Washington CNN  — 

Former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Tuesday that he’s supporting Joe Biden for president, arguing that the former VP is the “right person” for “this time in our country,” though he remains a Republican.

“I don’t know of a more experienced, better person, a more decent person in politics. He’s smart, he understands, he listens. There is no perfect candidate. But I think Joe Biden, for this time in our country, with the challenges that we have, I think he’s the right person,” Hagel, who served in the Obama administration alongside Biden, told CNN’s Brianna Keilar on “Right Now” Tuesday.

Visit CNN’s Election Center for full coverage of the 2020 race

Hagel, who is also a former Republican senator from Nebraska, said Biden is “not only a good friend, but he’s a man I have admired for many, many years.” The former defense secretary added that while he likes Bernie Sanders, he feels the Vermont senator’s positions are “just too far left” and would hurt Democrats in down ballot races.

But he added that he’s still a Republican and will let the Democrats “sort out who they want to be their candidate.”

“But as far as I’m concerned, as an American, I think the best president would be Joe Biden. And I hope he is the nominee, and I’ll help him, definitely help him if he is,” Hagel said.

Hagel has been critical of President Donald Trump, calling him “an embarrassment” and accusing him of trivializing Congress.

Trump in 2014 called the then-defense secretary “dumb” and a “poor leader in these very dangerous times.”