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. Marj,Paso Robles, Cal

    Dumbama has neither.

    July 27, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  2. PUMA-Jessie

    Well, my comments were moderate and true, yet you sent me to moderation again. I can only guess the reason and I believe that its because I have "PUMA" with my name.

    July 27, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  3. a southern bell for OBAMA







    July 27, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  4. PUMA-Jessie

    Well that was a improvement, now I will see if I can get in that Obama is a serial flip flopper. He has flipped again on the war and now has had four position, some of which he has given twice.

    July 27, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  5. Dave in Illinois

    "And judgment meaning who is it that you bring around, who is it that you listen to".

    In Obama's case that obviously will be his liberal political advisers who tell him how many votes he'll get by promising a troup pull out without considering the situation on the ground in Iraq or eventually Afganistan if he does become President.

    July 27, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  6. gp

    That was yet another briliant move on Obama part to have witnese on this trip, even more so that seems to be media becoming fearful to report about Obama positive effec on the rest of the world.Shame. We cpould be proud !!!!! Poor McSame until now he was screaming you should get to know this gay ,let send him abrod so you see...And now screaming why is there interest to know how things go and how this gay is doing ...away with him I will tell you all about him....even media shouldn't let people know who he is . Since when people have chance to get to know him , gess what THEY START LIKING HIM . What a threat for poor McSame.

    July 27, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  7. Loretta from California

    and I agree with Senator Hagel. In my opinion Senator McCain's judgment is in question because he chooses war over diplomacy.
    Most of his statements are about the war....the surge, surge, surge.

    July 27, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  8. CSL

    Obama did a very good job with his trip and he stands out as a well-informed leader.
    McCain is just full of sour grapes.
    In fact, McCain is worse than that: he is not inspiring, he is not up-to-date on world events, he is old and grumpy, and he appears to have a thinly veiled really bad temper. I hope we don't end up having to live with that temper for the next 4 years.

    July 27, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  9. aware

    Give it up Hagel!

    Obama has neither judgment nor experience – just arrogance, audacity, egomania and a huge lust for power.

    Obama has no moral center and no core principles but he does excel in political expediency. This all adds up to no character! 🙁

    July 27, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  10. linda from South Dakota

    i agree,, sometimes one has to listen and cant always go with expeience but then only expeience mccain has is being a vet,,, if he truely understood things over there (1) he would do things differently not listen to bush and (2) he wouldnt complain all the time,,,, mccain,,, advice from americans,, RETIRE AND TAKE A LONG VACATION!!!!,, you wont win anyways,, go obama 08!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 27, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  11. Michael

    Mccin has become the major attack dog, from politicizing campaign to Obama not visiting the America wounded troops. It just shows a lot about the irony of his straight talk express. Right now I seem to have forgotten almost all the stands that Mccain has for the country. He thinks he can distract the people from the main issues, but i guess he will loss in a landslide if he continues this way.

    July 27, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  12. bill pike

    obama tells the world after the election he is taking our troops out in 16 months, has not changed his idea on this illegal war that mcbush made up and now what i hear as an attempt to hide what bush and the PM of iraq agreed to–his 16 months to get out. IF HE CAME TO MY HOUSE I WOULD TELL HIM NOT TO HAVE ANY DEBATES WITH MCBUSH, TO GO TO THE PUBLIC. the debates are bush defending Iraq, the economy where bread may go to $5.00 a loaf because of Iraq and really bad economy things this admin has done. DO NOT DEBATE THIS OTHER PARTY-DON'T HAVE TO AND FRANKLY I DON'T WANT ANY MANURE ON MY SHOES BEING AROUND THEM.

    July 27, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  13. Herman Cruse

    First, John McCain blasted Sen. Obama for not going overseas to further examine the overseas dilemmas in Afghanistan and Iraq. So, as a result, Sen. Obama heads overseas for what seemed like a whirlwind superstar tour that captivated not only the troops but Afghans, Iraqis(including the Prime Minister!), Germans, French, and Brits. And not only was John McCain bitter about the effect Sen. Obama had overseas but, I believe that he was jealous at Sen. Obama as well as the media coverage regarding the trip. So, John McCain, PLEASE MAKE UP YOU MIND!!! His personal attacks mean nothing. He proves to be a "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" type of politician who doesn't offer anything close to the change this country needs compared to the previous 7-8 years Now, that's not change that we can believe in...

    July 27, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  14. Anthony

    Judgement does matter. I hope people get that through their heads. Obama should pick hagel for VP

    July 27, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  15. Mark

    No John McCain, Barack had chosen the right path all along, you can't be defeated, if the war which was NEVER supposed to happen, and in fact hapened for all the wrong reasons, was never waged!!

    John you are out of touch with American, its citizens, and I hope when this is all done, you go crawl into a hole never to resurface, you war mongering fool!

    Obama 08!

    July 27, 2008 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  16. Lim

    With that statement, Hagel acknowledges that
    Obama's experience is lacking compared to

    July 27, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  17. Willis, Texas

    McStupid is not a "capable man" - he is so unbelievably stupid that he makeS Bush look SMART!

    This morning McStupid said in response to a question: "I know and the people I know, know that I know when I say I know how to solve that problem!! (WHAT??!)

    July 27, 2008 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  18. Steve

    Bush has experience and so does McBush. But it's the kind of experience the country can do without for future generations. No thank McCain. We don't need another Bush.

    July 27, 2008 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  19. Brian G, Sugar Land, TX

    Obama's international leadership (military and political) will be tempered by the Cabinet and advisers he surrounds himself with. Given the people he has already drawn to him both Republican, Democrat, politician and military, there can be little doubt Obama will enlist the very best to help him with his presidency.

    July 27, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  20. The Shepherd

    True, Hagel, very true. Obama lacks good judgement.

    “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?”

    Obama has listened to Jerimiah Wright's sermons for twenty years. Wright was his friend and mentor. He has done business with Tony Rezco. He has changed his stance on most issues since the primary elections.

    I thank God that I am gifted with good reasoning. I can't believe so many people can be took in by the Obama campaign and the news media. But, this may be God's will that people are blind to what is going on. This could be the beginning of the end. In that case, I recomend everyone start reading John 3:16 in the King James Version of the Holy Bible and be prepared for the tribulation.

    July 27, 2008 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  21. roger dowdle, lockhart, Tx

    McCain has no room to taalk when criticizing Obama on visiting troops. Especially since it occurred due to military regs. McCain has voted against every benefit to retired/ex military that comes up. Even Bush, McCains hero, is coming around to Obama's view on troop withdrawal, taalking to iran, etc. The iraqis agree with Obama ,Europeans agree with him. McCain is soundind more and more like a bitter old man! With all the mistakes he makes on borders, insurgents and so on, it sound lik McCain may be in the early stages of alzheimers.

    July 27, 2008 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  22. David, Mississipi

    Senator Obama, what are the CONDITIONS under which you believe the US should withdraw from Iraq?

    you should give a little more credit to the people.

    we can take it as long as you're honest and straight with us.

    NEVER UNDERESTIMATE the intelligence and courage of the people,

    including the iraqi people.

    it's more than clear to both peoples, american and iraqi, that

    the gap between what the neo-cons want and what overwhelming majority of both peoples want

    is insurmountable and irreconcilable.

    stand with the people if you have courage and integrity.

    July 27, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  23. Ariel

    McCain says that Obama would choose the path of retreat and failure? Is this in reference to the war in Iraq? The war in Iraq was a horrible mistake. Look where we are now. Higher gasoline prices than every before, oil companies making ridiculous profits, the Taliban are back in action in Afghanistan and we don't have enough troops to do what truly needs to be done there, the youth around the world are disgusted by the war and more Anti-American terrorists are being created with every civilian death we cause. The war is a failure and I lose a little respect for John McCain each time he defends it. Even the Iraqis are agreeable with Obama's plans, as reported by CNN. McCain needs to tap into the pulse of America, which is that we want this war to end and we want the respect and love of the international community back.

    July 27, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  24. High School Students for Obama

    Hagel is right – judgment is more important than experience. Obama will win with a landslide victory and this country will be back on the path it was 7 and 1/2 years ago.
    Obama/Clinton (I hope) '08 !!!!

    July 27, 2008 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  25. rick, salt lake city

    I still haven't herd McCain define victory in Iraq, or his plan for victory, all he does is criticize Obama for his stance on the surge. Why doesn't the press ask him about his definition of victory, and what he plans to do to achieve victory? Remember he is the one saying he won wars and knows how to win wars, where is the evidance of these claims.

    July 27, 2008 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
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