Saturday, March 31, 2007

Campus Coordinators

We are taking the Draft Hagel movement to colleges and universities around the nation.

We are recruiting Campus Coordinators to take the lead in organizing the grassroots movement on campuses across the country. If you are a college student interested in helping with the Draft Hagel movement on your campus, please let us know (email me or post a comment).

Today we are happy to announce the first of the new Campus Coordinators.

Steven Place at Catholic University (Washington D.C.)

John McNamara
at Hillsdale College (Michigan)

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Is Hagel a "Conservative Turned Liberal?"

Here's a comment I got via e-mail on my Michigan for Hagel blog from Mike earlier today:

I'm sure in the beginning Mr. Hagel was a nice man.

But come on, a candidate for REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT.

I see in many polls that Hagel hasn't even reached 1%, now boy that is funny. Sorry, but conservative, turned liberal won't make it with the middle class informed Americans.

OK - so in response to this I'd like to direct you to some statistics that Senator Hagel points out on his website:

Conservative Voting Records . . .

Senator Hagel has one of the most solid conservative voting records in the U.S. Senate. The following are his lifetime ratings from some important organizations:

Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) 94% (1997 - 2006)
U.S. Chamber of Commerce 96% (1997 - 2005)
American Conservative Union (ACU) 85.2% (1997 - 2006)
National Taxpayers Union 75% (1997 - 2005)
National Right to Life Committee 96.4% (2000 - 2006)
National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) 100% (1999-2006)
Club for Growth 99% (2005)

Hagel's Support of President Bush's Priorities in the Senate

2006 95.5% (highest of GOP Members in Senate)
2005 89%
2004 94%
2003 98%
2002 98%
2001 96%

Source: Congressional Quarterly, January 2007

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Hagel Statement on Vote Against the Budget

Hagel Statement on Vote Against the Budget

March 23rd, 2007 - WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) released the following statement today regarding his vote against the budget passed by the Senate:

“This is an irresponsible budget. It increases taxes by more than $700 billion on families and businesses over the next five years and increases the debt by $2.4 trillion over the next five years. The federal government’s problem is not that it has too little money, but that it spends too much money. This budget would put America in a deeper financial hole.”

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Hagel to be on This Week (ABC)

Just to let everybody know, Senator Hagel will be on This Week (on ABC) this Sunday.

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Hagel Reintroduces Bill to Aid Military Families

Hagel Reintroduces Bill to Aid Military Families

March 20th, 2007 - WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) joined Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) today in reintroducing the “Military Retiree Survivor Benefit Equity Act.” This legislation would allow qualifying surviving spouses of military service members to receive survivor annuities—without being offset—from both the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and the Department of Defense.

“America owes a great debt of gratitude to our professional service members. It is important to remember that years of devoted service also affects not only service members, but their families. This legislation will ensure that surviving military spouses are guaranteed access to the benefits that were earned and purchased by the service of their loved one,” Hagel said.

Currently, when a retired service member passes away from a service-related disability, the surviving spouse may be eligible to receive 1) Dependency and Indemnity Compensation (DIC) paid by the Department of Veterans’ Affairs and 2) Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) which is paid by the Department of Defense. Under current law, DIC payments to surviving spouses are deducted from their SBP payments. Therefore, most surviving spouses of disabled military retirees find that their DIC payments cancel out their SBP benefits. This legislation would allow surviving spouses who qualify for both to receive full DIC and SBP payments. Hagel and Bill Nelson introduced similar legislation in the 109th Congress.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Q & A Time

OK - well there seems to be a lull in postable material, so I am opening this up to a Q & A "time." Ask me what you want to know about Hagel and I will do my best to help answer it.


Hagel Praises Plan to Establish an Immigration Court in Omaha

Hagel Praises Plan to Establish an Immigration Court in Omaha

March 16th, 2007 - WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) released the following statement today regarding the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) plan to establish an Immigration Court in Omaha, Nebraska:

“This is important news for Nebraska. The establishment of this court will provide better access to due process for those who have come to the U.S. legally and improve efficiency in the enforcement of our immigration laws,” Hagel said.

Senator Hagel has strongly supported this effort and worked with the Department of Justice to help establish an immigration court in Omaha.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Editorial: Hagel Will Sell Well In the Heartland

Editorial: Hagel Will Sell Well In the Heartland

In every presidential primary, Republican or Democrat, each party's dominant wing (right for Republicans, left for Democrats) are courted heavily.

