Hagel's wife to endorse Barack Obama

/ Source: The Associated Press

The wife of Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel plans to endorse Democrat Barack Obama.

Lilibet Hagel has scheduled a 10 a.m. news conference in Alexandria, Va., on Tuesday with Susan Eisenhower, the daughter of Republican President Eisenhower.

Hagel, R-Neb., has made no endorsement. Lilibet Hagel said in an Associated Press interview that her decision was independent of her husband. She said she didn't know whether he would make an endorsement or whom he would support.

"You'd have to ask him," Lilibet Hagel said.

She said it will be her first endorsement of a Democrat and that perilous world conditions were a factor.

"The fact is we're in two wars, two of the longest we've ever been in. We've run up a third of our nation's debt in just the past eight years. We're in the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression," she said.

'This isn't anti-McCain'
The Hagels know John and Cindy McCain, and she said her endorsement was not meant to slam them.

"This isn't anti-McCain. This is pro-Obama. I'm just convinced he's the right person," she said.

The Hagels vote in Nebraska, but they have lived in Washington's Virginia suburbs since Hagel won his first Senate term in 1996.

A moderate Republican and veteran wounded in combat in the Vietnam War, Hagel has been a fierce and credible critic of the Bush administration's Iraq policies. During the summer, he accompanied Obama and Democratic Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island to Iraq and Afghanistan. He was briefly the object of speculation as a possible surprise Obama running mate selection.

Hagel has decided not to seek re-election, and will leave the Senate when his second term officially ends in January.