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. Rob indetroit

    Judgment is more important than experiance John MCbush flip flops half the time, and doesn't know what he's talking about the rest of the time.

    July 27, 2008 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |

    what experience is mc cain talking about ? give me abreak.no republican president that did handle presidency very well.they do made mistakes.we have seen obama with ten world leaders and discussed worldly issues what an experiance?

    July 27, 2008 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  3. Shirley-Ohio

    Obama may the correct judgement of opposing the war and had they listened, they would not be having discussions about this so called surged. 4000 mens and women died for a lie and this is wrong. McCain would rather starts wars and never stop fighting. This about your children and grandchildren, at least Obama is willing to talk about it first.

    July 27, 2008 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  4. Retired Veteran from New York City

    I agreed with Senator Hagel and Senator Reed. Should America gets to choose between Experience and judgment, I believe in my view that judgement should prevail.

    Take it from Dick Cheney and Rumsfeld, no one in Washington has more experience than these two guys. Well, look what they done to America. The whole administration is full of well qualified people, however, because of their lack of judgment, they will go down to history like the worse administration in the civilized world.

    No one never questioned the Patriotism of McCain, the honor and sacrifice that he did for this great Nation, however, his lack of judgment, his continued stance of the Surge Worked will put him at odd with the American people when comes November.

    At time, McCain seems to be a very confused individual at time with his rethoric, mabe his age and the demand of the Presidential campaign really take a toll on him. His constant Flap on Yougoslavia, Iraq-Pakistan border, Suni and Shia, the Surge, he just confused the responsibility of the Commander in Chief and the responsibility of General Patreus. America cannot afford anymore of the same.

    July 27, 2008 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  5. Joe Reg

    Obviously, Obama had demontrated the judment to start making changes from day one on the job.

    The mess that we are in now can not continue. Thing are difficult as a result of the Bush Mcain mishandling of the economy and the wars, and countless of job losses of the labor force.

    Landslide Obama 08/12.

    July 27, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  6. obama is unfit to be president of this country

    Hagen is a really stupid has been.

    July 27, 2008 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  7. Freedwoman

    "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."

    Gee, must have missed something. I thought the ad was crystal! Thats exactly what Obama did - lifted weights, according to one reporter who talked to him in the gym, preening himself like a peacock for the nightly news - while our guys are being rehabilitated and fitted with prostheses in military hospitals. I guess Obama just has to have those cameras and the limelight. Its a shame our courageous guys are fighting and getting wounds for the like of that slick hustler to make another and another and another pretty speech!

    Hagel - you should really be ashamed of yourself to be toadying and stepping/fetching for the Magnificent Obama. What has happened to you? I have no respect for you any more!! Go home and take a long vacation.

    July 27, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  8. al phillips

    To the general public. Expect a public endorsement of of Obama from Hagel this week.

    Obama / Hagel 08

    July 27, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  9. Moses, Ca.

    Looking good...President Obama.

    July 27, 2008 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  10. Marie in California

    Obama has no judgment......or character. I flat-out don't trust him.

    Was for Hillary, now for McCain!


    July 27, 2008 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  11. Daniel, VA

    Sen. Hagen, you are a moron. Tell me how can you have judgement without experience. Do not try to twsit words here. Barack has no experience and he needs to go to school. Vote John McCain. I am sure CNN will moderate and delete this message as they have done it before.

    July 27, 2008 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  12. Monica for Obama in Indiana

    Senators Hagel and Reed were very sincere and serious in their response on the show today. They also said that the ad mccain was running about Obama not seeing the troops in Germany was not accurrate and in poor taste. They also agreed that the decision Obama made about not going to see the troops with all that was going on was the right decision.

    July 27, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  13. demwit

    Oh... You mean like when choosing a pastor and church for 20 years? This that the kind of judgement your talking about??

    July 27, 2008 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |

    McCain, McCain McCain

    you are simply nothing but a baseless, desperate and distorted house rat tcomparing time to Obama went to gym to visiting wounded troops. Shame on you, because you cant go the gym yourself..........

    why dont you face the issues that matter to us than spend half of your time instilling fear into the good American people.

    McCain God forbid you are president

    "you suck" "you suck" that's the point I'm trying to make, "you suck"

    July 27, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  15. Bob

    I noticed that CNN fails to mention most of Hagel's criticism, namely that McCain was questioning Obama's patriotism and it was beneath him.

