Hagel hints he would endorse Bloomberg over Trump or Cruz
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Former Defense Secretary Chuck HagelCharles (Chuck) Timothy HagelShould Mike Pompeo be confirmed? Intel chief: Federal debt poses 'dire threat' to national security Hagel: Trump is 'an embarrassment' MORE said Friday that he would consider backing Michael Bloomberg for president if the Republican party nominates either businessman Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpIG investigating Comey memos over classified information: report Overnight Defense: Congress poised for busy week on nominations, defense bill | Trump to deliver Naval Academy commencement speech | Trump administration appeals decision to block suspected combatant's transfer Top Pruitt aid requested backdate to resignation letter: report MORE or Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzCruz's Dem challenger slams Time piece praising Trump Race for Republican Speaker rare chance to unify party for election 32 male senators back Senate women's calls to change harassment rules 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.