Pros and Cons: Chuck Hagel as Obama’s Running Mate

Pros and Cons: Chuck Hagel as Obama’s Running Mate

ImageWould it be possible that Barack Obama would take his message of a new kind of politics as far as selecting a Republican as his running mate? In this edition of Pros and Cons, we take a look at Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and what he would bring to a potential ticket with Obama.

Resume: Chuck Hagel is currently the senior senator from Nebraska. Hagel has announced that he will retire at the end of his current term in 2009. He first won his Senate seat in 1996, and was reelected in 2002 by a margin of 82%-14%. In the Senate, he serves on the Foreign Relations Committee, Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and the Select Committee on Intelligence among other assignments.

Hagel served in the military and saw action in Vietnam in 1967-1968. In the private sector, he made a fortune by co-founding Vanguard Cellular and has sat on the board of the American Red Cross and Bread for the World. He has been president of an investment banking firm, and owns an interest in a voting machine company, ES&S.

Pros to picking Hagel: Hagel is the most outspoken Republican critic of the Iraq war. He compared the Iraq war to Vietnam in 2005. He has had run ins with the administration warrantless wiretapping, and the Patriot Act. Hagel is a liberal Republican, who would help Obama with conservative Democrats, liberal Republicans, and Independents. He would also help in swing states with white voters. Perhaps most appealing, is the message that the selection of a career Republican would send to voters about Obama’s desire for a new kind of politics. By selecting Hagel, Obama would truly be reaching across party lines.

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Cons to selecting Hagel: Hagel is still a Republican, and outside of the Iraq issue, has major differences with the Democratic Party. In recent years, Hagel has voted against expanding Children’s Health Insurance, for the extending the Bush tax cuts, a constitutional amendment banning flag burning, the oil company tax cuts and subsidies. Hagel has voted with his Party 78% of the time, which according to statistics kept by the Washington Post is only 3.3% below the Republican average.

Hagel’s policy differences with Democrats would cause a world of problems both in the general election campaign, and governing. He has shown no interest in leaving the Republican Party. Obama would also be setting up a Republican as his potential successor, and this prospect would be bound to raise the ire and anxiety of his fellow Democrats. The image of a Democrat and a Republican running together sounds much better in theory than it would work in practice.

Odds of Obama selecting Hagel: The odds of Obama selecting Hagel are not very high. There are too many policy differences between the two men. This does not mean that Hagel would not have a place in an Obama administration. His name is constantly mentioned as a candidate for Secretary of Defense. With his views and background, this would be a perfect role for Hagel in a Democratic administration, and Obama would still be able to stick to his promise of bringing a different kind of politics to Washington.

The Choice-O-Meter Says:

OO ( 2 O’s out of 10 for Chuck Hagel)

1 O= No Chance – 10 Os = A Sure Thing

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