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Chuck Hagel says John McCain is 'treading on some very thin ground'

You'd expect Democrats to vociferously attack John McCain's new advertisement that criticizes Barack Obama for canceling a visit with wounded U.S. troops at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. But a Republican?

Granted, the Republican was Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, whose reputation as a party maverick now outshines McCain's -- and who has even been mentioned as a possible running mate for Obama. (That's on the Democratic ticket, mind you.)

But he still is officially a member of McCain's political party -- and a longstanding McCain pal, to boot.

Hagel says McCain 'is treading on some very thin ground here.' Hagel, along with Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), accompanied the Democrats' presumed nominee on a six-day fact-finding visit to Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait and Jordan that ended early last week.

Hagel and Reed returned to the United States from Jordan, while Obama continued on to Israel, Germany, France and Britain.

"At that point, it was a political trip for Sen. Obama," Hagel said Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation." "I think it would have been inappropriate for him -- and certainly he would have been criticized by the McCain people and the press and, probably should have been -- if, on a political trip in Europe, paid for by political funds, not the taxpayers, to go essentially then and be accused of using our wounded men and women as props for his campaign."

Hagel also lit in to McCain for, as host Bob Schieffer put it, stating that Obama's views on Iraq were based on political expediency, "that he chose -- and these are Sen. McCain's words -- 'a political path that would get him the nomination.' "

"I think John is treading on some very thin ground here when he impugns motives, and when we start to get into 'You're less patriotic than me, I'm more patriotic,' " Hagel replied, adding: "John's better than that." See video below.

Hagel did say that he and McCain have a good relationship and speak often. And as recently as July 16, during a campaign swing through Hagel's home state, McCain described his fellow Vietnam veteran as "a very dear and close friend of mine, and I cherish his friendship and have for many, many years."

But with friends like these ...

-- Leslie Hoffecker

Photo credit: Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (12)

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On the contrary, Hagel is being a good friend. McCain has lost his moorings. It now appears that he will say just about anything and change any position to get elected. He is a major embarrassment to himself. On a list of a (baker's) dozen reasons why he will not win, #7:

7. The Not So Straight-talk Factor: McCain has built his reputation on being a man of principle. This has two features: he believes in something and he sticks with what he believes in. McCain has recently begun to backpedal on principles and commitments. He is vulnerable to being viewed as a flip-flopper, if not dishonest, which will undermine his hitherto greatest strength.

“A Dozen Reasons Why McCain Won’t Win: Money-Back Guarantee”

Why is it that everyone is failing to mention that the reason he canceled his trip was because he was ordered to do so by the pentagon.

Chuck and John are good friends,; I respect them both.

To address the recent trip of Sen Obama, purely political. His greatest weakness could only be covered up by news coverage.

Sen McCain has never been covered like Sen Obama. Is this because he goes for work as a Senator?

McCain is the ultimate flip-flop hypocrite now...

First he bashes Obama for not going to Iraq and Afghanistan. So, when Obama does go, McCain turns around and bashes him for not paying attention to the election at home.

Get real!!! WTF!!!

You can't have it both ways... McCain is losing more and more of his credibility every time he opens his mouth... In fact, this is more than just a loss of credibility, it's a demonstration of the lack of competence and ability he is suffering. Can we really trust the judgement of someone who is 71 years old who is acting like this? Can we trust someone like this with access to the Button?

No, we can't. McCain is clearly incompetent and desperate to try and make himself look like he isn't, and so he's saying and doing anything he can think of, and all it's doing revealing the truth about his capability.

The polls are wrong. Obama is behind McCain by 30 percentage points in most polls. Obama is losing badly and the Democrats are frantic. They have begun an all out propaganda campaiign in order to create the illusion that a one term senator from Illinois is capable of running the entire country.

This is very embarrassing for Democrats. I for one am ashamed to admit being a democrat this year.

I think Mr. Hegal means to say "treading on thin ice," not "ground."

I'm not sure what "thin ground" is or what happens to it when treaded upon. But I sense that Mr. Obama simply believed that wounded troops have insufficient video equipment to preserve his every historic move.

Patriotism has nothing to do with it. Demonstrating gratitude, in person, to soldiers who volunteered to serve and suffered because of it, is simply something that a man of noble character would have done.

If I hear the flip-flop argument come out of anyone's line of thinking, I am going to switch parties instantaneously.

For my money, Sen. Mc Cain has flipped on enough issues I thought were important, from not talking to Neoconservatives, to letting them run his show for hm. From standing against torture (a signature item if EVER such a thing existed, to embracing it as good sound policy), and basically admitting he's not all that bright when it comes to economics.

I'm not sure I want to even find out what the increasing pressure over the next 90 days is going to bring.

McCain has shown he will do anything to get into office, including lie and distort. He has adopted the Republican slime tactics of Karl Rove, proving he is unfit for the Presidency.

I have alot of respect for Senator John McCain and don't think he would be a bad President at all. However, his characterization of Senator Obama's deision not to visit the wounded troops in Germany was off the mark, over the top and uncalled for.

Sen McCain is just proving how dumb he is ... did he not notice that this assaultive peevish mefirst mebest kind of campaigning did not work in the primary? What world is this guy living in? He's bragging and strutting and just pretending ... didja see Stephanopoulus with him this a.m. ... McCain's hostility was so close to the surface that it just didn't go well with his frigid false smile ... he was sure putting George in his place ... cold and stupid ... if I were a Republican I'd be really depressed this year. Or else I'd remember that Abraham was a Republican and right now B. Obama is the closest thing to Lincoln we'll ever see ...

Why is it that everyone is failing to mention that the reason he canceled his trip was because he was ordered to do so by the pentagon.

Posted by: George | July 27, 2008 at 12:56 PM

George....Obama was not ordered to cancel seeing the troops by the Pentagon. He was told by the Pentagon that he could not bring his staff and camera crew so OBAMA decided not to go. Wantabe Commander and Chief who could not make time to see OUR injured troops in Germany. To me that is just a showing of bad judgment and poor character. Remember troops - unless for a photo-op Senator Obama does not have time for you.

I predict that Sen Hagel will be the shocking choice of Obama for VP!!


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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