Hagel joked during the interview about teaming up with New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, a moderate Republican, and also floated the possibility of joining a bipartisan unity ticket with a Democrat -- with his name first, of course.This little detail is telling.
Hagel clearly admires Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and calls him "a star," but he doubts the two could ever team up given the vast difference in their parties' principles. "I don't know if it gets to that point, but there is a shift going on out there, and there's nothing like a war that does that," Hagel said.
Hagel is a loner in the Senate, a serious and somewhat distant colleague who eschews consultants and other trappings of political ambition -- although he is a regular on political talk shows.He is a loner, but he sure likes to go on the talk shows. And that is just what he is - a creature of the media. Otherwise, the only people out there who would provide a base of support for a Hagel candidacy are antiwar activists disappointed in the Democrats.
Hagel attracted the support of only 1 percent of registered Republicans in recent polls, compared with 25 to 30 percent for McCain. And his standing among conservative party faithful who will determine the outcome of the Republican presidential nomination remains strikingly low because of the intensity of his attacks on Bush. But Hagel has gained a particular following within the antiwar community. An Internet "draft Hagel" movement has formed, and even die-hard liberals admit they find him appealing.Just not the base likely to show up in Republican primaries.
"Chuck Hagel for president! If it ever narrows down to a choice between him and some Democratic hack who hasn't the guts to fundamentally challenge the president on Iraq, then the conservative Republican from Nebraska will have my vote," said an Internet article last week by Robert Scheer, co-author of the book "The Five Biggest Lies Bush Told Us About Iraq."