May 22nd, 2008
04:51 PM ET
14 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. Jewish Voter

    All I have to says is...., WOW. But I will not judge McCain on the Pastors words.

    May 22, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  2. Jim, Minneapolis

    Why don't we hear more about Hagee? We hear all this nonsense about 2 minutes of Wright's lifetime. Meanwhile, Hagee's been a windbag of totally ridiculous hateful, anti-Catholic, sexist, racist rhetoric for years. Now McCain says he's not friends. Right. In the meantime, McCain was a member of Keating Five. He also pushes forward unethical land deals for his friend Donald Diamond. He has continually misused his power in the Senate. He also votes against Veterans' Benefits. He's consistently told us that he wants to continue war in the middle east. I think November's choice is clear. Vote Obama.

    May 22, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  3. Jim Jones

    Goes to show.... African Americans arent the only ones with crazy, stab u in the back, while your not looking pastors

    May 22, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  4. AJ, IL

    How can McCain's camp actively pursue Hagee's endorsement for nearly a year and finally get it, and then repudiate his endorsement within two months? McCain just officially lost the evangelical vote and with it any real chance at the presidency!

    Obama in 08!

    May 22, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  5. What if?

    Yea, right...and jack jumped over the moon.

    May 22, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  6. Clear Picture


    May 22, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  7. Nancy

    BLAH, BLAH, BLAH, Give it up McCain. The smart Obama people just won't be led into the crap you are flinging. Go home and take a nap. I wonder how long it will take the Republicans and Clinton supporters to realize they are being duped. WAKE UP!!!

    May 22, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  8. I reject McCain, Louisville,KY

    Well about freakin time....

    May 22, 2008 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  9. ohn Oswald

    Yet another flip flop.

    McCain BEGGED Hagee for his endorsement, thinking it would make him look good with the Christian wing-nut faction.
    He is already on record saying that Hagee represents his values.
    Now, when those "chickens come home to roost", he wants out.

    May 22, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  10. Pat in Cali

    Obama has Wright, who insulted all of America, McCain has Hagee, who insulted Catholics and Jews, and Hillary has Bill, who insults everybody's intelligence.

    Let's move on to some real issues. How much is a gallon of gas today?

    May 22, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  11. Raz

    He should get Hillary as VP. My Vote goes to Obama. If Hillary gets the nomination than I'll vote to McCain. Because there is no differance.


    May 22, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  12. Double standards !!!

    I wonder if McSame will get the same grilling like Barack.

    I doubt it.

    Obama 08'/12'

    May 22, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  13. real dem

    Too little too late you hypocrite!

    May 22, 2008 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  14. john tibbets

    OBAMA equals more govt control , higher taxes, lenient judges that help the criminal, gay marriages, terrible health insurance. His best bet is for white house butler. His wife would be a great white house maid.

    May 22, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  15. Jeremy

    also, this guy endorsed McCain on his own free will. On the other hand Obama for 20 years chose to sit in the pews of this violent un-American piece of garbage in Wright. And again if you are so ignorant to think that A) he jsut started this style of preaching this year and/or B) Hagee and Wright situations are similar you truly are as ignorant as someone using the childish terms McBush, Billary etc.

    May 22, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  16. Generation X

    TO ALL THE FORMER HILLARY SUPPORTERS NOW MCCAIN- How dare you new candidates pastor's remarks. I would NEVER sit in a church that spews this garbage. McCain should be ashamed, I WILL NEVER VOTE FOR MCCAIN!

    PS- I wasn't going to vote for him anyway!

    May 22, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  17. Matt

    You've got to be kidding me. CNN uncovers remarks made over ten years ago by a pastor who was never John McCain's pastor and now it's front page news?

    I expect better from this network. I turn to CNN to escape the sensationalist journalism that dominates other markets. I don't turn hear to read about stuff like this.

    Can we focus on the candidates and the issues instead of suffering through articles that defame and slander people (like Hagee and Wright) who aren't even running for office?

    Please. I'm tired of people covering politics as if it were yet another episode in a reality television series.

    May 22, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |

    what about McCain's recruiting Rod Parsley's ? How come only Good Morning America is the only one that reports this.

    May 22, 2008 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  19. Jennifer - American in Canada

    Pathetic. Why draw a parallel with Sen Obama? This repudiation is for political reasons only.....everyone can see this coming.

    May 22, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  20. David, Santa Rosa, CA

    I would be surprised if Sen. Obama used this against McCain, however, it really doesn't matter. There are real issues, directly attributable to Sen McCain, which Obama can address.

    To blame a candidate, or attribute comments to a candidate who's supporter may be out of step or who are saying outrageous things is wrong. CNN, FOX, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, even Charlie Rose and Jim Lehrer are playing an active and nurturing role in this nonsense and it needs to stop.

    We are finally demanding change in Washington DC. Our next huge hurdle will be to demand change from the media. They need to be hit in the pocket books. I would suggest we pay attention to the advertisers and then address concerns about the media to them. Otherwise, this "National Enquirer" mentality amongst mainstream meda will continue.

    May 22, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  21. whybuffetmatters

    Wow!!! So much for the right wing fundamentalists!!! Sad for McCain trying to put Obama into spot light when he sold his soul fundamentalists. Where is Limbaugh? Oh.. he is another right wing monster!!!

    May 22, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  22. H-ROD

    Mccain is gay why else would he go on Ellen, He was playing flipy-floppy in the Hanoi Hilton after aaall he is a FLIP-FLOPER (YES OBAMA CAN)!!!!!!

    May 22, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  23. Drew, Central FL

    Is he going to reject the other "agents of intolerance" too? Let's see if he puts his money where his mouth is. So far he's just been towing the NeoCon line.

    Hagee and people like him are the very root why racism is still such a problem in this country.

    May 22, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  24. Doug

    While Obama shares the views of the man who married him, baptized his children, and whose sermans were a must see for his children each and every Sunday, McCain goes out of his way to speak out against a man who only gave him an endorsement who by the way is also not as hateful as Rev. Wright.

    I like how this overall shows the differences that are the in the hearts of the right and the left. The hateful libs who stand by Obama must support the comments made by Rev. Wright, otherwise they would not support a man who shares his same views.

    May 22, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  25. A.Masabo Canada

    look at his face....too much hate...Pastor,HUH?
    How about MCsame?

    May 22, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
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