Thursday, May 24, 2007

Does "Hagel for Prez" Still Have a Shot?

by Ryan Anderson
I have finally given up hope that Senator Hagel is going to make his political intentions clear anytime soon. He's made it perfectly clear that he has no intentions... at least, not any that he's pursuing with any consistency or logic.

Since he recently used a fundraiser apparently intended to shore up a Senate re-election campaign as a forum for a message the presumably illustrates his interest in an independent candidacy for President, I think it's safe to say that we can't safely say anything about what Hagel intends to do. But, since the stories currently dominating the headlines feature some combination of Hagel v. Bruning or Bloomberg/Hagel '08, allow me to explore the less likely but still real possibility that Chuck Hagel might throw his hat into the ring for the GOP presidential nomination.

And let me start with this new poll of Iowa Republicans:
5. Do you favor a withdrawal of all United States military from Iraq within the next six months? (Republicans Only)
Yes 54%
No 37%
Undecided 9%
Not to belabor the point, but these are Republicans only. The same Republicans who express a dissatisfaction with the current crop of GOP candidates (51-29%). The same Republicans who will cast the very first ballots (figuratively speaking... theirs is a caucus system) in this overlong presidential election.

And yes, the same Republicans who give current non-candidate Chuck Hagel a mere 1% in the polls.

But considering Ron Paul is the only other candidate attempting to capitalize on the growing unpopularity of the war in Republican ranks, is it so ridiculous to believe Hagel might make a splash even (or especially) after entering this contest so late?

One thing that's gone unnoticed in all the talk of Hagel's anti-GOP rhetoric is that the Senator hasn't rallied against the Republican Party so much as he's rallied against the Republican Party of George W. Bush:
I am not happy with the Republican Party today. It's been hijacked by a group of single-minded almost isolationists, insulationists, power-projectors...

It has drifted from the party of Eisenhower, of Goldwater, of Reagan, the party that I joined. It isn’t the same party.
Call me crazy (please don't), but isn't that exactly the kind of message that might appeal to a GOP desperately trying to claw its way out of Bush's second term slump?

I mean, we have a Republican electorate in Iowa that doesn't believe Bush represents "a conservative Republican in the mode of Ronald Reagan", and apparently can't find a proper standard bearer in an already crowded field of ten white guys.

Does that leave an opening for an anti-war conservative outsider like our own Senator Hagel? I think so. And I think there's a chance, just a chance, that Hagel might take a second look and see that for himself.

But am I gonna go back out on that limb and actually predict it? No way, man. No way.

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Blogger Kyle Michaelis said...

I agree that there's room for a Hagel candidacy in the Republican presidential primary. But, it would take money to wage a serious campaign - money that Hagel doesn't have.

I've largely avoided speculating about Hagel's true intent because his actions and statements have been so all-over-the-place that I can't help but take him at his word that he really hasn't made up his mind. If I had to guess - and this is purely a guess - I'd bet that Hagel's shooting for a run at VP with either John McCain (R) or Michael Bloomberg ($).

The thing is....he doesn't have to give up his Senate seat for either. He could pull a Lieberman 2000 and safely hedge his bets, leaving it to Dave Heineman to appoint Mike Johanns as Hagel's replacement if Hagel should somehow find himself in the White House.

As much as I'd like to believe otherwise, no Republican is going to beat Hagel in a Nebraska primary. By the May 2008 election, we will long have known who the GOP Presidential nominee is, and - under almost any scenario - Hagel will have that candidate's endorsement. In that case, claims of disloyalty just aren't going to stick.

Blogger mw said...

"One thing that's gone unnoticed in all the talk of Hagel's anti-GOP rhetoric is that the Senator hasn't rallied against the Republican Party so much as he's rallied against the Republican Party of George W. Bush..." - Ryan

Exactly. And with all due modesty, it has not gone completely unnoticed. I recall saying something to that effect in my post " Can Chuck Hagel save the GOP from the Bushies?"

There are three factions in the Republican party:

1) Traditional Fiscal Conservatives
2) Traditional Social Conservatives
3) "Loyal Bushies"

Hagel would own (1) and (2). However category (3) is wildly over-represented in the blogosphere and have been listening to their own B.S. for so long they actually believe they are the GOP. They are not.

To Kyle's point, if Hagel were to take an early primary like Iowa (as this poll indicates he could), the money would flow. And I am talking gushers. It would not be a problem.

Blogger Ryan Anderson said...

"As much as I'd like to believe otherwise, no Republican is going to beat Hagel in a Nebraska primary."

I more or less agree, and I haven't exactly been optimistic about Bruning's chances in what would at least be a very entertaining "clash of the titans".

I understand, you know: outrage is like fire. You've gotta add fuel or it goes out. The thing of it is, if Hagel is holding out for a slot on an *independent* ticket for the White House, well... that might be just enough to put Bruning's campaign over the top.

Sure, Lieberman 2000 worked. Lieberman 2006 worked, too. But both of them at the same time? I have my doubts.

In general, however, I think Democrats should start moving forward as though Hagel's going to be the nominee. It's the most likely scenario, it's probably the worst case scenario... and it pays to be prepared.

Blogger mw said...

oops. screwed up the link. It's here:
"Can Chuck Hagel save the GOP from the Bushies?"

Blogger LeftintheMidwest said...

I think it has been very difficult to gage what Hagel is going to do. I think it is important to note the meeting Hagel and Michael Bloomerberg had a few weeks ago. Bloomberg news the next day had a very cheery article on Hagel possible presidential ambitions. Also within in the next day or so Bloomber said if he did run he would spend $1 billion of his own doubling his previous statements of $500 million. Also might be worthy to note right around the time of that meeting Tony Raimondo, CEO of Behelen Mfg. Columbus, NE, and one time Bush appointee announced he would run for Hagel's seat if he chose not to run or to run for the presidency.


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