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. Luke Brown, Charleston SC

    McCain = Crusty old curmudgeon

    Just last month Big Mac was criticizing Obama for NOT going to Iraq and Afghanistan. Now he is attacking him for going. McCain needs to be positive and stop griping. If he wants to lead our country, he needs to show some vision.

    July 27, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  2. Raymond Duke

    What Reed says is amazing to me . I am retired and live around fort Hood and know people who have family members and friends who where at these locations that Obama and his group went to and said that he spent all his time including meals with the officers and not the enlisted. He did have some supporters . Most of them were black and just like the blacks not in the military are voting for him on skin color only.As far as Reed being a West point graduate and leaving as a captain it seems a little strange . Most of the time if a west pointer leaves at that rank they were (RIFTED) in other words put out of the military.

    July 27, 2008 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  3. Mary, Kansas City, Missouri

    I am a registered Democrat, I don't necessarily trust Republican politicians, but I trust Hagel and Reed if they were for McCain I would trust their judgement. On Face the Nation, they spoke on the inappropriateness of Mccain's ad. For someone who said they would run a clean campaign, he must have meant he would only if he were winning. Somehow I think McCain thinks the Presidency is owed him. I await his temper to rear it's ugly head, so the real McCain can be seen.

    July 27, 2008 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  4. Raymond Duke

    Oh by the way if we had listen to Hagel we would have lost. He has the same fiew as Obama "cut and run". With officers like him no wonder we lost the war in vietnam.

    July 27, 2008 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  5. ANGIE


    July 27, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  6. Maggie Muggins From Selwyn

    McCain seems to use any means at his disposal to take away from the fact he voted to invade an innocent country and is guilty of murder in the first degree. Hundreds of thousands of innocent women, men and children have been killed and maimed because of McCain's get oil at any price tactics.

    Trying to cover up by saying the world is better off without Saddam Hussien simply means McCain is willing to kill anyone he thinks is bad according to his frame of mind. Using this criteria he has a lot more killing to do in this world and he could get a good start on it with the present administration as they are just as guilty of murder as any tyrant in the past.

    July 27, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  7. Sue

    How ironic the McInsane campaign decided to use DoD footage of Barack Obama shooting basketball when he (Obama) was with the troops?

    McInsane get a clue.....you don't accuse someone of not visiting the troops with a photo of said person surrounded by American troops.


    July 27, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  8. Miranda

    Now let's see how the neo-cons try and smear Senator Hagel. I'm sure they are squirming and making voodoo dolls in his likeness at this very moment .

    July 27, 2008 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  9. Fed up with the lies

    Amen Sen. Hagel. A sharp mind and good advice will win out every day over "experience" and mediocre thinking.

    July 27, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  10. MamaTjaye

    I suppose McCain should learn to watch what he asks for. He challenged Obama to go to the Middle East ... and he soared!!

    July 27, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  11. Kris from arizona

    It is clear that Hagel and Reed are going with their hearts. Just not the party they belonged to. We have had a hard core administration. Now it is time for a BRAIN TO BE CEO OF THIS COUNTRY. Bush listened to Cheney for too long making him probably the weakest president to date. I think the older crowd...not all but the ones that dont think Obama will not do a good job..again think about what you got in MCcain. He is OLD, HIS IDIALOLOGY IS NOT OF THE 21ST CENTURY. IS THAT WHERE YOU WANT TO BE KEPT. THE 20TH CENTURY. A CENTURY OF WAR? Think about what this country needs and What this world needs. The WORLDS eye is on us.

    July 27, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  12. Texas Hottie

    Umm.....who cares about surge?

    How about we shouldn't have gone into IRAQ in the first place?

    Where was McCain's judgement then?

    Give me a break.

    McCain thinks we're dumb. He thinks we're worried about surges when in fact we're thinking about gas and food prices, home foreclosures...my student loans are killing me folks!!!

    He thinks we're dumb and that just isn't right.

    Dudes and dudettes, this is guy McCain is just lame.

    July 27, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  13. Nick, Rochester, NY

    You bet it went well especially the work out at the gym with Bild Zeitung reporter Judy who informed us that his hip did not sweat. CNN itself saw fit to report this profound observation.

    If the Berliners want to influence our elections, let them immigrate to the US, become citizens and vote for him. We welcome immigrants, unlike most of the countries Obama visited.

    July 27, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  14. Steven

    Senator Obama and I visited the combat support hospital in Baghdad to thank those nurses, those doctors, to see patients that were there, to bring a bit of greetings from home and profound thanks," he said. "That should be in the ad that Senator McCain is running.

    In Baghdad, Senator Obama made a point, at the end of a very exhausting day, to go in and see these magnificent young Americans and those doctors and nurses that give such tremendous care – without a lot of fanfare, just to say 'Thanks.'

    They went to Jalalabad to see the soldiers of the 173rd. They stopped in Basra to see our soldiers down there. They went into Anbar province to see soldiers there.

    McCain New Ad Is Wrong and Very Distorted,

    July 27, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  15. Ron democrat turned independent

    what part of this story am i missing sen. obama said that general patreus was not in favor of a time table withdrawal. so much for listening to you commanders on the ground. unreal. here is a person who as never been in the millitary has never even been in the reserves but he feels he is better qualified to make a millitary judgement. and the way he spoke about the general listening to his two or three stars. not two or three star GENERALS (that would have shown respect) BUT SIMPLY HIS TWO OR THREE STARS shows the total lack of respect this person as for anybody. if that three oclock phone calls ever comes ?

    July 27, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  16. David Goldman for OBAMA








    OF THAT ?????

    July 27, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  17. Vig

    Obama is one big empty suit.

    July 27, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  18. Steve, New York, New York

    Chuck Hagel is AWESOME!!! Should Obama win, I hope that Senator Hagel has a spot in his administration (in the VERY LEAST, Defense Secretary)!

    July 27, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  19. Bill, Covington

    I took my honorable discharge from the USMC just one month short of 60 years ago, If I was enlisted today and that obama became commander in chief I definately would not re-up.
    Hagle and Reed are a couple idiots and I wouldn't expect anything different from them. They are just sucking around for some kind of favoritism if the obama is elected.

    July 27, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  20. Judgement over experience

    GWB had experience. Enough said on that. Obama's judgment has been brilliant so far and he has been right on everything so far. And, if he manages the country like he has his campaign America will be great again! Speaking of judgement, with all john mccain's so called experience he still voted on the war.

    July 27, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  21. Sarah

    The main issue is who supported Iraq war in the first place...
    McCain is a war monger and he will do every thing possible to stay in Iraq for 50 years...
    We have no choice but leave Iraq ASAP

    July 27, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  22. Reality

    Coming from a Republican:

    Hear that PUMAS? You have just as much judgement as your old man... NONE!

    July 27, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  23. Willy

    I have no clue why I am standing here with those 2 old men behind me.

    July 27, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  24. Dr.Mimi De La Cruz for OBAMA









    July 27, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  25. Marie Canada

    Hagel just sunk McCain with his Judgement more important than experience remark. Of course all McCain's experience is in Congress and most of it since the Bush regime has been a bad experience with him supporting Bush 95% of the time.

    Obama has proven he has superior judgement.............just voting against the illegal invasion of Iraq highlights that fact.

    McCain has some experience in Congress but bad experiences should not be hailed as credentials. His voting record shows he votes against women and veterans on almost every issue. Now that is not a good experience.

    July 27, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
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