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. Hillary supporter

    If Hillary doesn't win against McCain, we'll vote for McCain.

    May 22, 2008 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  2. Richard T. Brady

    Yet again, another too little too late from ol' Johnie.

    May 22, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  3. NNS

    McCain actively sought the endorsement of Haggee. He appeared with McCain in front of cameras, but now he wants to reject him. What a phony!!! What the other pastor who endorsed him, Parsley? McCain is such a hypocrite !!

    Clinton supporters, I hope you do some careful thinking into McCain before you choose him over Obama. Vote on the issues, not a popularity contest.

    Lastly, I blame the media for not covering McCain's pastor problems. They focused on Wright for most of 2 months, but McCain has more then one controversial pastor and it rarely gets mentioned.

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


    May 22, 2008 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  5. Casey

    McCain, the truth shall set you free. but since you have chosen to lie lie lie to the American public for political correctness, you will be made to give us a speech on religious tolerance, I wonder how that will turn out.

    Hagee please respond, and I am sure Hagee will because He is such a proud man and will not shy aways from this McCain betrayal.

    May 22, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  6. Bill

    Mission Not Accomplished May 22nd, 2008 4:03 pm ET

    Obama needs to brush up on his math skills…you 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.

    Hillary, is that you?

    May 22, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  7. Mark Johnson

    Poor McBush. He can't figure out why his clothes smell just like he's been sleeping with pigs. Yell at the cloud, old man.

    May 22, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  8. Anita - AZ

    Didn't McCain seek Hagge's endorsement, now he doesn't want it. Man, I'm getting dizzie from all the flip floppin.... WOO HOOO what a ride.

    May 22, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  9. Republican for Obama

    This man is the king of flip flops.

    He is ten times worse then Kerry.

    Hero or not he is a flip flop artist.

    May 22, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  10. Chris, Middletown, CT

    Every candidate has to have their own Rev Wright.....I don't think it reflects badly on McCain....nor Obama....if they acted on it – then it would...but just because you hang around with a loser – doesn't make you one....although..Hillary does hang with are exceptions to that "rule"

    May 22, 2008 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  11. We are human beings

    Has anyone seen the documentary "Zeitgeist"? To all voters: please watch this before you vote. Some of us have known all along how the U.S. Government works, but this is a must see if you are still undecided on who should lead the country. The information is there, but it's up to you to to make the right decision.

    escape the fear.

    May 22, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  12. Champion for Christ

    As a long-term admirer of McCain, someone who regarded him as a hero and a man who stood for what believed I am disenchanted by what he has become. A man who gave up everything that he held sacred to be" all things to all men". He says his situation is not like Obama's. I went to Liberty Universityand I had good things from the pulpit and some that made me cringe. Did Jerry say things I disagreed with... Yes. Did I ever leave his church and/or university. It was my family, the man was more than the things he said. He tackled us at football games, he lifted us when we were down and thus we stayed despite the circumstances. McCain... you sir, sought to speak at Liberty, you sir... sought Hagee's endorsement. You sir... chose to take the christian for a ride, get the votes and then run... but forgot we are not perfect, we are fallen, forgiven by grace and while we make mistakes we seek be better people. Yes... you have been caught trying to lie to get the votes, hang out with the Christians... now you know they come with baggage too. Man up... say what you wanted and were going to go any lenght to get. You have, now you don't know what to do with it.

    May 22, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  13. TF

    This is totally awsome!!

    May 22, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  14. Earl

    I really think we should be talking abour the REAL issues. Not race ,sex, age, height , weight, religion etc.

    Please stick to the issues, i.e., war, oil, healthcare, gov. financial health, childcare, jobs education etc.

    STAY ON TASK!!!!

    May 22, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  15. Kobs

    Hi looks like he is dropping everyone around hom before even the serious business begins. Let him get rid of all the neo-cons or should I say brave as he is, just as patroitic, do us a "favour and give it up fo Barak"
    The other day when it was said his straight talk bus was losing bearings then finally wheels (will) he caught fire.

    May 22, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  16. TC in Ohio

    My my my...chickens are coming home to roost with McCain. What comes around goes around. What a cheap shot mentioning Wright it doesn't compare whether you were in the church or took the endorsement knowing what the man was about. At least Obama kept Wright away from his campaign. McCain your situation is worse! Stop shifting blame for your malarky. Straight Talk Express? More like a hot mess express.

    May 22, 2008 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  17. michael Hartsdale new york

    McCain needs the conservative base but he is no fool...
    this stops the bleeding immediately...and their is no close
    personal relationship between McCain and Hagee while
    there certainly was between Obama and Wright.,.
    quote from the NY Times this morning from a rabbi in
    Florida paraphrasingn": the future of the US for the next
    four years will be determined by a few old jews sitting
    around the pool at century village"...Obama has a big
    problem in the elderly jewish community and its
    not going away because once they hear the knock
    on him they will not easily change their minds..they will
    as one old jewish lady said "vote for mr mccain"

    May 22, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  18. Debbie,NJ

    So did Hagee reject McCain or did McCain reject Hagee?.

    May 22, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |

    Anyone know who Hillary's spiritual adviser is? Let's dig up some dirt on them too and call it even. We don't want to be sexist on this issue!

    May 22, 2008 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  20. RB

    Poor John. Does he know who he is anymore?

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

    Oh yeah! It's OK to be buds until everyone tells you what a complete idiot your endorser is. McCain should have told Hagee to take a hike earlier.

    Bad scene for McCain.

    May 22, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  22. Dave in Denver

    I'm an independent voter in Colorado. I'm shocked after reading some of the vile and hate filled statements coming mainly from Obama supporters. I thought that he was the candidate that was suppose to unite, but his supports appear to be just the opposite.

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

    McCain is lying! McCain is lying! I had no idea so many clairvoyant's are Obama supporters. It's surprising you can't see Obama losing the election in November.

    May 22, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  24. K of TX

    It was infuriating to me to hear Jeremiah Wright over and over on the news. It was like the media, despite Barack Obama's adamant rejection of Wright's political views and social commentary, chose to embellish the political link between the to of them. All the while, Pastor Hagee has been kept in the background. Well, it's about time the media decided to balance the coverage of these to two controversial figures. I wonder if it will be as in-depth or last as long...

    May 22, 2008 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  25. The elephant in the room

    Judgement is the question on hand not how many years you've known Hagee. You sought after a man's endorsement to whom's outrageous position you did not know? This is irresponsible no matter how u slice it. The same way people dont believe Obama didnt know that Rev Wright said certain things. Are we 2 believe u never knew Hagee's well known history that is well documented. Like u said to Obama, we dont belive u share these same values as Hagee but it shows a lack of judgement.

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