updated 9/8/2007 6:15:06 AM ET 2007-09-08T10:15:06

Sen. Chuck Hagel is set to announce Monday that he is retiring from the Senate and that he won’t join the race for the White House in 2008, the Omaha World-Herald newspaper reported on its Web site Friday night, citing “people close” to the Republican from Nebraska.

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The newspaper reported that Hagel told Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of his decision on Friday morning. The Nebraskan’s staff learned of the decision Friday afternoon, the World-Herald reported.

Hagel, 60, was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996 and would be up for reelection in 2008.

Hagel, a decorated combat veteran of the Vietnam War, has emerged on the national stage as a vocal critic of the Bush administration’s Iraq policies.

His retirement means the Republican Party will be scrambling to fill his seat in 2008 at a time when the GOP will already be defending more Senate seats than Democrats.

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