Take the Republicans. Even if the vast majority of Republican voters are not strongly conservative in the Republican primaries, those conservatives are highly prized because they always vote and are passionate enough to get others to vote.

So every Republican who wants to have a chance of victory is talking conservatives' language on social issues and foreign policy in anticipation of next year's primary contests. Even former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is trying to convince wary conservatives that his liberal advocacy on issues ranging from abortion to gun control to gay rights is behind him now.

What a relief for supporters of U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska) that their man doesn't have to try so hard to convince conservatives that he is one of them. On abortion issues, Hagel has a sterling pro-life record in the U.S. Senate. The same is true on issues involving family values like marriage to a defense of the Second Amendment.

Moreover, Hagel is a strong anti-tax Republican who wants a balanced budget. And as for his stand against some of the strategy leading up to the Iraq war and the blunders caused in it, Hagel always comes in the name of the soldiers themselves--and a more sensible, effective foreign policy to fight terrorism worldwide.

This is the kind of common-sense conservatism that appeals to both the social conservatives and the traditional, anti-tax conservatives in the Republican Party. More importantly for the GOP as it looks for a winner nationally in what will be a very close election in 2008, Hagel's common sense will resonate with the general voting public in both parties.

Rural states similar to Nebraska, like West Virginia, are as much traditional as they are conservative. Their voters want someone who understands rural issues. Given West Virginia's rise to prominence in the electoral college tally in 2000, putting George W. Bush over the top, look for candidates like Hagel to put in some time in states like West Virginia where they have natural common ground.

Hagel can do well nationally, both in the primaries and the general election, in rural states like West Virginia. Hagel's straight-talking yet always-respectful style will be appreciated here.

The American people may be ready for a "Steady Eddie," a fresh face with a solid record of achievement in the U.S. Senate, and a seasoned leader with an intimate understanding of our nation's military, foreign policy, and what makes the private sector hum. If so, the Republicans would be wise to put forward a midwestern statesman this time around for President: U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel.

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Why not Hagel or Thompson, GOP needs something new

Why not Hagel or Thompson, GOP needs something new
By E.J. Dionne Jr

WHY NOT Chuck Hagel? For that matter, why not Fred Thompson? For Republicans, 2008 promises to be a disconcerting if exciting year because for the first time since the 1964 Goldwater insurgency, the party is struggling over its philosophical direction.

The old conservatism is in crisis, Bush Republicanism (of the son's variety but not the father's) is a tainted brand, and no candidate has emerged as the Next New Thing that the party wants or needs.

That's why Hagel, the Nebraska senator and Iraq war critic, suggested Monday that he might seek the presidency.

Read the rest at...

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Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing Statement

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing Statement by U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel on the Nomination of Ambassador Zalmay Kahlizad to be the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations

March 15th, 2007 -
“Mr. Chairman, it is my privilege today to introduce Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad for a third time to this Committee. In October 2003, I introduced Ambassador Khalilzad as the President's nominee to be the U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan. In June 2005, I introduced him as the President's nominee to be the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq. Today, following his distinguished service in Kabul and Baghdad, Ambassador Khalilzad returns to this Committee as the President's nominee to be the next U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

It is not surprising that the President has chosen Ambassador Khalilzad to lead our efforts at the United Nations at this critical time. In recent years, he has filled two of the most difficult diplomatic posts in our nation's history. As Ambassador to Iraq and Afghanistan, Khalilzad served under conditions that could have easily overwhelmed even the most gifted diplomat. Instead, he has earned a reputation as an agile and credible mediator in a region complicated by tribal, religious, and sectarian divisions. His deep understanding of the Middle East has been a vital asset, and we are grateful for his service.

