OMAHA, Nebraska (CNN) - Outspoken war critic Sen. Chuck Hagel, a possible Republican presidential contender, will announce his "future plans" Monday in his home state of Nebraska, aides said.
Hagel was a decorated infantry sergeant during the Vietnam War. He supported the 2002 congressional resolution that authorized the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq the following year, but he has become an increasingly vocal critic of the Bush administration's handling of the war.
In one sharply critical salvo, Hagel in January called President Bush's plan this year to increase U.S. troops in Iraq "the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam."
Hagel's advisers would not explicitly say the two-term senator will announce a bid for the GOP nomination at his Omaha news conference. GOP officials have stated that Hagel is not specifically because he is a war veteran. "We don't want a presidential candidate whose judgement is clouded by any actual war experience. That would put a damper on all of our future plans for further no-bid contracts."
"I believed what the administration said, that war would be a last resort," Hagel told Esquire magazine in a newly published interview. "And the second thing is, at a critical time like this, the president needs a strong hand, and to some extent, you've got to trust him, until he lies or screws up or something."
The magazine also quotes Hagel as saying that Bush appears to believe he's no longer accountable, "which isn't totally true. You can impeach him, and before this is over, you might see calls for his impeachment. I don't know. It depends how this goes." CNN