UPDATE: Jan 28th– see below
C-Span interviewed Republican Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) this past weekend on Newsmakers and Hagel did not hide from the idea that he could run as an Independent.
What does it do if he enters as an “I”? Will there be a Perot-effect?
Sticking by his anti-war stance, he made some strong statements today against the Bush Iraq plan at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:
We better be damn sure we know what we’re doing, all of us, before we put 22,000 more Americans into that grinder.
It seems that Hagel has been planning this for an extended period of time positioning himself for an Independent bid for the White House.
UPDATE: JAN 28TH
Excellent piece today in Newsweek on Hagel and the possibility of him running in ’08. He clearly dismisses the idea of running as an independent:
Hagel’s speech at the Foreign Relations Committee last week earned him new fans on the left, some of whom are hoping he’ll run for the White House as an independent—a notion he dismisses as ludicrous. He chafes when it’s suggested he could run as an “antiwar candidate,” and thinks he’s earned the right to define himself. “I’ve always said you’d better listen to the guys who’ve had the experience of having to actually carry the rifle,” he says, “and see the tragedy of war … Down in the mud, having to face the fact his buddy’s brains are next to him because his head’s been shot off.” Hagel speaks these words with sadness. He walks the halls of the Senate with a gray melancholy that makes some who know him wonder if he has the fight in him for a long-shot presidential run. But Hagel is an old soldier who has fought without question before. The wound on his face was born in a flash of fire.
One other quote, which I think embodies why a lot of us on the progressive side of the aisle would like to see Hagel run:
That intensity was on display last Wednesday as he sat and stewed at a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The panel was considering a resolution condemning President Bush’s proposal to send 21,000 additional troops to Iraq; Hagel, a cosponsor of the resolution, would be the only Republican on the committee to vote for its passage. As he listened to his colleagues make their cases for and against the president’s plan, Hagel told NEWSWEEK he noticed something missing: an acknowledgment that the Senate was talking about committing real troops, the men and women whose “fighting and dying” make a war. He had no prepared text but the words came easily as he took his turn at the mike. Calling Iraq the country’s most divisive issue since Vietnam, he dared his fellow committee members to take a stand. “I think all 100 senators ought to be on the line on this,” he said. “If you wanted a safe job, go sell shoes.” For a moment, his colleagues were silent and stunned. Later that afternoon, Joe Biden, the committee’s Democratic chairman, complimented him on his performance. “I’ve rarely seen such a powerful connection between the heart and the mind,” Biden said. “That was deep in you.”