Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb, this morning criticized two attacks his friend, fellow Republican, fellow Vietnam veteran and Senate Russell Building next-door neighbor Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., launched against Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, this week.
On CBS’s Face the Nation this morning, host Bob Schieffer asked Hagel about McCain’s claim that "Senator Obama would rather lose a war in order to win a campaign."
"I think John is treading on some very thin ground here when he impugns motives and when we start to get into, ‘You’re less patriotic than me. I’m more patriotic,’" Hagel said. "I admire and respect John McCain very much. I have a good relationship. To this day we do. We talk often. I talked to him right before I went to Iraq, as a matter of fact. John’s better than that."
Schieffer also asked about McCain’s new TV ad in which he says Obama in Europe "made time to go to the gym but canceled a visit with wounded troops. Seems the Pentagon wouldn’t allow him to bring cameras."
Hagel, who accompanied Obama on their official trip to Afghanistan and Iraq but broke off in Jordan, said, "the congressional delegation that you referred to ended when we parted in Jordan. At that point, it was a political trip for Senator Obama. I think it would have been inappropriate for him and certainly he would have been criticized by the McCain people and the press and probably should have been if on a political trip in Europe paid for by political funds – not the taxpayers -to go, essentially, then and be accused of using our wounded men and women as props for his campaign…I think it would be totally inappropriate for him on a campaign trip to go to a military hospital and use those soldiers as props. So I think he probably, based on what I know, he did the right thing."
Hagel said he wasn’t sure about all the details of the controversy, but "we saw troops everywhere we went on the congressional delegation. We went out of our way to see those troops."
Hagel said of McCain’s ad, "I do not think it was appropriate."