He has become a leading Senate voice on foreign policy, promoting a pragmatic approach of reaching out to allies and adversaries alike to build economic, social and political relationships.If the surge were a disaster, he would have gotten traction. Fortunately, it's not.
A decorated Vietnam combat veteran, Hagel drew the most attention for his break with the Republican president on Iraq.
Early this year, his frustration erupted after Bush announced plans for a troop buildup to try to curb violence in Iraq. Hagel labeled it "the worst foreign policy blunder since Vietnam - if it's carried out."
That and other criticism triggered a backlash from some conservatives, who viewed him as disloyal to the Republican president and potentially jeopardizing troops abroad.
Hagel didn't relish the attacks. He explained how Vietnam had a big impact on his view of this war. He recalled Congress' silence during much of Vietnam, as well as the 58,000 Americans who died. He said he didn't want that history to repeat itself.
"I'll be damned if I'm going to stand there and accept the status quo and let it all happen again," he said.
September 8, 2007
Chuck Hagel gives up -- his Senate seat and his presidential ambitions.