Former Sen. Hagel: GOP being 'irresponsible' on healthcare

Republican senators trying to kill healthcare reform have acted irresponsibly, one of their former colleagues asserted.

Former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) chided some of his former colleagues who have suggested that halting healthcare reform would be politically beneficial to the GOP.

"If your attitude is wrong, if your intention is to use healthcare to destroy the other party, or to destroy the presidency of Barack Obama, then it's very unlikely you're going to find much consensus from people who want to use healthcare," Hagel said earlier this month in a speech at the University of Michigan, video of which was only made available recently.

"As some Republican senators have said publicly -- that if we kill Obama on this, and we destroy this, and we defeat his, that will drive a stake through his political heart on this administration," the former senator, who retired at the end of his term in January, added. "I just find that about as irresponsible of a thing as I can think of."

By the time Hagel had left office, he had been somewhat of an open critic of some elements within the Republican Party, and had declined to endorse the party's presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) during the presidential election.

Hagel said during his speech that it would have been "wrong" for him to endorse McCain despite serious reservations about some of the people McCain had surrounded himself with during the campaign.

"John McCain is a very close friend. But John and I, our view of the world -- the wars, foreign policy, the people that John had around him -- I just could not support that," Hagel explained.

"You've got to follow your own conviction and conscience. It would have been wrong to do that, for me," Hagel added. "I just couldn't agree with John on a lot of this stuff. And I thought a lot of people around John were dangerous. I didn't want to see them in power."

The former senator, who now serves as a professor at Georgetown University and the University of Nebraska, said he declined to endorse now-President Barack Obama because he vowed to not do anything in the campaign to hurt McCain.

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But Hagel revealed that he still speaks with Obama administration officials, including the president, with some regularity. Hagel's name has been rumored as in contention for a cabinet position, potentially secretary of Defense, for Obama.

Hagel was asked whether he would run as a Republican if he were to seek office again, a question the Nebraska native did not answer directly.

"I would run as Chuck Hagel. I always have," he said. "If I'd run again, I'd run on my record, and who I am, and that's the way I'd do it."

Watch the video of the speech below: