HAGEL’S WIFE TO ENDORSE OBAMA…. For the better part of the summer, there was ample speculation about whether Sen. Chuck Hagel, a conservative Republican from Nebraska, would take on a Lieberman-like role in the Obama campaign. He’s clearly estranged from his party, and he’s publicly suggested that he can no longer relate to today’s GOP. For that matter, Hagel has repeatedly said Obama’s approach to foreign policy is right, while McCain’s is wrong.

Speculation picked up in June when Hagel announced he would “consider” joining the Democratic ticket if invited, and again in July when Hagel accompanied Obama for a trip to the Middle East.

But the talk ultimately fizzled when Hagel announced he wouldn’t endorse either candidate (after having served as a national co-chair of McCain’s 2000 campaign). But then there’s Hagel’s wife to consider.

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 granddaughter of Republican President Eisenhower. Susan Eisenhower also is an Obama supporter. […]

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.

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.

It’s hard to say whether Lilibet Hagel is going to sway a lot of minds, but as a friend of mine noted last night, “Nebraska splits the electoral vote by congressional district, rather than winner take all, and eastern Nebraska and the area around Omaha — the area the Hagel’s call home — is pretty Democratic.”

It certainly couldn’t hurt.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.