(CNN) - In the face of mounting controversy over headline-grabbing statements from Pastor John Hagee, CNN has learned presumptive Republican nominee John McCain has decided to reject his endorsement.
The Huffington Post had published a recording of Hagee saying that Adolf Hitler had been fulfilling God’s will by hastening the desire of Jews to return to Israel in accordance with biblical prophecy.
“Obviously, I find these remarks and others deeply offensive and indefensible, and I repudiate them. I did not know of them before Reverend Hagee's endorsement, and I feel I must reject his endorsement as well,” McCain said in a statement to CNN Thursday.
He added that his relationship with Hagee did not compare with Obama’s lengthy association with Rev. Jeremiah Wright. “I have said I do not believe Senator Obama shares Reverend Wright's extreme views. But let me also be clear, Reverend Hagee was not and is not my pastor or spiritual advisor, and I did not attend his church for twenty years. I have denounced statements he made immediately upon learning of them, as I do again today,” said McCain.
The Arizona senator had earlier renounced comments from Hagee that termed the Catholic church "the great whore" and "an apostate church."
Update after the jump: Hagee rescinds McCain endorsement
In a statement released before McCain rejected his endorsement, Hagee said his words had been taken out of context. "The intentional mischaracterization of my statements by an Internet journalist seeking to use me as a political football in the upcoming presidential race is a gross example of bias at its worst. I will not stand idly by while my character is assassinated and my views on the Holocaust are grossly distorted.
"To assert that I in any way condone the Holocaust or that monster Adolf Hitler is the biggest and ugliest of lies. I have always condemned the horrors of the Holocaust in the strongest of terms." He also pointed to millions of dollars worth of donations his ministry had made to humanitarian efforts in Israel.
McCain has faced similar pressure to distance himself from Minister Rod Parsley over the minister’s statement that Islam was “an antichrist religion that intends through violence to conquer the world.” A McCain aide downplayed the association, telling CNN Thursday that the senator had met Parsley only one time, over breakfast, and was not aware of the minister’s statements before accepting his endorsement.
UPDATE: Citing critics who had been "grossly misrepresenting" his positions since his decision to back John McCain, Hagee withdrew that endorsement Thursday afternoon.
"I am tired of these baseless attacks and fear that they have become a distraction in what should be a national debate about important issues. I have therefore decided to withdraw my endorsement of Senator McCain for President effective today, and to remove myself from any active role in the 2008 campaign," he said in a statement.
"I hope that the Senator McCain will accept this withdrawal so that he may focus on the issues that are most important to America and the world."
(updated with Hagee reaction)
(worried about that Jewish vote down in Florida, I imagine).
Took long enough. Will the media care? Not likely. Hagee's not a black reverend. The media will brush it under the rug.
Mccain wanted this man's endorsement knowing what he said prior to the endorsement.
It's just shocking. There is no way I would vote for Mccain.
Who cares what pastors, rabies, priests, etc. have to say about anything, honestly.
Give us a break!
Of course Mc"Bush" rejects his endorsement NOW!
Just like Obama rejected Wright's endorsment, etc. after he became a liability.
Please stop treating us as if we don't have one working brain cell. I take great offense to your arrogance.
Superdelegates, stop the Clinton's attempted theft; Obama needs to be free to fight this BS.
Wait a minute didn't I see McCain a few weeks ago on television accepting the endorsement? Now he rejects it? He and Hillary must be using the same campaign booklet.
And BTW, you are too old to be POTUS
If that ageism...take it up with the US government...employees are forced to retire at 65, but this old fool is allowed to run for the highest position in the USA?
ABOUT FRIKIN' TIME!
AND PLEASE, STOP THE EXCUSES! YOU KNEW ABOUT THE STATEMENTS THIS JACK- MADE!
WHO ARE YOU KIDDING!!!!!!!!
By all means necessary
You never miss a chance to dis Senator Obama, do you now!
I am an Arizonan and I am a Democrat...guess what, you don't have my vote.
I see Mc Cain ---– so now you have to attached Obama to your pastors problems?
Go Obama! Time to get this show on the road!
Mc"Bush" is outraged, hurt, surpised, shamed that Hagee would say or feel the way he does.
He totally rejects this man's view, his racism, his hatred....NOW! that it has become an issue.
Gee, it seems like we were here just a few weeks ago with antoehr candidate only this guy was black and had a black pastor named Wright!
Okay, I can't really criticize McCain on this one 'cause I DON'T CARE!!! Just because somebody endorsed him doesn't mean he's responsible FOR them. Anyone who's turned off to McCain solely because of Hagee is just as bad as someone who's turned off to Obama solely because of Wright.
Lies Lies Lies wait till the DNC and Obama get a hold of this. I wonder why he does not have people proof read his statements before he comes out and says thing that can be proven false with 5 seconds and Google.
Go Obama 08 Yes We Can
It took you long enough. You only did it to try to bring Rev. Wright back into the picture. You must know and understand , that America is smater than the Rev. Wright issue and any other issue you Republican's bring up Michelle's comments did not work, the flag pin did not work, Rev. Wright did not work and you have absolutely nothing else which is why you wanted so bad to run against Hillary with all the baggage that her and Bill has. The only other thing that you have is that Obama is black and if people want change and can see though Obama' black skin, then he will become become president.
This issue has been out there for a while---------–
Being wondering when it was going to get some news coverage!
I want to see Mc Shame's pastors issue in the news for the same about of time they gave Rev. Wright.................................................
JOHN "Tansparent" Mc"Bush!
You're TOAST old man! GOT MILK?
Hillary supporters, let's pretend Hillary won the nomination (which isn't going to happen – but pretend an alternate universe exists where that did happen).
What are you going to do when McCain starts winning, threaten to vote for McCain?
These "pastor problems" are seriously manufactured.
At this rate, by the time the general election is over, McCain and Obama will be left with about 3 people that they haven't had to denounce. Hopefully for them their wives will be among the 3.
McCain is the BIGGEST and GREATEST HYPOCRITE in the World.
He accepts endorsments only for political gains.
How abut we keep religion OUT OF our government all together?
Quote From Senator McCain:
“I have said I do not believe Senator Obama shares Reverend Wright's extreme views. But let me also be clear, Reverend Hagee was not and is not my pastor or spiritual advisor, and I did not attend his church for twenty years. I have denounced statements he made immediately upon learning of them, as I do again today,”
ZING!!!! This is what you and your cohort Senator Clinton does. Say one thing but try to take a parting shot at the one person who seems to have his head on straight.
Is this all you got Senator?
Yes We Can & Yes We Should
Unions are not stupid:
Go Obama 08 Yes We Can
OBAMA HAS NO ROOM TO COMMENT! He is as guilty on this issue as McCain. Only difference is his pastor was black and named Wright!
Everyone's got a crazy pastor nowadays. They are Sunday Entertainers–leave them alone.