Hagel hints he would endorse Bloomberg over Trump or Cruz
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Former Defense Secretary Chuck HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelHagel: Trump is 'an embarrassment' Tax cut complete, hawks push for military increase Pentagon documents hundreds of serious misconduct cases against top brass MORE said Friday that he would consider backing Michael Bloomberg for president if the Republican party nominates either businessman Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpDems flip Wisconsin state Senate seat Sessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants GOP rep: 'Sheet metal and garbage' everywhere in Haiti MORE or Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzWith religious liberty memo, Trump made America free to be faithful again Interstate compacts aren't the right way to fix occupational licensing laws Texas Dem: ‘I don’t know what to believe’ about what Trump wants for wall MORE (R-Texas), according to the New York Times.

“Ted Cruz talks about carpet-bombing the Middle East,” Hagel said in an interview with the Times. “Does he understand, if that was initiated, the consequences of that? Donald Trump’s way of handling immigrants, Muslims — those are just not realistic. They’re dangerous.”

Before Hagel served as Pentagon chief in the Obama administration, he was a Republican senator from Nebraska. Since leaving his cabinet post last year, he has been critical of the president.

Hagel praised Bloomberg, who he had considered running with when the former New York mayor flirted with an independent presidential campaign in 2008.

"He understands governing,” Hagel said of Bloomberg. “He understands leadership. He understands people. He’s got the qualities that are required for the presidency, starting with character.”

Last week, the New York Times reported that Bloomberg would consider a third-party run for president if the general election matchup ended up being Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) against either Cruz or Trump.

Hagel on Friday said the former mayor would be well-prepared in such an event and would not rush into a decision.

“He’s not going to dive off a high-dive here with just a pool of hope underneath him,” he said.