GOP hopes to stop the Dems in next year's election took another hit today as aides announced Chuck Hagel's retirement from the Senate. They also dashed rumors that he will run for the White House on an Independent ticket alongside Michael Bloomberg. Hagel’s departure leaves the GOP with 22 contestable seats to defend in 2008, the New York Times reports.
His retreat also leaves the GOP with one less Iraq war critic. A Vietnam vet and strong conservative presence on military affairs, Hagel had broken with Bush over the war. Analysts say he is keeping a campaign promise to serve only two terms in the Senate; pundits are now mulling who will take his place on next year's Nebraska ticket.