Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Let’s clear a few things up:

1) Chuck Hagel stated today that he is raising money “for his Senate campaign”, and that he’ll transfer that money to a Presidential campaign whenever he wants.

2) Hagel is taking part in a forum this week made up exclusively of Presidential candidates.

3) Hagel has a new commercial, on his brand spanking new website (www.Hagel.tv or www.Hagel08.com) with the tag line "Senator Chuck Hagel - An American Leader" that is “Paid For By the Hagel For Senate Committee” – oh and did we mention that he has no opponent for that Senate race that’s a year and a half away?

So while the announcement at U.N.O. on Monday was that he’ll make up his mind in the fall, this is really no different than McCain or Rudy making a pre - announcement - announcement. He may be exploring an exploratory committee – but so what? There’s really no difference between thinking about one and starting one.

The only problem was that the forum he used and the message he gave on Monday was extremely poorly executed. He confused many supporters and outright angered much of the press who made a big deal to cover it when he gave the impression that he was going to say something worthwhile.

What he said at the "announcement" could have realistically been covered in a short press-release. If he was hoping that he’d get a little national bump by being coy, he was wrong. It was barely covered by the national press, and frankly former Senator Fred Thompson’s hint that he may run caused much more interest on Monday.

But make no mistake: Hagel’s Presidential exploratory work has begun.

It’s just too bad he just didn’t go ahead and announce it.


Eric said...

And maybe he was just trying to spare us some Pete Ricketts commercials for a few more months. We should thank him.

Anonymous said...

Being someone who has worked within media it extrememly irritates me that a man who says he represents "Nebraskans" would waste their time to tell them nothing. Hagel definitely cried wolf and both local and national media bought into it. I know this was some sort of strategic move but come on...if you're waiting until a later date to jump into the race then damnit just don't say anything at all.

OmaSteak said...

Hagel looked unprepared yesterday and sounded worse. Almost makes one think that the conference call with his "100 biggest supporters & fundraisers" let the hot air out of the balloon in a big blast. Plus his wife evidently refused to accompany him for the big event...again. Bruning can...and should...mop the floor with him next year in a primary challenge.

Anonymous said...


My initial reaction was similar to most people who listened to the presser: Ego; ambition and hubris. Hagel jumps the shark; etc.

However, now that I've had time to think this over, I am coming to a different conclusion. First, my observations:

1. Hagel appeared shaken at the microphone and definitely did not have his "A game" going.

2. I think the non-announcement was a last-minute decision based on the private conference call with the 100 top supporters. I believe that he probably had three announcements prepared (re-election; seek presidency; not seek presidency).

Look, I'm a Nebraska Democrat, but I'm willing to admit that Hagel has national standing. So, the question becomes: Why would Hagel do this at the risk of looking foolish?

Here's my two cents. I think that Hagel is playing serious hardball with the national GOP. I visited the new website (thanks for the link) and was immediately struck by the fact that his biography makes no mention that Hagel is a member of the Republican Party.

"Who cares?," you might ask. Well, I think Hagel is laying the groundwork for a third-party run. 2008 is setting up perfectly for an insurgency on the part of the classical Chamber of Commerce/Live and Let Live wing of the Republica Party.

The accelerated pace of the Republican primary battle will leave the ultimate winner in a weak and damaged state. The same may also be true of the Democratic nominee, but to a lesser extent since the Iraq war debacle is now acknowledged by an overwhelming majority of the public. This is a huge problem for the Repblicans and it is only going to get worse as the VA issues deepen.

The weakened state of the parties' de facto nominees will create a powerful vacuum. Remember, Ross Perot received 19% of the vote in 1992 against an incumbent President (who had actually won a war) and a southern newcomer who did not enter the race until September of 1991. In addition, although entertaining, Mr. Perot himself came across as half-crazy and STILL captured enough votes to swing the election to President Clinton.

So, what's the hardball game? I think that Hagel is telling the Republicans that he is willing to burn down the GOP's 2008 hopes as an Independent. The message is that he'll blow it up unless the Republicans get their act together vis a vis the Middle East.

He's too savvy a politician to risk looking as bad as he did yesterday for nothing.

