many times but i guess you are to deaf to hear facts before criticizing and let me ask you why are you not in iraq fighting too let me gues you did your part already and that will be vietnam which was a war america never won and maccain lead not to even say he knows about war ask a kid 13yr old in africa they know about war and know how to win one.
    Get your head out of the basket and quit drinking so that you may know what is happening around you.

    July 27, 2008 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  19. Obama you are the man 08/12

    Dan /SAVING LIVES why don't you wake up ? can you read or have you forgot McBush/Cheney and all their crooked lier fallowers went in to Iraq and started this war for no reason .............................. just to fill their bank accounts /Mc Haliburton and have not only killed over 4,000 Warriors and injured thousands for the rest of their lives not to mention all the Iraq thousands of People killed /injured .
    Put your surge in your ear since you don't want to hear the real truth about the McBush gang.
    The reason McWar got in Naval accademy \was his Grandpa / Daddy in Military paving McWars was /he had lowest grades of all there . If it was any other person with no smarts as McWar they would not be admitted ........
    It wasn;'t what he knew it was who he knew his old Grandpappy and Daddy.

    July 27, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  20. JP

    Judgment more important than experience? Looks like Obama stands very close to King Solomon himself on judgment.

    July 27, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  21. Femi Kolawole

    Dan, I feel sorry down to the bottom of my stomach when people of limited knowledge like you would not find out the fact before jumping into the arena of intellectual discussion thereby making themselves fools in the public. The fact remains that your candidate-McCain voted to authorise the death of over 4000 Americans in by dragging us into a civil war of another far away country that has nothing to do with the savety and security of our USA; all because of his bad and wisdomless judgement. If you care to know, Americans are tired of war loving President we want a Peace loving President. Barack Obama is a peace loving candidate, and he will be our next Peace-loving President.

    July 27, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  22. Dan

    hey DAN, if people had sense enough to listen to Obama's good judgment five years ago then it would've saved 4000+ American lives and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi ones. Just because the "surge" has slowed the violence, doesn't mean this joke of a war is suddenly a success. No one should be patted on the back for slightly improving a miserable ill-planned quagmire. McCain is going to continue to leave our troops in harm's way for NO REASON WHATSOEVER. I dare you to tell me what this war has accomplished.

    July 27, 2008 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  23. I know, I know

    We should get that Cathholic Priest to do a take-off on MCain. His constatnt pleading to anyone who will listen is reminiscent of the Priests' ridicule of Hilary, where she bawled about being entitled to the nomination.. He seems so whiny about insisting that he be given special recognition for the success of the Surge. He feels that this entitles him to be president. The fact of the matter is that we could invade and occupy any country, and would encounter resistance, but with our superior military technolohy, would eventually wear down the resistance...as long as Americans were willing to bear the cost in blood and treasure. Look out France, you may be next.....especially the way your president fawned over Barrack.

    July 27, 2008 08:04 pm at 8:04 pm |
  24. S. Boatman

    Mccain Lacks The Judgement To Be President! He Is Also A Liar!

    July 27, 2008 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  25. me

    We would not have needed a surge if the RIGHT decision had been made about the Iraq war to start with – and that is to NOT go to war with Iraq but take care of Afghanistan first. If the surge is so successful then why are we not bringing troops home? Right now it is just an occupation of a country.

    After listening to McSame and Obama tonight I am more convinced than ever that we do not need McSame in the White house. He claims that he knows how to win wars – which war did he win? As I recall he was a POW.

    No – we NEED President Obama not a repeat of George Bush.

    July 27, 2008 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
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