Though the challenges of Iraq today are daunting and its future still deeply uncertain, Ambassador Khalilzad’s tenure in Iraq was marked by important milestones. After arriving in Baghdad in June 2005, Ambassador Khalilzad led our efforts to help the fledgling Iraqi government move forward in the political reconciliation process. He was central in facilitating the tough compromises that led to the ratification of Iraq’s Constitution in October 2005 and a successful national election in December 2005. At the end of his tenure, Iraq’s Council of Ministers approved a national oil law that, if adopted by the Iraqi Council of Representatives, will play a key role for Iraq’s future. Ambassador Khalilzad’s accomplishments in Afghanistan were equally impressive. During his tenure, Afghanistan held its first national free and fair elections in the nation's history and established a new government. He led U.S. efforts to help establish Afghan security forces and oversaw U.S. reconstruction assistance, allowing the Afghan people hope for new economic opportunities.

Ambassador Khalilzad will now fill a critical role as Ambassador to the United Nations. As members of this Committee are aware, the United Nations has its limitations and is imperfect. Over the past year, some improvements, such as stronger internal oversight capacity and the establishment of a UN ethics office, have been made... but further reform is needed. Institutional reform – with the goal of making the UN more effective and credible – should be one of the top priorities of our new Ambassador. It will require building durable consensus among member states. This is difficult and takes time. But it will not be accomplished without strong, wise and respected U.S. leadership.

Ambassador Khalilzad will find a partner in this effort in the new Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, who has already signaled his commitment to greater transparency, accountability, and effectiveness at the United Nations. The world needs an effective and engaged UN today as much as any time since its creation.

I want to also recognize Ambassador Khalilzad's son, Alexander. Alexander was an intern in my office a few years ago, and now attends Stanford Law School. Ambassador Khalilzad's wife, Cheryl Benard, and their other son, Maximilian, are unfortunately not able to join us today.

Mr. Chairman, I strongly endorse Ambassador Khalilzad's nomination to be the next U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and enthusiastically recommend him to this Committee.

Thank you.”

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Wineke: Hagel would make the best president

Wineke: Hagel would make the best president

Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel may announce his candidacy for president today, and I hope he's successful.

I've pretty much come to the conclusion that Hagel is the best person to run this country for the next few years.

Read more at...

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Senator Hagel's Brother, Tom, says, "I would expect throw his hat in the ring"

Sen. Hagel’s brother: ‘It’s just a matter of time’
Tom Hagel served with his brother in Vietnam; says Chuck will likely run

Earlier Monday, Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel (R) announced that he would make a decision about his political future later in the year. Later, Tom Hagel, who served in Vietnam with his brother, told Hardball whether he thinks his brother will end up running for president.

Read more at...

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Contribute today

The new official Hagel campaign website is up and running and can accept donations on-line. The donations go to his Senate campaign war chest, which can be directly transferred to a presidential campaign fund. Let’s build some momentum and get some money into Chuck Hagel’s campaign coffers. Please donate today at , even if it is just a little (though of course more is always better). Let's show America what kind of grassroots support Senator Hagel has.

Monday, March 12, 2007

New Official Hagel Site Launched

Chuck Hagel has launched a new campaign website today,

Head over there and sign up, and perhaps even contribute. Senator Hagel left his options open today in his annoucement and said that he plans to do some fundraising, which will help should he decide to run for President or reelection to the Senate.

Hagel to focus on issues now rather than campaign

Senator Hagel DID NOT announce that he's running for President today. He said that he wants to focus on the important issues that confront the nation today without being distracted by a campaign.

However, he did keep open the option of running for President by entering the race later in the year.

Here is the text of his statement:

"America stands at an historic crossroads in its history. It is against this backdrop that I find myself at my own crossroads on my political future. Burdened by two wars, faced with dangerous new threats and global uncertainty, beset by serious long-term domestic problems and divided by raw political partisanship—America now reaches for a national consensus of purpose. America’s response to the challenges and opportunities that confront us today will define our future. Finding solutions to these challenges and capitalizing on these opportunities will not wait until the next election.

I have worked hard over the last ten years on foreign policy and national security issues, climate change and energy, education, entitlement reform, especially Social Security reform, health care, veterans benefits, GSE reform, and immigration reform. This year will be an important year for these critical issues– and I intend to offer new initiatives on each of them. I want to give these and other subjects my full attention over the next few months. I believe it is in the interests of my Nebraska constituents and this country that I continue to work full time on these challenges.

America is facing its most divisive and difficult issue since Vietnam—the war in Iraq, an issue that I have been deeply involved in. I want to keep my focus on helping find a responsible way out of this tragedy, and not divert my energy, efforts and judgment with competing political considerations.

