McCain criticizes Hagel's 'worldview,' but hopes friendship still there
Sen. John McCain and then-Sen. Chuck Hagel pictured together in 2001.
January 8th, 2013
08:19 PM ET
7 years ago

McCain criticizes Hagel's 'worldview,' but hopes friendship still there

Washington (CNN) – In 2000, Chuck Hagel and John McCain were both serving as Republican senators, each with a reputation as a Vietnam War hero unafraid of bucking his own party.

That year, Hagel broke with most of his fellow GOP senators to back McCain's bid for the GOP presidential nomination, which he ultimately lost to George W. Bush. While introducing McCain's speech at the 2000 GOP convention in Philadelphia, Hagel lauded the Arizona lawmaker as "a great Republican (and) a great American leader."

In 2006, while preparing for another run for the White House, McCain told the New York Times: "I'd be honored to have Chuck with me in any capacity. He'd make a great secretary of state."

But Hagel didn't endorse McCain that time around, and now, he's preparing to become secretary of defense for President Barack Obama, McCain's 2008 opponent. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the two are no longer each other's cheerleader.

"My biggest concern is his overall attitude about the United States, our role in the world, particularly in the Middle East, and whether we should reduce the Pentagon further, but mainly, his general, overall worldview," McCain said Tuesday on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer."

Chief among McCain's concerns is Hagel's 2007 position opposing the surge of troops in Iraq, which McCain supported. McCain said Hagel told him the surge would be "the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam."

"I've never heard him contradict that statement or change his position about the surge," McCain said, labeling Hagel's description of the troop increase "a gross misconception of America's roles there and in the world."

He also took issue with votes Hagel cast in the Senate blocking a set of sanctions against Iran, which other Republicans have homed in on as Hagel prepares for confirmation hearings that are set to begin later this month.

"Basically he took a view of the Iranian threat, which I don't think has been justified by events that have followed," McCain said.

But what about the friendship forged in shared battles, both in Vietnam and on Capitol Hill?

"The friendship, I hope, is still there," McCain said. "But our views began to diverge rather dramatically about the role of the United States in the world."

"I respect, admire, and call him a friend, but I have very serious questions about whether he will serve in the way that I think serve America's best national interests," McCain added. "I want to have hearings; I would like to hear him make his case and I will reserve judgment."

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Filed under: Chuck Hagel • John McCain • TV-The Situation Room
soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. Bugl3t

    More like this is payback for A) the comment about Palin and B) support the competition... Why does anyone still listen to McCain? He proved with his selection of Palin that he will put party over country when it suits him.

    January 8, 2013 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  2. Kweso

    Time to settle old scores. McCain has Mr. Hagel in the corner for not backing him in 2008.

    January 8, 2013 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  3. VEW2012

    Other than Hagel's view were right, and McCain's were wrong..

    January 8, 2013 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  4. Nobland

    Ha! Remember McCain: "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb-bomb Iran"......... And McCain is worried about Hagel?

    January 8, 2013 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  5. DENNA

    But Hagel didn't endorse McCain that time around, and now, he's preparing to become secretary of defense for President Barack Obama, McCain's 2008 opponent. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the two are no longer each other's cheerleader.
    I vote for Hagel. John McCain is a bitter, disgusting man. The above photo makes him look like he was cut with a knife on the face. If McBitter is against Hagel, Mr. Hagel must be good.

    January 8, 2013 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  6. Thomas

    Lindsey Graham and John McCain , bring in the clowns !

    "My biggest concern is his overall attitude about the United States, our role in the world, particularly in the Middle East, and whether we should reduce the Pentagon further, but mainly, his general, overall worldview," McCain said .

    Time for John to retire !

    January 8, 2013 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  7. jane

    If McLame have a problem with Hagel....I'm for Hagel!!!!!!

    January 8, 2013 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  8. WJP

    McCain to question others view of the world ? All he is a reckless brainless loser and bully . Time for McCain to disappear into the deserts.

    January 8, 2013 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  9. Larry L

    McCain has spent the last four years bitter about losing the 2008 election. He's a pitiful relic of the man he once was.

    January 8, 2013 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  10. Dan5404

    Anyone or anything that Obama and the Democrats support is an automatic "no" to the obstructionist party. And, when one of their own former Senators gets sick of their deep turn to the right and supports Obama. there is no way they can stomach that. If they block Hagel successfully, Obama just needs to appoint a Democrat.

