11/27/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Hagel: Palin "Arguably The Thinnest-Résumé Candidate" For VP In U.S. History

In early June, Senators Chuck Hagel and John McCain met in Hagel's office on Capitol Hill. McCain, the presumptive Republican Presidential nominee, considered Hagel--a fellow-Republican and the senior senator from Nebraska--among his closest friends in Congress. Six months earlier, in December, 2007, McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis, had asked Hagel to endorse McCain and campaign with him in the upcoming primaries. Hagel had demurred. ...

Hagel skipped the Republican Convention, choosing instead to go, with two aides, on a fact-finding trip to Latin America. He did hear McCain's speech, which, in its evocation of the need to bridge a disabling partisan divide, echoed the theme of his discussion with McCain in their meeting in June. But, Hagel said, he's been "very disappointed" by McCain's campaign. "He gave one unifying speech and then has spent fifty million dollars to destroy his opponent." Hagel may be the only senior Republican elected official who has publicly criticized McCain's choice of Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. "I don't believe she's qualified to be President of the United States," Hagel told me. "The first judgment a potential President makes is who their running mate is--and I don't think John made a very good selection." He scoffed at McCain's attempts to portray her as an experienced politician. "To try to make the excuse that she looks out her window and sees Russia--and that she's commander of the Alaska National Guard." He added, "There is no question that this candidate is arguably the thinnest-résumé candidate for Vice-President in the history of America."

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