I am here today to announce that my family and I will make a decision on my political future later this year.

In making this announcement, I believe there will still be political options open to me at a later date. But that will depend on the people of Nebraska and this country. I cannot control that and I do not worry about it. I will continue to participate in events across this country, raising money for my Political Action Committee to assist Republican candidates, and raising funds for a Senate re-election campaign.

In conclusion, I would first like to commend my colleagues who are currently seeking their Party’s presidential nomination. I admire each of them for their willingness to put themselves on the line and pursue their strong beliefs and ideals.

I believe the political currents in America are more unpredictable today than at any time in modern history. We are experiencing a political re-orientation, a redefining and moving toward a new political center of gravity. This movement is bigger than both parties. The need to solve problems and meet challenges is overtaking the ideological debates of the last three decades—as it should. America is demanding honest, competent and accountable governance.

A global political readjustment is also in play today...and will respond to America’s leadership. What is at stake for the future of America is larger than just American politics. Politics is simply the mechanism democracies use to affect responsible change. The world is not static, it is dynamic.

At the beginning of my remarks I said that America is reaching for a national consensus of purpose. We will find it because Americans expect it and will demand it. I do not believe America’s greatness is lost to the 20th Century. There are chapters of America’s greatness yet to be written. I intend to continue being part of America’s story."

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Watch Chuck Make His Announcement Live!

The Leavenworth Street blog has the details on how to catch Chuck Hagel's annoucement live on Monday:
For those of you who can’t wait for the online news updates to Chuck Hagel’s 10:00 AM CDT Monday “announcement”, three of the local Omaha TV stations will provide streaming video of the event live on their websites.
They are:

In addition, you can listen to the announcement on your computer as well
via radio stations KFAB or KKAR’s websites.


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The wait is (almost) over

Chuck Hagel will annouce his future plans on Monday morning. Now if we only knew what that was....

Hagel to Hold News Conference Regarding His Future Plans
U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel will hold a news conference Monday, March 12, 2007 at 10:00 a.m. CST. The news conference will be held in Bootstrapper Memorial Hall at the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s William H. and Dorothy Thompson Alumni Center.
You can read about it in the Omaha World-Herald as well.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Is Hagel The Credible Conservative Candidate?

Here is a GREAT article from the Cyclone Conservatives:
Is Hagel The Credible Conservative Candidate?

There seems to be a lot of media discussion lately claiming that the GOP has not yet found a top tier conservative candidate to rally around yet. Personally, I think that discussion would fold away if Newt Gingrich got into the race, but that is either unlikely to happen until this fall or not at all ever.

The candidate that everyone thought would have that mantle was George Allen from Virginia. But the now former Senator nearly completely killed his political career by making one major gaffe last summer.

Now, we've got Mayor Rudy Giuliani who seems to have a tough hawkish stance on foreign policy which many red blooded conservatives really like but he's got a plethora of social issue problems which red blooded conservatives really don't like.

John McCain actually has a pretty conservative record on social and fiscal issues, but it is his tendency towards being a maverick and his 'moderate' media created tag that has scared off many. Joining with Ted Kennedy on immigration, Russ Feingold on campaign finance reform, and leading judicially comprimising 'Gang of 14' has a lot of conservatives uneasy. However, he's also probably the toughest hawk on terrorism in the race and that is where he is gaining a lot of traction.

Mitt Romney could be the guy and then again many conservatives still don't know who he is and if the Mitt from the debate footage from 1994 and 2002 is still the Mitt of 2007. He claims that he was wrong then, but that hasn't settled a lot of fears and for right now, his campaign hasn't been picking up as much momentum as it could be as a result. Additionally, the Mormonism is likely to still be dogging him.

Mike Huckabee of Arkansas and Sam Brownback of Kansas are still relatively unknown to a lot of people nationwide and therefore they just have not been getting the kind of media coverage that the others have been. Brownback tends to be one of the more conservative members of the United States Senate, though he has now become a lot more of a dove on foreign policy and that is causing him problems. Huckabee could by dynamic but he's got some immigration problems and there are plenty of questions about whether or not he'll be able to raise the kind of money it takes to win.

