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. bs

    It sure is funny to see all the democrats skittering around like cockroaches trying to make an issue out of this. Two words: NICE TRY!!! Obama is a racist and he's going to lose because of it.

    May 22, 2008 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  2. Joe Ponce

    Dear Sir:
    It would be in the best interest of any candidate to accept any religious endorsement, but simply say that even thou they may back you up. You may disagree with some of their religious points of view. These people have a very strong followings. Remember, while Jesus Christ disagreed with the churches or different beliefs of his time. He never turned his back on anyone. He compromised with love and understanding and his strong conviction in one God and one God only. And until the times comes for everyone. God will always be spiritual and devine. May God Bless everyone and give them the freedom to support whom ever they want.

    May 22, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  3. Tex

    McShame! Mister flip flop himself. What a clown. Just goes to show how age, senility and poor health can do for you mentally.

    May 22, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  4. kim portland, oregon

    mccain doesnt really mean this. he went after hagee's endorsement and once he saw that we wont have that kind of junk, he's all of a sudden denouncing it.

    dont let mccain and the repubs play you for fools ANYMORE!!!!

    May 22, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  5. cody

    Both the Obama and McCain reverend flaps are, in reality, equally irrelevant. However, this won't hurt McCain nearly as much as Obama was hurt.

    May 22, 2008 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  6. Thomas

    Good 'ol John McCain flip flopping again when it's convenient. November '08 is going to be a cake walk...

    May 22, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |

    This comment from MCain is just a taste of what is to come. Just like Hillary, Mcain is going to throw everything at Obama to discredit his campaign for the Presidency. Mcain is just too old to be taken seriously as a president.

    May 22, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  8. Bill

    Funny how CNN isn't probing the McCain rejecton of Hagee more critically. When Obama rejected Wright, they all said it was political however no mention of that here. You telling me this isn't political?

    And how do you like MCain not even showing up to vote on the GI bill because he was at a political fundraiser in California.

    John McCain – No Campaign for Old Men

    May 22, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  9. Jose

    Now, now Mccain you said if the American people want talk about Pastor and Rev that fair game. McCain flip, flop flip , flop nobody knows when he'll stop.

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

    Real issues? Obama better stay well away from real issues because every time he is not on a teleprompter repeating well written, rehearsed and poll tested talking points, he falls apart. But this is his paln for the general election, call every point scored against him, racist, off topic, or not a real issue. Every time I hear this I know this is a point that Obama has screwed up and is trying as hard as he can to avoid.

    May 22, 2008 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  11. A.Masabo Canada

    I'd like to hear what some people have as long as this so called pastor is white?

    May 22, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  12. kingsley

    Let the game begin. Obama got this roaches shook.


    May 22, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  13. Peter

    here we go again, now the Obama supporters start to offend the Mccain supporters.
    Democratic, why and how you deny the achievements we had with President Clinton eight years term? You compare the first and the second Bush administration with President Clinton administration and see the difference.
    Think about the next nominee that have to represent us and you will come up with the answer that we need a second Clinton Presidency to try to adjust the mess we are in.

    May 22, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  14. JJ

    I am more troubled by a politician's solicitation of wackos like Hagee than I am by a candidate's quietly atttending a church led by one of them. Wright did not endorseObama, expected nothing from Obama, and there is no evidence Obama promised him anything. On the other hand, McC spent a year trying to get guys like Hagee (and Parsley) to endorse him, to solidify his credibility with the base – whether he actually went to their church or not. In exchange for the endorsment, and the right wing evangelical votes it brings, politicians promise to do certain things and to allow these wackos to have a say on public policy - including veto power over Supreme Court nominations. Yeah, there is a difference – McC's actions are far worse.

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


    May 22, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  16. Uncle Sam

    For those who insist that Hagee's endorsement of John McCain means that they share similar views, may I remind you that Hamas endorsed Sen. Obama?

    Americans for McCain '08

    May 22, 2008 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  17. USAF Sr. Airman

    Wow. That only took... a few months. Give me a break.

    May 22, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  18. HillarySkank on myspace

    But John, didn't you go out and ask for Hagge's support? This is not the same thing as someone endorsing you when you didn't ask for their help, you sought after Hagge's support. This controversy is nothing new for Hagge. You knew or should have known what kind of a person he was all along. Perhaps now you will shut up about Rev Wright!

    May 22, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  19. Honest Abe

    I also wonder if the media will treat this as they treated the Rev. Wright situation. I doubt it. This guy will do whatever it takes to get what he wants. SOUNDS VERY SIMILAR TO HILLARY.

    What the media should start asking is: Does McCain need Viagra? If Cindy McCain can answer that, then she doesn't need to release her tax returns.

    May 22, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  20. angel

    so the medai is going to let this ride because he is white and a republican

    "you can not have your cake and eat it too"

    May 22, 2008 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  21. Xavier, St. Louis, MO

    McCain and the GOP are only doing this so they can try and use the Rev. Wright episode against Obama, which by the way has played out. Like Rev. Wright, I can careless what Rev. Hagee has to say. What they both have said ain't gonna change our falling economy, foreclosures, war in Iraq, high gas prices and the list goes on and on.
    What I care about is that McCain thinks our economy is okay, which it's not, and we need to stay in Iraq for another 100 years, which would run this country into the next great depression. Just say no to McCain.


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

    Too lat. Every one know McBusy sought this endorsment. he can't backpeddle now!

    May 22, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  23. Willis, Texas



    May 22, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  24. Marie

    Why was there a need for Mr McCain to compare him to Rev Wright, if he says the case is entirely different anyway? Because it makes him "look better"? Think again, McCain.

    May 22, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  25. ABC

    I would love to see a battle between Raging Reverend Wright and Pastor John Hagee in a no-rules, ultimate fighting style match. I would put my money on Pastor John Hagee. They would probably get along good because they are both anti-semites.

    May 22, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
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