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. Connie

    Go Barack! McCain, you are SUCH old news.

    July 27, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  2. aaaa

    people want to come back home live with their family. Mcwar wants them to stay another 100 years. mcwar please please go home!!!!!!!!!!!

    July 27, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  3. judyc

    Oh, gawd! It will be so nice to have a president with an IQ above 60.

    Obama '08

    July 27, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  4. Mauri

    I, for one, would like to hear Senator Hagel explain how one can attain good judgment as President without experience dealing with similar problems required of that office. Perhaps he figures that Obama's tour will give him that experience, but again reading flowery speeches is perhaps the least kind of experience required. To date, several examples of his judgment are not that impressive, especially his church of choice and his continuing to deny the success of the surge.
    I'm sure this man means well, but how does he know what he's "getting into" with so little experience. I think we should just look at former presidents we've elected to get the answers to these questions.

    July 27, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  5. Megan

    Why is McCain such a rotten old fogie? It kills me when he accuses Obama of wanting to take the high road with the Iraq war. I donot count staying in a country because we messed up until god knows when to save face as being a victory. The more of our troops killed does NOT make a victory. Pulling out of Iraq does not count as failure. Its logical to bring our family and friends home if them being there is NOT WORKING! Let the Iraqis fix it. We got rid of Saddam for them so we should allow them to rebuild their country the way they want it.

    July 27, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  6. smile :-)

    someone posted the correct definition of surge:
    but for mc c it is easier to say surge than spell out those other words without his teleprompter.....hehe

    July 27, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  7. Sherry, Atlanta

    Judgement should have been, NO WAR IN IRAQ. America has a voluntary Military, the 'Draft' no longer exist. We did not have Troops necessary to engage in 2 WARS. What about this does Senator McCain not understand. Is it that he's consumed with the idea of losing the conflict in Vietnam...McCain frightens the LOGIC AMERICANS.

    July 27, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  8. 2Nurselady

    I haven't been on the CNN website for several weeks because of the bias here. And, apparently it is still happening. What happened to my post about "judgment and experience" and how Barack Obama cannot even come close to that which Hillary Clinton has to offer us?

    I hope the Delegates change their votes to Hillary Clinton on the Convention floor. THEY ARE ALLOWED TO AT ANY TIME – EVEN ON THE DAY OF THE CONVENTION ON THE CONVENTION FLOOR- right then and there.

    I hope they do. We have so much to lose in this election and we have two candidates, neither of which can do the kind of job Hillary Clinton can do for us. I hope people come to their senses!

    July 27, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  9. nganenu

    I do really admire these two gentle senators who accompanied the DA. What metters is judgment and the people you pick to help you accomplish your duty. Bush were surrounded by experienced people like Rumsfeld and Cheney and with what results: More than 4000 American lives, billions of lost money, a damaged reputation. Can Obama team move the nation ahead? Or can Mccain do a better job than Obama? that is the kind of debates one ought to hear instead of stupid ads that translate a quick temper that is that basic character of this former military man.
    May God save America from another bad pick for presidency. I know Obama will do it and his trip oversea has clearly shown it.

    July 27, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  10. ThePhoenix

    Mr.Obama does not seem to have the qualities of someone who is DIPLOMATIC. I would think someone who is DIPLOMATIC would listen to all sides of a debate before coming to a conclusion. As Mr.Obama demonstrated before going to Iraq-he already had his mind made up,so what was the point in the trip. Part of someone who is DIPLOMATIC is to be open to criticism. It does not seem to me that Mr.Obama exihibits Good Judgement or is very Diplomatic. I was hopefully Mr.Obama might learn a thing or two....but before one can learn, one must be open to the fact that one does not have all the awnsers.

    July 27, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  11. Glad to be Independent

    Hagel and Reed said what many of us said. You can someone that is experienced but judgment is very wrong. A McCain administration would leave the U.S. isolated. He does not emphasize U.S. partnership with the world. McCain may have a slightly different policy than Bush but it is still a GO IT ALONE policy. There are too many issues that U.S. needs cooperation with our allies. If not, then the U.S. taxpayers will be paying a huge price paying for the wars McCain will have us in. It is time that the U.S. work with our allies to in the U.N. and NATO to share the burden. The cost savings the U.S. can get from cooperation can be used to help the U.S. economy.

