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. LRM

    To him it was just an excuse to bring up Wright again. The whole thing is pathetic. I think this is one year that voters care more about issues than the smear jobs...and to me that means anyone but McCain.

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

    So McCain was for Rev. Hagee before he was against him?

    May 22, 2008 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  3. Video Guy

    Now I am sure not to vote for Senator McCain. I understand him rejecting this fool, but why did he have to make such a point in bring up Pastor Wright and Senator Obama.

    Looks like the Straight Talk Express has lost its bearings.

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


    May 22, 2008 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  5. jeje

    I am independent and OBAMA'S supporter, but i don't know why folks make a big deal about john HAggae endorsement of Mccain. i don't care about Haggae or Rv write comments, what i care is who will be a good president for this country. common folks

    May 22, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  6. sonofdy

    Real issues? The core beliefs and character of a candidate is not an issue? Repeating carefully written, polled and checked talking points is not going to get my vote. I have read obamas web site and find alot of his ideas to be unworkable in the real world. But I am sure the polling company he hired said they are popular with his core supporters.

    May 22, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  7. Dave

    What would be really nice if certain folks on this blog actually read the content of the story instead of just bashing Senator McCain. Just can't see past your hatred, what a sad state of affairs.

    And this from the folks supporting Senator Obama who will "unite" our country – what a world we live in

    May 22, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  8. david

    John McCain needs to reject the other nut job, Parsley. The trio of Hagee, Parsley, and Wright, all nut jobs. What is even more shocking is that they have a cult like following of people who believe their drivel. C'mon McCain, reject the three idiots!

    May 22, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  9. Robert

    Hm. McCain claims he won't employ lobbyists, but his campaign is lousy with 'em, and it takes MONTHS for him to notice (or admit it)?

    He seeks the endorsement of this vicious fantasy-peddler for a year, accepts it warmly, and becomes aware of his views on Catholics and Jews MONTHS after doing so?

    He's either lying, chronically misinformed, or chronically "senior."

    May 22, 2008 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  10. john williams san diego, ca.

    i denounce McCain for his stands against torture, Guantanamo and drilling in Anwar. Furthurmore for his naive stand on amnesty and for believing the leftist cult on global warming...this is an election that has come down to 3 liberals that are in the race for glory and not the American people.

    May 22, 2008 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  11. Oregon

    Notice the lack of moral content in this theology. Everything is based on predictions, instead of what's morally correct. If Rev. Hagee thinks the Bible predicted Jews will return to Israel . . . then he's complimentary toward Adolf Hitler for providing Jews with necessary motivation. Only someone like Rev. Hagee can be complacent about continued internment of 1.3 million Palestinian in refugee camps for the past 40 years. He doesn't care, because he thinks it fits with prophesy.

    Not all people of faith have this mentality. I'm a person of Christian faith, and I detest fundamentalist emphasis on prophesy and end times. I think it diverts attention from questions of right and wrong.

    May 22, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  12. wycliffe, NJ

    McCain should stop removing the speck in Obamas eye and remove the log in his eye.

    May 22, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  13. SamSunny

    McCain wanted Hagee's endorsement, went after it for the sole purpose of trying to gain favor with the Evangelicals. It was a shame relationship all along. He should have been honest and stuck to his own religious background. We don't need more liars and cons in the Whitehouse. He says Obama had a different relationship, and this is true. Obama's relationship was a true ministerial relationship and a true congregate, and therefore, a harder relationship to severe. I believe Obama when he says he knew the Reverened Wright could be controversial, but didn't realize the depth of his hystrionics. But it was an honest relationship and not one of convenience for politics. Yet Obama has been raked over the coals, while McCain is allowed to blow off this phoney relationship as if he weren't trying to pull a fast one on the American electoriate.

    May 22, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  14. We republicans will take u down

    So far, our plan has worked.More than 50% of the hillary supporters will never vote for Obama.

    Mission accomplished !

    May 22, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  15. FEDUP

    Hagee was not McCains mentor/ pastor for twenty years. Big Difference... Blacks are notorious for violence..The Obama-bots are threating to riot if Obama is not the nominee? Either way, there will be riots. Look at the Cowboy celebration that turned to looting. It is to be expected. Why does it always turn to breaking windows and looting? Please explain that to me?

    May 22, 2008 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  16. ej

    It will be interesting if there is a similar request for retraction from Pastor Parsley of Columbus,Ohio regarding his anti Islamic remarks recently noted on the news.

    May 22, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  17. LRM

    silence do good...

    Think you got it backwards...Clinton is the one with the double-talk. Since when has be been blaming Clinton for anything. Kills me how Clinton's supporters that are anti-Obama like to put words in his mouth (not to mention make every story about him).

    May 22, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  18. Media Fairness

    Media ...How about giving this Hagee story the same amount of publicity as Rev. Wright. Play it all and don't just play snippets. Dean is right McCain is an extremely

    May 22, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  19. Mission accomplished

    So far, our plan has worked.More than 50% of the hillary supporters will never vote for Obama.

    Mission accomplished ;Republican for Hillary !

    May 22, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  20. Oh my God

    To Mission Not Accomplished

    Looks like you and Clinton had F on math.
    Clinton is a cheater.

    May 22, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  21. Frank, Missouri

    already ?

    May 22, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  22. VAH

    I challenge the CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and other media outlets to bring this to the forefront like they did Obama and Wright. I guess my challenge would never work because the media has known about Hagee's comments all along but barely made mention of them, at least not nearly as much as Obama's former pastor. Let's see how long this story stays in the news. It probaly will not be in the news tommorrow. I will bet Hannity will be all over Pastor Wright and all of his crazy right wing stuff against Obama to shift the focus back on Obama and off of McCain and Hagee.

    May 22, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  23. Rev Wright is a bigot

    McCain rejected this nut quicker that Obama rejected his own spiritual advisor.

    This guy was not McCains minister. Rev Wright is another story. He was Obamas pastor for 20 years. Anyone who preaches such hatred and anyone who listens to it for 20 years, but more importantly, anyone who takes their 2 kids to listen to such hatred does not deserve to be president

    May 22, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  24. robert roswell, ga

    It is about time this hit prime news!!!!!

    To 'mission not accomplished'. Stop with the New Math. the number is 2024.

    As far as the primary goes there are indeed only 48 states. THEY broke the rules and are getting what they deserve. Deal with it.

    Michigan and Florida will have their votes counted in the General election.
    If you are one of those that threaten 'well I'll just take my vote and go home if I dont get my way'.....................well, I'll get the door for you and dont let the door hit you where the sun dont shine on the way out.

    May 22, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  25. bob in L.A.

    When are adult going to learn how to speak? Everyone claims their word to be taken out of context. These Pastors, Reverends, Politicians and their spouces are highly educated and yet mange to put sentences together that they say are taken out of context.
    It doesn't mater which party or religion, they all need to learn to think before they speak, just like we are all taught in school.

    May 22, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
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