ABC News’ Paul Fidalgo Reports: In his first major appearance since he left the political universe in suspension by deciding not to decide on a White House run this week, Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., continued to dabble in presidential waters Wednesday in a speech before the nation’s firefighters’ union.
International Associations of Firefighters Union president Harold Schaitberger introduced Hagel with a small jab at his anticlimactic non-announcement, saying, "Our next…oops. You see, I have here ‘candidate’. But I’m going to say with foresight, ‘our next speaker and likely candidate.’"
Hagel thanked the crowd for giving him the chance to address them and acknowledged the confusion surrounding his intentions. "I know I am unworthy…most specifically because I am not an announced candidate for anything yet," said Hagel. "I have no intentions of announcing anything today. I tried that once this week. There seems to be some confusion over that so we’ll try again at a later date."
Once he clearly established his non-candidacy, Hagel offered his prescription for the kind of leadership he feels the country will be looking for, calling for "a government led by leaders who are honest, competent, and accountable, who will focus on fixing America’s problems in a dignified, and focused, and responsible way."
The senator warned that the nation will have to contend with "insidious" and "undefined" challenges such as "the 2 billion people in the world who live in abject poverty. . .that live with no dignity. Those are the people that we’re going to have to pay some attention to, and were all responsible for that,"he said.
"It is within out grasp to do more good for more people than the world’s ever known," said Hagel, "and this election next year will be about that."