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. Carole, CA

    No, it isn't.

    July 27, 2008 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  2. Susan from Scotts Valley, CA

    I agree with Hagel – they are both smart, capable, decent and both love our country. The difference is that Obama would be good for the Country and McCain would mean four more years of what we've had with President Bush.

    July 27, 2008 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  3. THE TRUTH IS!!!!!!

    Sens. Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska) and Jack Reed (D-Rhode Island) spoke to media this morning ......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. 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?”


    July 27, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  4. Rave

    Yes.. we already saw the response from entire world.
    Not only America, but the world wants Obama to be their leader.
    OBAMA (2008 -16)

    July 27, 2008 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  5. Chris Bodenner

    During the past week's debate over what should be credited for lower U.S. casualties in Iraq (the surge of 30K additional troops, the Anbar Awakening, MacFarland's clear/hold/build strategy, etc.), there was little discussion about the U.S. policy of bribing Sunni leaders to tamp down violence. I've been asking my foreign-policy friends about the current scale of such bribery and its impact on the decreased violence, but they shed little light. Among the few pundits who did broach the subject were Wes Clark and Juan Cole. The latter wrote:

    Proponents are awfully hard to pin down on what the "surge" consisted of or when it began. It seems to me to refer to the troop escalation that began in February, 2007. But now the technique of bribing Sunni Arab former insurgents to fight radical Sunni vigilantes is being rolled into the "surge" by politicians such as John McCain. But attempts to pay off the Sunnis to quiet down began months before the troop escalation and had a dramatic effect in al-Anbar Province long before any extra US troops were sent to al-Anbar (nor were very many extra troops ever sent there). I will disallow it. The "surge" is the troop escalation beginning winter of 2007. The bribing of insurgents to come into the cold could have been pursued without a significant troop escalation, and was.

    Beyond the question of how the bribery's impact could be clouding the retrospective debate over McCain's judgment on the surge, how much of a wild card will these bribes be when the U.S. pulls out of Iraq? I imagine bribes can be a smart, short-term tactic to elicit the support of undesirables. But over the long term, regular payments seem like a cure for the symptoms of unrest, not the underlying disease. If insurgents are suddenly yanked off the dole, how much will violence flare up again? And will those funds come back to bite us if they're used for weapons against our troops or allies?

    July 27, 2008 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  6. Alan

    Can someone tell the religous leaders that the church age is over ?

    July 27, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  7. Charlotte

    Did he say, flocking out of their duty positions? Isn't that a NO-NO? You can't abandon your duty station. Obama and his campaign staff organized this whole trip and I think it stinks. We, the taxpayers, paid for this campaign trip.

    July 27, 2008 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  8. 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.

    July 27, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  9. Voter

    Obama had to take some REAL men with him.

    What a COWARD! You won't catch Pretty Boy in a military uniform!

    A guy could get hurt doing that!

    July 27, 2008 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  10. CJV

    very impressive.

    July 27, 2008 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  11. Jim, Minneapolis

    Dubya Bush has ALMOST EIGHT YEARS EXPERIENCE as BEING the President, but would you vote for that meathead again? Experience means nothing. Judgement and logic and intelligence is everything. Manyu of the founding fathers of our nation were in their 30s. Obama will make better decisions. He's a brilliant person. He finished magna cum laude at Harvard. McCain finished 894 out of 899 students at Annapolis when he graduated. McCain is another buffoon. We don't need that. We can't afford that right now. Vote Obama. He's young, but that doesn't mean he isn't qualified to make brilliant decisions to bring our nation back to being a world leader. Vote Obama.

    July 27, 2008 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  12. Sean

    McCain continues to play dirty unfortunately. And I'm with Hagel...ability trumps experience in my opinion. For proof, just ask yourself this – George W. Bush has more political experience than Barack Obama, so does it follow then that Bush would be a better choice for President if he were allowed to run again?

    I didn't think so.

    July 27, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  13. Terrell D. Jackson

    Is it just me, or does it seem like McCain's campaign does nothing but wait and watch Senator Obama's every move, word, or even thought to come up with an Ad to run to the people?

    It feels like a little child running to tell on his/her sibling about EVERY LITTLE THING that he/she does!! It's as if they have nothing better to do but to run Ads on what Obama does, instead of what McCain will do if he became President!!

    I have a ton of respect for my elders, especially someone whom fights for the country we love. However, I am honestly having a hard time trying to discern which candidate is actually the elder of the other!! Which to me is very sad, considering their age difference (not intended as a knock to Senator McCain).

    July 27, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  14. Rob indetroit

    Dan , Voter get alife I bet the both of you idiots voted for Bush both times.

    July 27, 2008 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  15. Rao, IL

    DAN! McCain's initial decision in favor of the war has resulted in 4100 dead American soldiers and nearly a trillion dollars lost forever. In that vein, Obama's original opposition to the war would have saved as many lives. mcCain's good judgment..???.I'd think hard about that.

    July 27, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  16. w.l. jones

    If a person can lay brick but cannot explain how to do it could you call him an experience brick mason.no. The same go for politic if you cannot commucate your thought and ideal clearly the general population want know what you stand on anything. An experience speaker can communicate with the world in this time and age without given away our value as a world leader.

    July 27, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  17. Jonathan

    Actually Obama voted against the war before it even started. How many lives would he have saved if they'd listened to him? 😉

    In other words: those are not really arguments.

    July 27, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  18. James Sagen

    Is that a threat, "Voter"?

    Of course he took real men with him. Do you think he would take imaginary friends to the Middle East?

    Obama has stated why he never joined the military. He figured he could do good here in his own country, providing services to under privilaged people. That takes an amazing amount of courage; almost on par with joining the service.

    And to "DAN": McCain did not do this single handedly. You make it seem as though McCain is some omniscient and omnipotent being. He is a man that 'voted' for the real heroes to go and make sure the surge was working.

    Obama has judgement: He obviously knows how to look at the facts and make an informed decision; not just look at the facts and see what he wants to see. Taking Hagel and Reed was the best choice.

    I am not a fanatic, but I am proud to vote for Obama in November. I will be equally as joyous when McCain loses, and long with him a part of hatred and vitriol

    July 27, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  19. Memphis

    Obama has given the correct answers to the correct questions.
    Should we have gone to war in Iraq–No
    Should we have focused on Afghanistan–Yes
    Should we remain in Iraq–No

    Obama is 3 for 3. Mac is a big old 0 with the wrong questions and the wrong answers–until he follows Bush's lead which was finally that of Obama's. MacCheese is just an old tired joke.

    July 27, 2008 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  20. Brian

    To post made by DAN:

    How many lives has Obama 's judgement saved since he's become US senator?

    If he were president, that number would be over 4,000. The U.S would not have entered the war and none of the service men and women would have lost their lives.

    Does that answer your question.

    July 27, 2008 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  21. Justo Gonzalez

    McSame will continue to have us in Iraq fore years to come. Judgement says (as do the leaders of Iraq) that we went into the wrong place and fought a war that has NOTHING to do with teh War on Terror.

    Onlt Bush and Bush II (McSame) are the ones who want us to stay when even the leaderrs of Iraq support a phased draw down of 16 months or so. Judgement matters. Obama is right on the war, right on phased withdraw, right on a leadership that unites us to are friends rather than the old man who wants to stay for a 100 years or so.

    Our kids will appreciate being home and safe rather than in a war zone where we are doing nothing except standing between people who want to kill each other.

    Lastly, the time has come to stop putting our kids in harms way and for each of us to stop paying for the development of Iraq while their governments has BILLONS in budget surplus. Let's get home and rebuild our econmy and country. I vote to send W and McSame to Iraq for a hundred years. Get the rest of our heros home, now!!!!!

    July 27, 2008 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  22. Obama Democrat

    Dan, don't be ridiclous. Speaking about McCain's judgement with regards to saving lives. What planet have you been living on? Didn't McCain vote for a frivolous war that caused more than 4000 American lives? Oh by the way, Obama voted against that war. If people like Bush and McCain had listed to people like Obama, we could have spared 4000 American lives. McCain still hasn't admit that he was wrong in voting for a war that we should never had begun. I will trust my kids with Obama. At least he wouldn't send them to fight a war that we have no business fighting.

    July 27, 2008 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  23. Kevin in Dallas

    Judgement is more important than experience, but judgement is also a product of experience.

    July 27, 2008 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  24. Walter

    Hegel for Defense Secretary!!

    In an Obama administration, of course!

    July 27, 2008 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  25. sarah

    I personally think that all of the experience in the world won't get Mcshame elected. He is a dishonest moron, with whom I have no ounce of respect. Arizonans who have lived here for 30 years have told me that he hasn't done one thing for Arizonans, what makes you feel he will do something for the US?
    We need Obama in the office. We need change that only O can give. I rather have someone who is willing to learn on the job, than someone who follows old, failed ideas such as the ones employed by Bush.

    Go Obama.

    July 27, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
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