Hagel said he is “receiving fresh encouragement to consider a presidential candidacy” and that he intends to “study the landscape and disclose his intentions ‘in the next few weeks.'”
“There is no Republican presidential candidate with this point of view. There might be an opening for me on this,” Mr. Hagel said. “I’ve had three very significant Republican fundraisers come to me this week, all of whom said I should look at running.”
He declined to name the fundraisers, only saying: “They are three Bush people, not committed to any candidate yet. You would recognize two of the names, clearly.” With a smile, he added, “Of course I’d need more than three.”
On his Non-announcement Announcement in May:
“I think people have enough regard for me to know that I’m not a flake, that I’m a serious leader,” Mr. Hagel said. “Whether you agree with me or not – or whether you think I’d have a chance or not, that’s a different thing. But I don’t think anyone would doubt my sincerity to do a good job and do it right.”
On running for Prez:
“It’s not a no. I have not said no,” Mr. Hagel said, standing on the grounds of the Capitol, where one day earlier war protestors had stood vigil. “I don’t want to make a decision in the flurry of all this, the intensity of all this. Next month when we get a little break, I’ve got to sort it out. I’ve got to make a decision and I will.”
With more Republicans in the Senate breaking ranks with the White House on Iraq, this would seem to be the start of the opening Hagel was hoping for. It still would seem radically unlikely that he could win either in the GOP primary or something with a Bloomberg on an an Independent ticket. No one knows what Hagel really hopes to get out of Presidential run — short of winning.
In any case, it’s pretty obvious that Hagel would much rather talk with the Tim Russerts of the world about Iraq, than with a farmer from Ord about soybean prices. If he can find a good enough reason to run for Prez, that may give him the out of having to bother with AG Jon Bruning on a trek across the state.
An answer in “a few weeks” or “next month” puts him on track with our Countdown Clock, above to the right.
Many (pols) are waiting with baited breath…