Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska slammed Sarah Palin for her lack of foreign policy experience, making him the most prominent Republican officeholder to publicly question whether John McCain's vice presidential pick had the experience to serve as commander in chief.
"I think it's a stretch to -- in any way -- say that she's got the experience to be president of the United States," Hagel told the Omaha World-Herald. "She doesn't have any foreign policy credentials. You get a passport for the first time in your life last year? I mean, I don't know what you can say. You can't say anything."
Hagel, a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a critic of the Iraq war, has a reputation as somebody unafraid to break with his party. He supported McCain's unsuccessful bid for president in 2000, but has said he has no plans to endorse McCain or Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.
Since McCain named the Alaska governor his running mate, his campaign, defending her foreign policy qualifications, has cited Alaska's proximity to Russia.
And when ABC News asked Palin last week what insight into Russian actions that proximity gave her, she replied: "They're our next-door neighbors, and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska."
Hagel scoffed at that.
"I think they ought to be just honest about it and stop the nonsense about, 'I look out my window and I see Russia and so therefore I know something about Russia,' " he said. "That kind of thing is insulting to the American people."