- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Wednesday cautioned against choosing a vice presidential nominee with a military background, saying the choice is up to the presidential candidates, but it’s not where he would go.

“I’ve always believed that we have to be very careful in keeping a very clear, separate civilian-military difference in line,” Mr. Hagel said on Fox Business Network.

“I know we’ve had President Eisenhower who was a very distinguished, one of the greatest generals of our time as president — that was a different time,” he said. “I think we’ve got to be very careful.”

Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn’s name has surfaced recently as a possible running mate for presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump. Multiple outlets have also reported that likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign is vetting retired Navy Adm. James Stavridis as a possible vice presidential pick.

Retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal told CNN on Tuesday that while he hasn’t been contacted by the Trump campaign, he’d decline conversation for any role.

“I’m not opposed to the possibility of a military individual with a military background in one of those jobs, but I think the world is such today that [it] wouldn’t be my choice,” Mr. Hagel said. “[That] wouldn’t be where I would go. I think to keep those divisions and those lines very separate is very important — as important as it’s ever been in the history of our country.”

“There are a lot of good people, very qualified people in this country for those jobs,” he said. “It’s not where I would go. … It’s the decision, obviously, of the two presidential candidates.”

“Yes, these are dangerous times, but that doesn’t mean you need a military person to be president or vice president,” Mr. Hagel said. “You’ve got a tremendous amount of other offices that you could put military people in without putting [them] in vice president or president.”

Mr. Hagel resigned as President Obama’s Secretary of Defense in late 2014 after less than two years on the job, amid reported disagreements with the administration.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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