(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)
Now that he's won the nomination, he can drop that nut-case like a bad habit! What a man of principle John McCain is turning out to be!
These days hate speech goes and church go together like peanut butter and jelly.
Therefore, it's all a complete non-issue. Lets hope it doesn't take up to much of the campaign on either side.
Sorry McCain, the HYPOCRISY EXPRESS has left the station again! You were the maverick in 2000. Then you went out of your way to covet the endorsements of guys like Hagee and Falwell (who you still haven't rejected), and now your argument is "my crazy pastor is less bad than the other guy's crazy pastor".
To all of you Hillary supporters who intend to boycott Obama, fine, but please don't vote for this guy. Vote for that Green Party guy.
There is a huge difference between Haggee and Wright. Wright advocates non violence and questions the US use of force in dealing with our neighbors in the world. Haggee believes violence is inevitable and an act of God. One man is for peace. One man is a neocon hiding behind a bible.
"I have denounced statements he made immediately upon learning of them, as I do again today,” said McCain."
McCain is lying. I have been reading about Hagees statements since the initial Wright controversy started. This is B.S. that the media is allowing him to get away with this.
I still believe that a candidate cannot be held responsible for his Pastor's views. What happened to our famed freedom of speech and expression. Hagge, Wright etc should not be an issue in this election.
McCain could've done this MONTHS ago...why wait until now? If it takes that long to reject Hagee....my gosh how long will it take if in the White House? Does it take him that long to think it through?
Condo-lisa... Has much better foundations...
I believe Obama agrees with Rev Wright completely. Otherwise, he would have been consistent instead of denouncing by degrees as it was necessary. I can understand Rev Wright's position. He grew up in a cruel world and it is no wonder that he is "bitter". I believe love and forgiveness (as taught in every church I ever attended) has a better chance of changing the world for the better and we all know there is a lot that needs to be changed. There is no excuse for Obama taking his daughters to that church to be indoctrinated with that kind of hatred. It is just too late to explain that.
McCain's relationship with Hagee does not compare and does not need to be explained. Hagee's endorsement of McCain is the same as Hamas endorsement of Obama-unimportant.
Hagee may not be McCain's "spiritual advisor"... but Rod Parsley is...
Will he reject HIS anti-islamic and intensely homophobic endorsement as well?? We'll see...
SOPHIA: Wake up girl. Won't ever happne in our lifetimes.
McCain is nothing but a nebish and shlimazl... just like this shlump of a preacher...
Yeah, it is good to remind us of that Hagee was not your Pastor... like Wright was Obama's Pastor... but at least we now know you are a big hypocrite. I wonder how you even leave with yourself.
Now please can you Hagee respond to Macain. This will be fun.
He knew full well of this man's comments! Then he try to flip the script to referrence Rev. Wright. Nice try grumpy old man!
Any bets on how long before the next Obama double-talk? Here's how it breaks down:
Rev.Wright was no issue and the media blew it out of propotion and we should leave people's church attendance out of the campaign.
BUT Pastor Hagee is a complete and total condemnation of everything McCain stands for, whether he was his pastor or not. BONUS: And it is Hillary's fault in fact since she is a woman.
Go Hillary – save us from this!
Why are people who do not have at least a college level education even allowed to vote? It boggles the mind.
And what's really sad is that the media refused to talk about this problem extensively. But when Obama had his "pastor problems", you couldn't change a channel without hearing something about it. In fact, you never hear exit polls reflecting McCain and his nutcase pastor.
Bad move, Mac.
I'm wit' 'ya, but this was dumb.
When you have 2 jokers..this is what happens!
It's about time. It's unclear to me why he sought it in the first place. Is the "maverick" finally coming to the fore? I hope so.
Only did it so that when he meets Senator Obama when he is the nominee that he can bring up his former minister.
yes! Good news...that's starting coming out!be ready american people!
u'll know who Grand papy really is!
NOooooooooooooooooooooooooooo excuses...lies lies ....no more lies...I didn't know,right?
too little, too late. mccain is soooooo pathetically transparent.
mccain is a FAKE!!!!!!!! take your self-serving ways, your hypocricy and LIES back to A.Z., you're not wanted and you're NOT worthy of us!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I love how McCain said that he doesn't think that Obama shares Wright's extreme views then goes on to say, "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."
Talk about Double Speak!
So he doesn't think Obama shares Wright's views but then implies that he thinks Obama shares Wright's views?????
Watch the media brush this under the rug because Hagee is white!
No Country for Old Men!