From NBC's Lauren Appelbaum
The Omaha Press Club room Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) used to announce his retirement was decorated with caricatures of prominent figures, including one of fellow famous Nebraskan Johnny Carson and one of himself. As expected, he formally announced his plans. "I'm here with my family this morning to announce I will not seek a third term in the United States Senate nor do I intend to be a candidate for any office in 2008," he said.
But Hagel was not expecting a particular ominous sign to occur during his announcement. While speaking about his work in the Senate, one of the caricatures came tumbling down, missing Hagel but landing with a thump on the ground.
Hagel noticed the caricature that fell was of him and said, "It's not a good sign." After some laughter, Hagel admitted, "I would have preferred to have someone else tumble down ... [but] I think we made the point rather emphatically."
Hagel said he will "leave the Senate with the same enthusiasm and sense of purpose and love of country" as when he started and promised to finish out his term with the same hard work he has done for the past 11 years.