    January 8, 2013 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  11. Pete

    There's a difference between Hagel and McCain,Hagel truely was harmed in an explosion that put him in a burn ward for months and McCains supposid injuries were self inflected being he actually caused his jet to crash in a rice party in Vietnam..He was sent to the Hanoi Hilton as a prisoner with special allowances when they found out his father was admiral of the naval fleet,he was their bargaining chip and McCain knew it..He also cost us billions as senator in the S&L scandal the Keating 5 that he walked away from turning states evidence against his other senatorial collegues,Charles Keating served jail time but McCain who proffited from the scam with his wife Cindy never did a day behind bars..Theres a big difference and believe me McCain the Saigon Songbird shouldn't be anyone's hero,he sure isn't mine and ask his fellow prisoners in Vietnam because they'll tell you the same!!

    January 8, 2013 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  12. Tampa Tim

    I really doubt that Hagel will hold McCains' acts of dementia against him.

    January 8, 2013 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  13. Randy, San Francisco

    The GOP/Tea Party is getting ready to "swift boat" Hagel. Don't be surprised if there is a campaign to dishonor his Vietnam war service record.

    January 8, 2013 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  14. Name lynn

    mccain pick a lady for his vice president an she couldnt talk or think right just like mccain how can he talk about someone else

    January 8, 2013 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  15. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I wonder what it would take for McCain to vote for Hagel for Sec of Defense.

    January 8, 2013 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  16. plain&simple

    McCain picked Palin for the second most powerful job in the world and he questions Hagel on his world view? How exactly does that make sense to anyone? Please stop making up stories only a Hollywood producer would consider for a fictional movie.....Really!!!! I would say a comedy,but It's much to tragic and sad.

    January 8, 2013 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  17. Squigman

    He has to be the right man for the job. He's got too many back stabbing republican enemies, not to be the right man.

    January 8, 2013 10:36 pm at 10:36 pm |
  18. Steve

    Sit down an Shut-up McCain...You need to retire ole man...

    January 8, 2013 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  19. anonoymous

    Poor McCain still bitter after his 2008 lost...doesnt he realize the american people really doesnt value his opinion that's why we didnt pick him?

    January 8, 2013 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  20. J.V.Hodgson

    The international standing and policy of the US government is not determined solely by its military prowess.
    US policy is largely a state department issue and national security debate. Also the decision to go to war will not be just on Hagel or any other Secretary of Defense. The constitution requires the Presidents approval and then that of a 2/3rds majority of the Senate.
    Furthermore we spend more than the next 15-17 nations on defense. It can and needs to be reduced. Senator Mc cain and colleagues should face reality. if a spending and revenues and budget deficit deal is not struck then over $500bn will be cut from defense. Sequestration??
    The role of the Senate committe is advise and consent not in advance almost rejection. The reasons being put forward for rejection are political ideology and nothing to do with his competency for the job.
    One day I am going to wake up and then have a heart attack because I will be so shocked that republicans will have unequivocally agreed with something/ anything Obama wants to do.

    January 8, 2013 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  21. My bum hurts sitting for so long waiting for something to happen

    Senator McWarMonger just can't keep his big mouth shut.

    January 8, 2013 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  22. Just a thought

    One has to feel sorry for Mc-Walking Cain....The dude is angry, bitter about being an eternal loser. But he's in good company. That's synonymous with the entire GOP/Tea-hadist group creating a stench in Washington every single day. What else might we expect from them? ummm....Buehler, Buehler, anyone, anyone??? LOL

    January 8, 2013 11:57 pm at 11:57 pm |
  23. Debbie

    McCain used to be a man of's so sad to watch him clamor for attention these days. I hope he soon retires to Sedona.

    January 9, 2013 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  24. aaron

    Nothing worked in Iraq except for the withdrawal of American troops. Nothing in Hagel's statements for him to take back. With friends like McCain, Hagel definitely doesn't need enemies.

    January 9, 2013 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  25. Quixote

    Given the very bizarre, detached from reality worldview of mckane, that is pretty high praise for Hagel. It is like all these bush administration neo cons coming out against Hagel. Ther can be no better endorsement, except if God almighty parted the sky and rcommended him personally. Having the architects of the bush war strategy crticize you is like having Carrot top and pauly shore come out and criticize a comedian.

    January 9, 2013 05:31 am at 5:31 am |
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