Republican ready to serve as Obama's vice-president

A Republican senator said today he would consider being Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s running mate if asked – an unusual offer in a country where politicians do not cross party lines for such a high-profile position.

However, Senator Chuck Hagel, a Nebraska Republican, said he doesn’t expect to be on any ticket.

Mr Hagel’s vocal criticism of the Bush administration since the 2003 invasion of Iraq has touched off speculation that if Mr Obama were to pick a Republican running mate, it might be Mr Hagel.

Mr Hagel said that after devoting much of his life to his country – in the Senate and the US Army – he would have to consider any offer.

“If it would occur, I would have to think about it,” Mr Hagel said. “I think anybody, anybody would have to consider it. Doesn’t mean you’d do it, doesn’t mean you’d accept it, could be too many gaps there, but you’d have to consider it, I mean, it’s the only thing you could do. Why wouldn’t you?”

In a book published this year, Mr Hagel said that despite holding one of the Senate’s strongest records of support for President George Bush, his standing as a Republican has been called into question because of his opposition to what he deems “a reckless foreign policy ... that is divorced from a strategic context”.

Mr Hagel wrote in America: Our Next Chapter that the invasion of Iraq was “the triumph of the so-called neoconservative ideology, as well as Bush administration arrogance and incompetence”.

He said that he and Mr Obama also have differences.

“But what this country is going to have to do is come together next year, and the next president is going to have to bring this country together to govern with some consensus,” Mr Hagel said.

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