While Chuck Hagel has been contemplating whether to seek the presidency, 18 other politicians started running.Could waiting pay off at this point? Vilsack just dropped out of the race due to money issues. Romney already seems to be losing his luster among the conservatives he is so actively courting. Would jumping in this early help Hagel? I know some in the draft Hagel movement have been getting impatient in waiting for him to announce his intentions, but there are opportunities and challenges for both a sooner or a later announcement.
Two opted out of the race.
Two launched campaign efforts, then quit.
Still, Hagel ponders.
Political analysts say the delay could hurt - or help.
Hagel's views on the Iraq war - he supports beginning to withdraw U.S. forces this year - puts him in line with 66 percent of Americans who, polls show, oppose the war. That could be potent fuel for a campaign, Reed said.
"He'll have a lone voice on a hot issue, and that'll be the strategy," Reed said.
Hagel has waited so long now, he's reaching a point where it might make sense to hold off, perhaps until fall, said Chuck Todd, editor of the Hotline, an electronic newsletter that tracks American politics.
That would let the other candidates spend their money, knock one another around and, perhaps, wear out their welcome, Todd suggested.
"If he waits, he becomes the new flavor."
Hagel seems to be genuinely wrestling with the decision.
Those who have spoken with him say a big concern is the potential impact a presidential campaign would have on his wife, Lilibet, and their two teenage children.
He's working through other issues, too, such as weighing his ability to raise enough money for a campaign. He says he has been encouraged by what he's heard so far.
He said he won't run unless he's confident he could win, but it's even more important to him that he feels passionately about the race.
"You have to believe in something strongly enough to commit yourself to it," he said.
What do you think?