In conclusion, where are we at? First, by not ruling out a re-election campaign, he has iced both the Democrats and the Repblicans who might like to ramp up a campaig for a vacancy would have been created by a definitive announcement. Second, he has served notice to the national Republican Party that he is willing to press the detanator on their 2008 White House ambitions.

Hagel is not lowering the stakes. He is raising them.

Wake up, people!

One Out In The Third said...

My two cents...Hagel held out for a flood of support and it didn't come. He has caved in to illegal immigration...sounds like a 60's draft dodger and can't accept that fact that his stock has diminished. It's gut-check time for Chuck and he is in denial. I thought he might be holding out for the VP nod...but I don't think that will happen either. If he chooses to go independent he will still lose. He just doesn't get it.

Re: his press conference...it was a bad Seinfeld episode...nothing abut nothing.

Street Sweeper said...

The "Seinfeld" line was used by Dana Bash on CNN. We may post a "top comments" from the various pundits on this.

mom at home said...

Ease up a bit, people. My opinion is that his speech changed from Sunday night to Monday morning.

Many things lead me to this conclusion:
-His physical appearance
-His comments from the stage
to John Y.
-The appearance and nervousness
of his staff on Monday
-The fact that he brought CNN
to Omaha for the weekend
Hagel may be a lot of things, but he is no fool and he is not about wasting time. He is wise enough to know that wasting the national media's time is no way to make friends in high places.

I think that Hagel's wife and children may have played a bigger role in his decision making than anyone ever gave Chuck the credit for.

He definitley gets high marks in my book for sparing them another 6 months of media scrutiny about what they look like and how their grades are.

As far as 6 months less of Senate commercials-AMEN!

SweetWillis said...

I wonder if the good Senator was annoyed by the fact that his non-announcement was trumped by Fred Thompson's non-announcement?

snowBLWR said...

Oh, for some snow and an after-hours reception for state lawmakers about now. We need another DUI by state Sen. Danielle Nantkes to break this news stalemate following the Hagel non-announcement.

ptg said...

Stick a (metaphorical) fork in him, he's done.

Anonymous said...

Electoral politics is a sea in which all citizens swim. Some swimmers who drifted by Hagel after his speech on March 12th, presume he isn't standing on anything solid because they cannot see what is hidden below his feet.

Hagel's speech accomplished several subtle but important things. Those who cannot recognize that prove the efficacy of it. After all, a strategy that is obvious isn’t a strategy.

plains drifter said...

Even Hagel fans must be wondering what's up with the man. Obviously something happened. His family didnt come to Omaha with him. His staff kept the media in the dark even on that topic. His performance on Monday was bad, his appearance worse.
Fast forward to the IAFF Presidential Forum Wednesday, the event that sparked all the speculation last week.

Hagel stood before literally thousands of union firefighters and praised the virtue of volunteer firefighters. Boos from the crowd. And he still looked like he'd been sleeping on Lee Terry's inflatable mattress.

What's his strategy, Anonymous? Looks like the John Kerry strategy to me - become the butt of late night comic jokes, run on Vietnam experience. Anyone seen Hagel in a Harley showrooom lately?

OmaSteak said...

We will see midmorning today what impact, if any, Hagel's nonannouncement had when Jon Bruning "announces" his future political plans in a news conference.

Anonymous said...

I watched Chuck Hagel's announcement live, and what struck me most was not that he didn't make a decision, but that Nebraska is fortunate to have someone who has brought forth so much substance on issues of real importance to the future of our country.

The issues he covered in his short statement were impressive - entitlement reform, healthcare reform, war, immigration, leadership - we should be so lucky to have a United States Senator who takes his job this seriously.

With the exception of Sen. Edwards (wrong party), it strikes me that Chuck Hagel is the only prominent politician who is actually talking about SOLVING problems.

And isn't that what we want? Someone who is honest about where we are, who has an idea of how to get where we need to be, and who has the guts to try to take us there?

I'm glad Hagel stood up there and was honest and real, and took the tough questions - even if he wasn't playing by the unspoken rules of the media or Washington.

One Out In The Third said...

Seems Chuck doesn't quite grasp what the IAFF is all about.

Who writes his speeches???