Tommy Thompson is perhaps as thorough of a campaigner as anybody but he just hasn't gotten that 'buzz' yet. There's no doubt that Thompson could be the most all around conservative candidate in the race but he, like Brownback and Huckabee, has not yet captured the national attention. I am convinced that Thompson is going to do well in Iowa because he's very folksy, looks like a common Iowan, and is extraordinarily intelligent. Thompson is still just 2nd tier for right now though he is moving up the ranks faster than anyone.

Tom Tancredo is definitely conservative but he has yet to fully introduce himself to Iowans and there are many who wonder if he is just getting into the race in order to force a more aggressive debate about our immigration policies.

Duncan Hunter and Ron Paul are both well respected members of Congress but are they just don't have the buzz nor have they been to Iowa much. For now, they are back in the pack a little bit.

John Cox and Jim Gilmore are definitely very conservative guys but they are constantly surrounded by question marks as to whether they have the name recognition to win.

So, there is definitely no ideal candidate out there...YET.

And so that brings into the equation Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska. If conservatives can be calmed about his dovish tendencies toward Iraq, then Hagel might be the most well-known conservative in the race.

Recently, the National Journal released their 2006 liberal/conservative scores for Senators and Congressmen. After taking into account votes based on economic, social, and foreign policy; a formula is created and the votes are plugged in.

The Result? Of the 2008 Presidential aspirants already in the race or names that are floated, Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska is the most conservative U.S. Senator. He just outflanks Brownback by a little bit.

Sure, Hagel bucks the President on foreign policy; but on most other issues, he totes the party line better than any of the other Senators in the race.

I, for one, would like to see Hagel get into the race. I've met Senator Hagel and heard him lecture at Iowa State in 2005. He's a very intelligent man who would bring a lot to the foreign policy debate and future of the party.

Back in December, I wrote about the Nebraska Senate Race should Hagel retire or run for President and I am confident that seat would be very safe for the GOP no matter who is running on the Republican ticket so that is not a worry for the Republicans.

I hope Hagel makes a decision soon because he quite possibly could be the credible credentialed conservative candidate to watch.
Publisher's Note: Check out those lists and see where members of the Iowa Delegation fall.

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Hagel Statement on Announcement that the U.S., Iran and Syria will Attend Talks in Baghdad

Hagel Statement on Announcement that the U.S., Iran and Syria will Attend Talks in Baghdad

February 27th, 2007 - WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Iraqi Foreign Minister announced today that Iran and Syria will join U.S. and British envoys at a meeting in Baghdad next month to seek ways to stabilize Iraq. U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) has repeatedly called for regional talks to address the situation in Iraq. Hagel released the following statement today in reaction to the announcement:

“This is an important diplomatic initiative taken by the Iraqi government. We will not achieve peace and stability in Iraq without a regional framework that includes Iran and Syria. This conference can be an important first step towards creating that framework,” Hagel said.

Hagel Statement on Congressional Commission on National Guard and Reserve’s Report that 90 Percent of Army National Guard Units are rated “not ready”

March 1st, 2007 -
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) released the following statement today regarding a report published by the Congressional Commission on the National Guard and Reserve’s Report that concluded 90 percent of Army National Guard Units are rated “not ready.” The report details the Guard’s struggles with equipment, recruitment and retention, training and funding. The Commission estimates that the National Guard would require $38 billion for equipment to restore domestic Army and Air units to full readiness:

“This report serves as a clear indication of the damage we have done to the National Guard over the last four years. As I have said, we are stretching the National Guard beyond the breaking point. It is unacceptable to ask the National Guard to take on missions for which we have not prepared or equipped them. The report’s recommendations should be seriously considered and the Administration and Congress must act now to fix these problems,” Hagel said.

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Hagel's Introduction of Two New Resolutions

Senators Hagel and Clinton Re-Introduce Lung Cancer Resolution

February 27th, 2007 - WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) re-introduced a resolution today calling on the President to declare lung cancer a national public health priority by increasing funding for lung cancer research, developing early detection lung cancer screening programs and appointing an advisory committee to oversee and coordinate efforts to reduce lung cancer mortality rates. Hagel and Clinton introduced a similar resolution in the 109th Congress.

“Lung cancer is the most lethal form of cancer for men and women in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates that over 900 Nebraskans will die of lung cancer in 2007. We have made great advancements in prostate and breast cancer survival rates; we must commit ourselves to making the same progress in lung cancer survival rates,” Hagel said.