    July 27, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  16. Greg, Hamilton Ontario

    When JFK was trying to get Macnamara to join up and was being told sorry "I just don't have the experience for the job" JFK told him that "there was no manual that came with being president either"

    That's why Hillary made most people nervous. She told everone she was ready to hit the ground running and all that crap. First lady doesn't come anywhere near training for president. Nothing does.

    Then you have McCain who doesn't care what a president is suppose to do. The wise old sage that knows more than anyone else will ever know. Such arrogance is what bothers people about America. If I hear Mcoldie talking about the surge working one more time I'll throw something at the TV. 150 thousand troops and 4000 lives of Americas best thrown at one city, OF COARSE IT WORKED! WHY is Obama so wrong for not wanting to spend those young lives on an ungreatful nation for absolutely no reason? Keep in mind this is long after everything Bush told you was a lie.

    Every time you throw the experience stone at Obama or the judgement stone it leaves a mark of proof that he is the right choice, because history proves that the old way just doesn't work. The last time a US president had a positive effect on the world was with a Democratic one.

    July 27, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  17. Willow, from Iowa

    Yes, the McCain ad is more of the same old negativity that McCain has been using. McCain is twisting things, trying to make everything negative about his opponent. While his opponent is trying to continue focusing on the issues. I'm getting really tired of the McCain negativity.

    July 27, 2008 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  18. wam

    “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.”
    So Mr McCain, knowing all the falsehoods and mis-information that are now known about the invasion of Iraq, you still insist that you would do nothing different..............I wouldn't exactly call that sound "judgement".

    July 27, 2008 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  19. Eileen from Maine

    McCain is busy pushing the idea that Obama is unpatriotic because he doesn't agree the McCains positions.

    McCain is putting out distorted and untruthful ads because Obama chose not to pull the wounded troops in Germany into what would have been portrayed as a publicity stunt.

    John McCain does a terrible disservice to our men and women in uniform when he uses them to score a cheap political shot.

    I believe he has dishonored our troops, dishonored our country and is showing enormous disrespect for Americans when he falsifies issues and makes things up.

    John McCain owes an apology to every single American for his unbecoming nasty and petty behavior.

    July 27, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  20. sallu deen


    July 27, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  21. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Hagel and Reed are so correct. How can one argue that judgement is not important in our everyday lives. Do you need experience to know if you walk in front of a Big Mac truck what the results are going to be, no. But your better judgement makes you think more than once about doing it. McCain continues to use poor judgement by opening his mouth before he thinks and his own self experience of doing that hasn't taught him anything.

    July 27, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  22. Kathy

    So Hagel is NOT willing to endorse Obama? Sounds like the guy would rather remain loyal to his party that jump on board the Obama bandwagon.

    I think the add by McCain's campaign - calling out Obama for canceling his visit with the troops - is right on the money.

    This election is about the character of the man who will be our next president, and Obama's descision the CANCEL a visit with the wounded troops (a visit that HIS campaign arranged) was another example the man's lack of integrity.

    So he couldn't make it into a PHOTO OP...but Obama should have followed through with the visit anyway - without the media!

    July 27, 2008 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  23. Kansas Veteran

    Could not agree more, the abilty to listen to the experters and make a decision based upon good judgement and the facts as presented.

    Believe me when I say that a partial stint in the Texas Air National Guard is not a qualifying tour of duty, the demonstrated lack of judgement and refusal to look at facts bear me out.

    I truely believe that Obama, can lead this nation out of the mess that has been made of it by the current lack of administration.

    July 27, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  24. James from bk/LI

    i would love for Obama to pick Kathleen Sebelius as his V.P but Chuck Hagel would be a great choise too, i don't know why he is not been veted. Obama talk about working with him during the primary, talked about him in his book and this guy has a military back ground that Obama is lacking and that would show the world that Obama is willing to work with ppl from any party just to make america and the world a friendlier place. (can no man make this world safer. read the bible)

    July 27, 2008 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  25. pb

    McCain is showing his desparation by behaving like a retard. He continues to lie and does not care if you believe the lies. His mental abilities are in question. He does not have the judgement or capabilities to be president of the United States. He changes his mind and position and then acccuses Sen Obmama of being a flip flop. Americans, please look and listen to this tired man with tired ideas. He has not idea what he is talking about!. The media does not reveal his screw ups and you will not know what is going on unless you hear all of the issues and comments from each of the candidates. Please do not let the rhetoric of ruthless men who are currently in office or perceived by those in office!

    July 27, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13