Wednesday, July 25, 2007

New York Times - "Seeking a G.O.P. Opening on the War"

The New York Times had a good piece last week that had some particularly interesting things to say.

So with the Republican presidential field turned upside down, and a wide-open battle for the party’s nomination unfolding over the next six months, could there suddenly be room for a candidate who opposes the administration’s war policy?

That’s what Senator Chuck Hagel is trying to conclude.

Mr. Hagel, a Nebraska Republican, has long been among the loudest Iraq critics in his party, a position that he said was “very, very lonely over the last four years.” His conservative voting record has been overshadowed, in the eyes of many faithful Republicans, by his forceful criticism of how Mr. Bush has handled the war.

These days, Mr. Hagel is no longer feeling so alone.

As he walked across the Capitol, one day after the latest chapter of the Senate war debate ended, he said he is receiving fresh encouragement to consider a presidential candidacy. He intends to study the landscape and disclose his intentions “in the next few weeks.”

“There is no Republican presidential candidate with this point of view. There might be an opening for me on this,” Mr. Hagel said. “I’ve had three very significant Republican fundraisers come to me this week, all of whom said I should look at running.”

He declined to name the fundraisers, only saying: “They are three Bush people, not committed to any candidate yet. You would recognize two of the names, clearly.” With a smile, he added, “Of course I’d need more than three.”

Mr. Hagel conceded being stung by the negative reaction to a March 12 news conference in Omaha, when he announced – after significant fanfare – that he had made no decisions about his future. Since then, even during the war debate, he has maintained a decidedly lower profile as he contemplates whether to seek re-election, run for president or step away from public office.

“I think people have enough regard for me to know that I’m not a flake, that I’m a serious leader,” Mr. Hagel said. “Whether you agree with me or not – or whether you think I’d have a chance or not, that’s a different thing. But I don’t think anyone would doubt my sincerity to do a good job and do it right.”


One day earlier, the senator called a town meeting in Nebraska to share his views on Iraq. A crowd of 300 people gathered. “I expected I was going to get roughed up pretty good,” he said. “But there was an overwhelming response toward me.”

That doesn’t mean, of course, that the hate mail to his Senate office has entirely stopped. (It hasn’t.) And it doesn’t mean that Republican primary voters are ready for a candidate like him. (Even if he could raise the money, he concedes, it may not be.)

But it does provide him enough of a reason to not foreclose the idea entirely.

“It’s not a no. I have not said no,” Mr. Hagel said...“I don’t want to make a decision in the flurry of all this, the intensity of all this. Next month when we get a little break, I’ve got to sort it out. I’ve got to make a decision and I will.”

The article gives us a new idea about his decision timetable, something I haven't heard anything about in a while.

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