Nebraska last year was the first state in the nation to initiate a state-wide screening program for lung cancer through the Nebraska Early Detection and Information Technology [NEED-IT] program at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC).

“Lung cancer touches millions of families across America and more than 12,000 new cases are diagnosed in New York State every year. We must do our part to increase awareness of this disease and support ongoing early detection and treatment research,” Senator Clinton said.

The Hagel-Clinton legislation lays out a multi-agency action blueprint for reducing lung cancer’s high mortality rate by at least 50 percent by 2015. Both senators’ emphasized the need for a carefully coordinated approach among the federal agencies, including the Department of Health and Human Services as well as the Department of Veterans Affairs, in focusing on earlier detection and more effective treatments.

“Research in the prevention, early detection, and treatment of lung cancer is critically important in order to improve the survival from lung cancer. The Lung Cancer Resolution introduced today will help to make lung cancer research a priority and provide hope for patients who develop this disease,” said Ken Cowan, M.D., Ph.D., director of the UNMC Eppley Cancer Center.

Hagel Re-Introduces GI Enhancement Legislation

March 1st, 2007 -
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) today re-introduced legislation that would eliminate the current Montgomery GI Bill’s $1,200 enrollment fee for active duty members of the military, including Reserve and National Guard members. Hagel introduced similar legislation in the 108th and 109th Congresses.

“The demands on America’s service members and their families have been significantly increased with the threats of the 21st century. The Montgomery GI Bill must be updated to ensure that it is relevant to the sacrifices our service members are making. There can be no higher priority for America than our soldiers and their families,” Hagel said.

The Montgomery GI Bill Enhancement Act of 2007 covers any member of the United States military, including Reserve and National Guard members, serving on active duty during the period after President Bush’s November 2001 Executive Order that placed the military on a wartime footing. Hagel’s bill would:

• Waive the GI Bill enrollment fee until President Bush’s November 2001 Executive Order is rescinded;

• Allow all servicemen and women who have served or are serving on active duty since November 2001 to opt into the GI Bill with no penalty or enrollment fee; and

• Reimburse those servicemen and women who entered service after President Bush’s November 2001 Executive Order and paid the $1,200 enrollment fee.

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Will Hagel Run as an Independent?

The Real Clear Politics Blog has posted the following quote from Senator Hagel:
Q: Would you give any consideration to running as an Independent?
Well, if I seek the Presidency, I would seek it as a Republican. Where all this
is going to go and how it ends up next year, whether that's possible for an
Independent to be elected President, maybe. Maybe it would be. But, right now,
I'd be focused on seeking the Republican nomination.

Hagel Talks Up Third-Party '08 Bid

Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska is keeping his options open as he considers a run for the presidency.

As a Republican, he would be primarily interested in the GOP nomination. But if that isn't a realistic possibility, he'd be open to running on a hybrid ticket with a Democrat.

"If I decide to get into this, I would run not just to make a statement," Hagel, 60, said in a recent interview, according to USA Today.

The third-party option is known as Unity08, in which bipartisan political operatives use the Internet to craft a Republican-Democratic presidential ticket.

"I think it's a very intriguing enterprise," Hagel told USA Today, adding that he thinks most Americans are unhappy with the GOP and Democrats.

Hagel has become a critic of President Bush's foreign policy, although he voted in October 2002 for the authorization to go to war in Iraq.

Hagel says a troop surge in Iraq will result in "a vat of chaos." He also says America is letting its chance of winning over a "pro-American generation" of young Iranians slip away.

Such outspokenness has angered the administration. Vice President Dick Cheney told Newsweek magazine: "I believe firmly in Ronald Reagan's '11th Commandment': Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican. But it's very hard sometimes to adhere to that where Chuck Hagel is involved."

© NewsMax 2007. All rights reserved.

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Putting Off Getting into the '08 Race Could Pay off for Hagel

Putting off getting into the '08 race could pay off for Hagel

WASHINGTON - While Chuck Hagel has been contemplating whether to seek the presidency, 18 other politicians started running.

Two opted out of the race.

Two launched campaign efforts, then quit.

Still, Hagel ponders.

Last week, on a four-day swing through Nebraska, the Republican senator put it off again.

"We'll make that decision one of these days," he said. "And I'll let you know."

