Friday, June 08, 2007

Senator Hagel: A puzzling Presidential Candidate?

Hagel Funder cancelled:

Senator Chuck Hagel, 60, the Senior Senator from Nebraska, was to be in the Chicago Loop this evening for a funder for re-election to a third Senate term. Due to weather issues between Washington, D.C. and Chicago that transpired in the last hour, the flight has been delayed and the funder cancelled.

Hagel Media Availability:

Delayed in his travel plans, but undaunted, Senator Hagel intends to keep his commitment to deliver a keynote commencement address at North Central College in Naperville tomorrow at 10:00 am in the morning. The Senator, a former newscaster, talk show host and very successful businessman, also will hold a media availability at 9:15 am. [Contact Jennifer McGuffin for more details (630) 842-8143 re the Hagel media availability].

Although Hagel voted in the Fall of 2002 for the Iraq War resolution authorizing the President to take military action, he articulated some qualifications about that vote and he has since become the most vocal Republican critic in the Senate of the Iraq War.

A Hagel Run for President?

Senator Hagel, at the moment, is running for re-election. However, he has said that he would announce, in late summer or early fall, whether he has Presidential aspirations. Also rumored is that he is considering running on a third party ticket with multi-billionaire Michael Bloomberg, the very popular Democrat turned Republican Mayor of New York City. [See here].

a Bloomberg-Hagel Ticket?

Since Bloomberg has the bucks to finance a Presidential run, it is suspected it would be a Bloomberg-Hagel ticket, with Hagel bringing foreign policy, international and Senatorial experience to the team, and both touting their “independence,” and business experience. Bloomberg, of course, would emphasize his business savvy and his proven ability to apply that savvy to government, as he has become an extremely popular mayor in a very difficult to govern City.

Hagel and Kerry:

Hagel is a man of a number of contradictions. Although he campaigned hard for his friend and fellow decorated, Vietnam War combat veteran John McCain in 1999-2000, Michael Barone and Richard Cohen [2006] report that Hagel, after Bush won the nomination, was on Bush’s short list of VP prospects. Yet Hagel is quoted by Barone/Cohen as saying of Bush’s Democratic opponent, Senator John Kerry, “He’s smart, he’s tough, he’s capable. I don’t agree with him on a lot of things, [though] I am closer to him on foreign policy questions.”

Hagel and McCain:

Senator Hagel, unlike Senator and current Presidential Candidate John McCain, supported the Bush tax cuts and he has disagreed with McCain on at least certain aspects of campaign finance reform. In 2004, Senator Hagel sponsored an earned legalization immigration bill with then Democratic Senator Tom Daschle [SD]. Yesterday, Senator Hagel joined six other Republicans [including Senator McCain] and thirty-eight Democrats in their failed effort to cut off Senate debate and advance the comprehensive Immigration Reform bill known as McCain-Kennedy, which is supported by President Bush and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid [D-NV].

Hagel: How Conservative?

Senator Hagel is said by Barone and Cohen [2006 Almanac of American Politics] to have a mostly conservative voting record in the U. S. Senate, including opposition to abortion, same sex marriage, an assault weapons ban, a ban on drilling in ANWR, the 2003 Medicare Prescription drug benefit and restrictions on missile defense. He supports both school prayer and school vouchers. [Barone-Cohen]. However, his 2004 National Journal liberal/conservative ratings are not that conservative: 62% conservative on economic issues, 60% on social issues and 51% on foreign policy. Contrast those numbers with the 2004 National Journal conservative numbers of Senator John Cornyn [R-TX], 91% on economic issues, 84% on social and 61% on foreign policy. Indeed, Hagel’s 2004 National Journal conservative ratings are pretty similar to Senator McCain’s 2004 numbers: 48%, economics, 55%, social and 49%, foreign policy.

So, in many ways, Senator Hagel is a bit of an enigma, which may be his strength and weakness. Perhaps he will clarify some aspects of the puzzle in tomorrow’s media availability at North Central College. As they say, be there or be square.
Jeff Berkowitz, Show Host/Producer of "Public Affairs," and Executive Legal Recruiter doing legal search can be reached at You may watch "Public Affairs," shows with Presidential Candidates Obama, McCain, Giuliani and Cox and many other pols at