Hagel hints he would endorse Bloomberg over Trump or Cruz
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Former Defense Secretary Chuck HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelThe Hill's 12:30 Report The Hill's 12:30 Report Billionaires stopping climate change action have a hold on Trump, GOP MORE said Friday that he would consider backing Michael Bloomberg for president if the Republican party nominates either businessman Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden slams Trump over golf gif hitting Clinton Trump Jr. declines further Secret Service protection: report Report: Mueller warned Manafort to expect an indictment MORE or Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea GOP state lawmakers meet to plan possible constitutional convention 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.”

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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.