Hagel delays decision on political future

Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) provided no definitive announcement about his political future yesterday, instead saying that he would make an announcement “later this year” and keep his options open.

Despite calling a news conference in Omaha that attracted the national media and a flurry of speculation surrounding the announcement, Hagel demurred, giving no answer on whether he planned to run for president or stand for reelection to the Senate in 2008.

Hagel said the decision was easy to make from a political standpoint, but that he risks putting his family “in a very difficult spot.”

“I’m not there yet,” Hagel said, adding that he made the decision based on his family and his constituency. “If that timeline is not good enough for the media or anyone else, I respect that. But it’s my timeline.”

Hagel rebuffed suggestions that he would run for president as an independent, saying that he has always voted Republican and that he would like to right the ship of a party that has lost its “moorings” in recent years.

Hagel said he would continue to raise money for a possible Senate reelection bid and for his political action committee. He has the least cash on hand of any senator up for reelection in 2008.

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