    July 27, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  12. Godson

    I wonder why people can't think for themselves, what does experience mean? experienced in what? there are experienced criminals, experienced murderers, and so many experience in the wrong stuff, McCain is well experienced. he cheated on his first wife, and was so good at it that uptill today, she is still in the dark, Cindy too is experinced in husband snatching.
    Let's give them the credit they deserve. EXPERIENCE COUNTS

    July 27, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  13. Eddie

    I agree with Senator Hagel.

    Coach John Wooden from UCLA used to put it this way: "Experience is good, but young talent that is more talented than experience is better."

    July 27, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  14. Jay Jay - Informed Voter

    It is apparent McCain doesn't know what he is talking about. You see....

    JUDGMENT trumps experience

    July 27, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  15. Ben

    Obama might get more Republicans vote than McCain.

    July 27, 2008 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  16. Enrique

    The desperation of McCain and his campaign is laughable. No matter what McCain says or does, the truth is that he has been an ardent supporter of this Iraq war that Bush and Cheney misled us into. Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11 and did not posses WMD. McCain has been a willing accomplice of this lie that we are now all paying for in the form of a deep economic recession.

    July 27, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  17. Dems 4 McCain

    Judgement – I guess that's what Obama calls opposing the surge before it worked.

    And AFTER it worked. He won't even admit he was wrong about it. That's the difference between Obama and McCain. McCain doesn't have an ego the size of a football field and can admit when he is wrong.

    That's why Obama will give his acceptance speech from a football field.

    July 27, 2008 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  18. Anna

    I am pleased with everything in this article but one mention.
    Senator Obama should have stopped to visit the living testament of the Wrong War, our wounded soldiers.
    It is not the best situation to cite 'how would it look to voters back home' if I did this???
    He should have just panned the cameras and did it.

    I am sorry he did not.

    July 27, 2008 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  19. Hans-Erik Iken

    Hagel (a very experienced man in Washington) agrees that experience is not the deciding factor. Nice to hear from a republican.

    I guess McCain is chewing on the carpet when he reads that.

    July 27, 2008 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  20. Moses, Ca.

    If the McCain's media stop covering for him and ask him about his judgement in the begining before the War and make him say it, he will stop trying to get Obama to say what he wants him to say...

    July 27, 2008 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  21. Phil, FL

    Barack Obama has the judgement – no more wars. No more warmongers.

    I'm very proud of Barack Obama – and so are most people I talk to. We finally have hope. Something we haven't had the last 8 years and something we do NOT feel with McBush.

    July 27, 2008 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  22. Jayson

    If judgement is more important then I guess Obama is in trouble since he plans to go forward for his plan of withdrawing in 16 months no matter what the military commanders have to say. Which is particularly funny seeing as this is the same type of reasoning that finally got Rumsfield kicked out. We don't need another commander in chief who thinks he knows everything and thinks that a bunch of retired military leaders who are sucking up to him and telling him what he wants to hear know the situation better then the guys who are actually there.

    July 27, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  23. Freddy

    If BO did visit the troops McCain would accuse him of using the men and women in uniform as a propaganda for his campaign...now for reason unknown he canceled the trip now he is being accused of not visiting the troops. Any move, any word of BO is being scrutinized by Sen. McCain. Even his speech, the surge....as an experience person watching Gorilla warfare BO was right by saying that the surch will not work, why? Even with 200,000 troops the surge would not work if you are fighting Gorilla's, the US commanders call them insurgents. 130,000 troops are fighting 20,000 insurgents for over 5 years with no end in sight... tell me anywhere in the world were the Gorilla's lose a battle. Etiopia, no, Eritrea, no, Cuba, no, Somailia, no, Lebanon, no, Iraq for over 5 years no, the Russians against the Taliban, no....the reason it appears that the surge has worked is because coincidentally we had the Sunny awakening, together with the ceasefire (still in effect) of AlSadr militia army. So, Barack was right, it is not the surge that cause the violence to go down, it was the reason given above. But McCain is taking the credit....He has military experience my nose, even with 200,000troops and no Sunny awakening and the Sadr army still fighting...we would have more troops casualties because of the surge.
    I rest my case....

    July 27, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  24. Ron Nebraska

    Chuck Hagel is a good man. I suppose the republicans should now try to discredit his purple hearts and military service.

    July 27, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  25. Jack

    Hagel probably won't endorse Obama, either out of respect for McCain or due to his disagreements with Obama on some social issues, but he has done quite a bit for Obama by providing a very credible voice in support of Obama's foreign policy positions. McCain may have a lot of experience on foreign policy, but Hagel and others feel (rightly in my opinion) that this does not always translate to making the right decisions.

    July 27, 2008 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
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