May 22nd, 2008
04:51 PM ET
15 years ago

McCain officially rejects Hagee endorsement

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[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Pastor John Hagee endorsed McCain earlier this year."](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)

Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (275 Responses)
  1. Teresa L. Berger

    Why didn't he reject Pat Buchanan and his racist statements yet? Why didn't the main stream media reject these statements either?

    May 22, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  2. Mission Not Accomplished

    Obama needs to brush up on his math need 2210 delegates to win. There are 50 states in America, not 48. SD's aren't America's voices and they should not be counted until after America has voted and chosed their candidate. The popular vote is America's choice not the promised position votes. And a little lesson that I learned at 5 years old. Cheaters never prosper.

    May 22, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  3. Karin

    Hahaha. I think this is funny. Hagge and Parsley are KNOWN for their stance on multi-cultural issues. You don't have to go to their church or have them as your spiritual advisor for 20 years to know that they are fear-mongerers full of hate-speech. I knew that and I've never been to one of their sermons!!

    May 22, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  4. Daniel, Loganville. Ga.

    This three ring circus is driving me crazy

    May 22, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  5. Ralph

    Too little too late. There is no new news on Hagee to justify this move, unlike with Rev Wright and his media blitz. So what could have moved McCain to do this after proclaiming Hagee has a right to his opinion. Hear that? It's the sound of an old-school polition flip-flopping. "I did not know of them before Reverend Hagee's endorsement ..." Paleeze, and when you found out a month ago and did nothing, I want to know, what happened to your integrity – I think you've lost what little you had left.

    May 22, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  6. Emma

    IAM SO SICK OF DOUBLE STANDARDS. Why isn't someone looping the Hagee comments on You-Tube? Senator McCain went and sought the support of Hagee................doesn't this go toward Senator McCain's leadership? How can you go on your hands and knees seeking the support of someone like Hagee and you don't bother to find out if there are skeletons?

    If you are as smart as Liberman claims, then why didn't you know about Hagee comments and why is Senator Liberman willing to support you after the rampage of Hagee against Jews?

    Senator Liberman, are you so interested in becoming a Republican and Vice President that you would sell out your own people?

    May 22, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  7. Filipina

    McCain you heard of karma?? That's what got you lol.

    May 22, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  8. gg

    Well, that restores confidence in a man who admits that he seeks out endorsements from people without knowing what their views are. Following his recent discovery that his campaign staff ws full of lobbyists. No one seems to be home in McCain's skull.
    McCain admits he is old – that he doesn't know anything abou the economy, doesn't know the views of people from whom he seeks support, doesn't know the backgrounds of people he employs, made propoganda statements for the North Vietnamese, and is too busy raising money to vote on support for the troops.
    Perhaps the GOP will change their mind about their nominee by September.

    May 22, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  9. Pat in Cali

    You don't have to dig up a clip on youtube to hear Hagee's rants. He's on national television multiple times a week and on cable.

    If McCain did not know about Hagee, then he's really out of touch.

    May 22, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  10. Julie

    The headline says that he rejects Hagee's endorsement, but he was not quoted as saying that. He just repudiated the comments. And what a whimp he is to drag Obama into this. This is about HIM and HIS Pastor. He is so much like his granddaughter, Hillary Clinton.

    May 22, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  11. Yakima

    I don't believe that John McLame didn't know how his pastor was. So I really think that we need to question his relationship with this pastor.

    May 22, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  12. sonofdy

    Anyone who buys Obamas rejection of his preacher, I have one word for you, SUCKER!!!!

    May 22, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  13. tidho

    Rejecting an endorsement...what an idiotic concept.

    I understand candidates have to be politically correct but you can't reject an endorsement. A wacky pastor likes him – so what? If you don't agree with the pastor then (and givn that with Rev. Wright it has to be adressed) just say so.

    The idea that you don't want the support of someone because you disagree with them is just dumb.

    May 22, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  14. lol

    it"s not like mccain chose to listen to the guy spew venom for over 2 decades, like obama did with rev. wright. for a harvard grad obama couldn't pick up on rev. wrights hatred, until he was sinking in the polls and had to throw him under the bus, with his "typical" white grammy.

    May 22, 2008 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  15. EC

    HA HA HA HA -

    Where's the irony in this joke? Sen. McCain has been getting a FREE RIDE with his own dirt. Like his endorsement from Rev. Hagee and Parsley.

    Talk about DAMAGE CONTROL....

    John McCain is trying to clean up the skeletons in his closet.


    May 22, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  16. New Day

    This is fun but meaningless. We all have friends that have morally questionable views. Who cares??? Let's stop acting like we're gods and lets move on to real issues.

    May 22, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  17. 60 YO white female , Springfield, VA

    Instead of looking at what all these "pastors" are saying, look at the politicians !
    Bush claims to beleive in Jesus Christ, yet do his actions show he is following the teachings of Jesus Christ?
    An unjust war that is killing millions and costing billions !
    Siding with big business, and not caring about the middle income and poor !
    KATRINA ? People die while waiting for help !
    Trailors to live in that are unsafe and could cause them to get cancer later in life?
    Etc, etc, etc....

    May 22, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  18. Jan

    There is no comparison of this joker and the vindictive Mr Wright. McCain did not sit in his pew for 20 yrs listening to anti-American rants and Hagee is not his mentor and "uncle". Do not even try to equate the two.

    May 22, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  19. Bri in Charlottesville, VA

    McCain is full of crap. The American population certainly isn't as stupid as he thinks we are to fall for this nonsense.

    May 22, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  20. Mimi De La Cruz for OBAMA

    O YEA,




    May 22, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  21. Verna

    I realize the media bias. When it was reverend Wright, it was all on the network.

    John McKain seeked Hagee's endorsement, now it suits him to reject it. Hagee did not beg him for anything.
    McBush is a hypocrite!
    The wheels are falling off the straight talk express!



    May 22, 2008 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  22. chuck

    WHAT TOOK HIM SO LONG?!?!?! – Jeez – It has been there forever. If it takes McSame this long to brief public information, how long is it going to take MCSAME to brief or analyze SENSITIVE U.S. STRAGIES AND INTEL? No JUDAIC vote for MCSANE , NO ISLAMIC VOTE for MCSANE. AND NO CATHOLIC VOTE for MCSANE .


    May 22, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  23. Ethan

    Jeez, he can't even do pandering well. How on Earth did he earn the GOP nom? But seriously. Judgment much? This oughta be a fun General campaign for Barack. McBush is making things easy.

    May 22, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  24. Mike from Westchester

    Wow this sound very familiar

    May 22, 2008 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  25. Jeremy

    Anyone who uses the term "McBush" shows their ignorance before anything else is said. Yes he is a republican as is Bush. And yes he has SOME similar policies. But truth be told you couldn't have two more distant policies within a same party. Read about it before you begin spewing your venom through ignorant name-calling and CHILDISH terms such as McBush. Same goes for Billary, Hussein Obama, etc. The ignorance on these boards is troubling since the same childish, venomous people are voting for our next leader. You are sad Americans. Debate respectfully otherwise you like like a pompous ignoramous. Tisk tisk...

    May 22, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
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