Does Chuck Hagel have a chance?

Alex Wong/Getty Images Jonathan Alter thinks maverick Republican Senator Chuck Hagel could be his party’s candidate for president in 2008. Hagel’s often prescient stance on the increasingly unpopular Iraq war, Alter says, could turn voters in his favor. I beg to differ. Sure, Hagel has gotten a lot of things right about Iraq. We foreign-policy ...

604994_hagel_mtp_05.jpg
604994_hagel_mtp_05.jpg

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Jonathan Alter thinks maverick Republican Senator Chuck Hagel could be his party's candidate for president in 2008. Hagel's often prescient stance on the increasingly unpopular Iraq war, Alter says, could turn voters in his favor.

I beg to differ. Sure, Hagel has gotten a lot of things right about Iraq. We foreign-policy types tend to see the senator as a steely-eyed realist who isn't afraid to tiptoe outside the Washington mainstream. But most American voters, if they notice him at all, likely see Chuck Hagel as that boring guy who never smiles and is always on Meet the Press.



Alex Wong/Getty Images

Jonathan Alter thinks maverick Republican Senator Chuck Hagel could be his party’s candidate for president in 2008. Hagel’s often prescient stance on the increasingly unpopular Iraq war, Alter says, could turn voters in his favor.

I beg to differ. Sure, Hagel has gotten a lot of things right about Iraq. We foreign-policy types tend to see the senator as a steely-eyed realist who isn’t afraid to tiptoe outside the Washington mainstream. But most American voters, if they notice him at all, likely see Chuck Hagel as that boring guy who never smiles and is always on Meet the Press.

And here’s another point to consider: In the final analysis, it’s not Republican primary voters so much as it is primary donors who decide winners and losers these days. And the senator from Nebraska is way behind competitors Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani, and fellow Vietnam veteran John McCain in that department. Unless Hagel undergoes a massive personality transplant, I don’t see him doing as Alter suggests and launching some sort of Howard Dean-like Internet fund-raising juggernaut. That’s just not Chuck’s style.

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