Does this man really have a chance?
His Republican colleagues regard him warily. The White House barely speaks to him. He is reviled by his party’s conservative base.
Looks as though Sen. Chuck Hagel is on a roll.
Both parties have their Iraq war contrarians. For the Democrats, it is Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, whose steadfast support for President Bush nearly cost him his seat last year and forced him to run as an independent. The Republican version is Hagel, a career maverick from Nebraska and the only GOP senator to call for an end to the war.
Hagel’s sharp criticism of the war has placed him squarely in the mainstream of public opinion on Iraq and revived long-dormant speculation about his presidential ambitions. Hagel has been eclipsed by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), a leading contender for his party’s presidential nomination who has vigorously endorsed the president’s war policies.
But with McCain appearing increasingly isolated on the issue as public opinion has turned overwhelmingly against the war, Hagel is acting like a politician who believes his stock is climbing. In other words, he is considering a White House run.
Hagel said in a wide-ranging interview this week that he is discussing his options with his family and other confidants and will make a decision in the next six weeks.
He said one possibility is forming a presidential exploratory committee and — despite his outcast position within his party — seeking the Republican nomination. Or he may seek a third Senate term. Then again, he might take a more creative path.
Let me answer the question I put to you at the outset: no, he does not. First, as the excerpt shows, he’s not taking a run seriously. He doesn’t have the infrastructure nor the fundraising prowess to make up for a late start. If he runs, it’s a vanity run.
More importantly, if the American public wants an anti-war candidate, they’ll go for the Democrat. Hagel has slightly better odds than my beagle, but only slightly…