Among established politicians flirting with the 2008 race, Hagel and former New York Gov. George Pataki are the most notable prospects who have yet to reveal their plans.

Political analysts say the delay could hurt - or help.

Starting late puts Hagel at a disadvantage in raising funds, identifying supporters and putting forth a campaign message, said Stuart Rothenberg, editor of the Washington-based Rothenberg Political Report.

But if Hagel were to run, he could occupy an unusual niche, such as the anti-Iraq war Republican, Rothenberg said.

"It's getting too late, but he's a quirky candidate, so they are allowed to run quirkier campaigns," Rothenberg said.

Republican consultant Scott Reed, who was campaign manager for former Sen. Bob Dole's 1996 presidential bid, agreed that if Hagel runs, it will be a different kind of campaign.

Hagel's views on the Iraq war - he supports beginning to withdraw U.S. forces this year - puts him in line with 66 percent of Americans who, polls show, oppose the war. That could be potent fuel for a campaign, Reed said.

"He'll have a lone voice on a hot issue, and that'll be the strategy," Reed said.

Hagel has waited so long now, he's reaching a point where it might make sense to hold off, perhaps until fall, said Chuck Todd, editor of the Hotline, an electronic newsletter that tracks American politics.

That would let the other candidates spend their money, knock one another around and, perhaps, wear out their welcome, Todd suggested.

"If he waits, he becomes the new flavor."

That's the strategy adopted by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., said University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato.

"Hagel could say, 'My friend Newt Gingrich has the right idea. Let's see what this thing looks like in September,'" Sabato said.

Hagel seems to be genuinely wrestling with the decision.

Those who have spoken with him say a big concern is the potential impact a presidential campaign would have on his wife, Lilibet, and their two teenage children.

Meanwhile, rumors in Nebraska and Washington have run wild: Hagel's about to announce; he's setting up an exploratory committee; he's setting up a committee and quitting the Senate; he's sidestepping the presidential race; he's running for re-election to the Senate.

Often people ask him directly, but they don't get far. Even kids are getting into the act.

Speaking to about 90 fourth- and fifth-graders at a Kearney elementary school on Thursday, Hagel tested the waters for his presidential bid.

"Should I run?" he asked.

"Yes!" the kids screamed in unison.

"Well, maybe I'll just announce right now," he said.

"We'd like that," a teacher said.

But Hagel declined their invitation, just as he has during persistent questioning from reporters.

On a flight from Kearney to Omaha, Hagel acknowledged that his family is the biggest consideration. Specifically, he worries about a loss of privacy for his daughter, 16-year-old Allyn, and his son, Ziller, 14.

"When you commit yourself to something this big and throw yourself onto the national stage, that strips them of all privacy. I would never do this unless I had the full support of my family," he said.

He expressed confidence they could handle the challenge because, for most of their lives, he's been in politics.

"But I have to consider what this does to them as individuals. . . . Suddenly they're not Allyn and Ziller, they're just the presidential candidate's kids."

He's working through other issues, too, such as weighing his ability to raise enough money for a campaign. He says he has been encouraged by what he's heard so far.

He said he won't run unless he's confident he could win, but it's even more important to him that he feels passionately about the race.

"You have to believe in something strongly enough to commit yourself to it," he said.

As for when he'll make a move, Hagel said he's done his best not to set a specific deadline.

"I've said I'll make a decision in the next few weeks, and that's still the case."

After he first disclosed an interest in the presidential contest in August 2004, Hagel said he would decide after the 2006 elections. He repeated that through 2005 and 2006.

Interviewed the day after the Nov. 7 election, Hagel pushed the timetable back, saying: "I will announce what I intend to do regarding my political future sometime early next year."

In a Nov. 29, 2006, column, Washington Post writer David Ignatius said Hagel had indicated a formal decision would be made within two months.

After the first of the year, Hagel and his spokesman, Mike Buttry, began repeatedly saying it would come within "the next couple of weeks."

That's now seven weeks and counting.

Last Sunday, on NBC's "Meet the Press," Hagel told host Tim Russert, "I'll make a decision within a couple of weeks and make it public."

And asked Thursday whether an announcement would come before or after a trip he's planning to Iraq next month, he said it depends on when exactly the trip is scheduled.

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