After months of speculation that he might run for President, Nebraska’s Chuck Hagel is calling it quits:
WASHINGTON – Chuck Hagel will announce Monday that he is retiring from the U.S. Senate and will not run for president next year, people close to the Nebraska Republican said Friday.
Hagel plans to announce that “he will not run for re-election and that he does not intend to be a candidate for any office in 2008,” said one person, who asked not to be named.
He has become a leading Senate voice on foreign policy, promoting a pragmatic approach of reaching out to allies and adversaries alike to build economic, social and political relationships.
A decorated Vietnam combat veteran, Hagel drew the most attention for his break with the Republican president on Iraq.
Early this year, his frustration erupted after Bush announced plans for a troop buildup to try to curb violence in Iraq. Hagel labeled it “the worst foreign policy blunder since Vietnam – if it’s carried out.”
That and other criticism triggered a backlash from some conservatives, who viewed him as disloyal to the Republican president and potentially jeopardizing troops abroad.
Hagel didn’t relish the attacks. He explained how Vietnam had a big impact on his view of this war. He recalled Congress’ silence during much of Vietnam, as well as the 58,000 Americans who died. He said he didn’t want that history to repeat itself.
“I’ll be damned if I’m going to stand there and accept the status quo and let it all happen again,” he said.
But that, apparently, is exactly what he’s going to do. When he didn’t announce in the Spring, I didn’t think Chuck Hagel had the fire in the belly you needed to run for President. Apparently, I was right.