Don Imus returned to radio this week, eight months after he was taken off the air.
(CNN) - As Don Imus ended his exile from the airwaves Monday, presidential candidates rushed to welcome him back - contenders Sens. John McCain, R-Arizona, and Chris Dodd, D-Connecticut, both called in to his first show. Tuesday morning, Republican Mike Huckabee and Democrat Bill Richardson will both be guests by phone.
Earlier this year, McCain and Huckabee both called for forgiveness in the wake of the Imus scandal.
"He's continued to have me on his show when I said stupid things," the former Arkansas governor told USA Today. "What Imus said was wrong, but he seems genuinely sorry. He's certainly not the first celebrity to put his foot in his mouth - and he won't be the last."
On Monday, presidential contenders seemed ready to forgive and forget. McCain ended his interview by telling Imus, “Welcome back, old friend.” Later, Dodd echoed the sentiment: “Welcome home.”
A Richardson spokesman told CNN Monday that while “the governor was upset” over Imus’ comments, he believes “this is a country of second chances.”
Richardson was a frequent guest and occasional sparring partner of Imus on his previous show. The radio host has a ranch in New Mexico, where Richardson is governor.
Campaign spokesman Tom Reynolds said Imus’ staff reached out to the candidate to return to the show, adding that “Imus has pledged to use his position to discuss race and sensitive issues in a more delicate manner.”
Other candidates, like former New York City mayor and Republican contender Rudy Giuliani, have signaled their willingness to be interviewed by Imus.
But some, like Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, may be less forgiving. "The comments of Don Imus were divisive, hurtful and offensive to Americans of all backgrounds," Obama told USA Today earlier this year. "With a public platform comes a trust. As far as I'm concerned, he violated that trust."
- CNN Political Desk Managing Editor Steve Brusk