Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel to Consider 2008 Presidential Bid

Sen. Chuck Hagel said Monday that he will make a decision on his political plans later this year.

Hagel made his announcement Monday at the University of Nebraska at Omaha's alumni center.

For more than a year, there was speculation Hagel might seek the Republican nomination for president in 2008. But Hagel again refused Monday to indicate whether he would run for president, a third term in the Senate, both or neither.

Visit's You Decide 2008 center for more coverage.

Hagel said he wanted to focus his attention now on the important issues facing the country, such as the Iraq war.

"America now reaches for a national consensus of purpose," Hagel said.

The 60-year-old senator is probably best known to voters as a high-profile critic of the Bush administration dating back to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. That criticism evolved into heated discordance in January when the Nebraska Republican called President Bush's plan to send an additional 21,500 U.S. troops to Iraq "the most dangerous foreign policy blunder carried out since Vietnam."

Within a week, Hagel helped craft a resolution with two Democrats, Sens. Carl Levin of Michigan and Joseph Biden of Delaware, opposing the plan. A week after that, Hagel accused the Bush administration of playing "a pingpong game with American lives."

The rhetoric drew the public ire of Vice President Dick Cheney, who told Newsweek in January that following Republican icon Ronald Reagan's mantra not to speak ill of another Republican is sometimes hard to follow "where Chuck Hagel is involved."

Several prominent Republicans have already declared their intention to run for president including: U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas.