By most measures, Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) doesn’t seem a likely Republican to run for vice president on the Democratic ticket. A Reagan Republican through and through, he consistently receives high-marks from the NRA, opposes gay marriage, and supports drilling for oil in the arctic. So why do liberals consider Hagel the biggest fish in the pond of potential running mates? One word: Iraq.
Hagel is a Vietnam veteran who is considered one of Washington’s most adept foreign policy minds. He vaulted to prominence this past year with his constant and brutal criticism of the war in Iraq. And while he begrudgingly supported giving Bush the authority to invade Iraq, Hagel was one of the first senators—Republican or Democrat—to declare the war a lost cause, calling the American strategy “dangerously irresponsible.”
He has also provided bipartisan grist for the anti-war mill, most famously by telling Condoleezza Rice that sending more troops into Iraq was akin to sending meat into a grinder. Later, he advised colleagues who were waffling over their support of the war: “If you [want] a safe job, go sell shoes.”