Hagel to announce political plans Monday
BY JAKE THOMPSON AND ROBYNN TYSVER
WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITERS
WASHINGTON - Sen. Chuck Hagel, who's long been considering whether to run for the White House, will announce his political plans in Omaha on Monday, his office announced Wednesday.
Nebraska Sen. Chuck HagelThe Nebraska Republican will hold a 10 a.m. press conference at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
He will speak in Bootstrapper Memorial Hall at UNO's William H. and Dorothy Thompson Alumni Center, his office said.
Hagel's spokesman, Mike Buttry, declined to offer any details about what Hagel will announce. He said only that it would be "a news conference regarding his future plans."
Hagel has a number of options.
He could launch a presidential campaign; he could file paperwork for an exploratory presidential committee; he could set up that committee without making a full commitment to a 2008 presidential bid; he could take a step toward the race but delay a formal decision until later; or he could decide not to run.
He also might discuss whether he will seek re-election to a third term in the Senate next year when his current term expires.
Several key Republicans, speaking on the condition of anonymity, speculated this week that Hagel may defer making a final decision on a presidential bid until September. In the meantime, he could leave open the possibility of seeking a third Senate term.
Under that scenario, Hagel could see how the current field of presidential candidates fares on the campaign trail before he makes a final decision.
That would be similar to what Newt Gingrich is doing. The former U.S. House speaker from Georgia has said he will wait until the fall to decide whether to enter the presidential race.
Already, 18 Republicans and Democrats are running for president in what is shaping up to be a lengthy and hotly contested showdown.
They include Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.; former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Republican; Sen. Hillary Clinton, the former first lady and now Democratic senator from New York, and Sen. Barak Obama, D-Ill.
Other Republican hopefuls include former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado, former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson, former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore, Texas Rep. Ron Paul and Rep. Duncan Hunter of California.
Other Democrats include New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut, former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards, Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio and former Sen. Mike Gravel of Washington.
After Monday's announcement, Hagel is scheduled to appear at a Nebraska GOP fundraiser in Washington on Tuesday. On Wednesday, he will speak at a presidential forum hosted by the International Association of Fire Fighters in Washington.
That forum included 10 politicians from both parties an opportunity to speak for 30 minutes to an influential and bipartisan labor union. At this point, Hagel is the only one of the 10 who hasn't launched a full-fledged presidential campaign.
He also plans to speak March 28 to the Building and Construction Trades Department, an alliance of craft unions.