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. Christian, Tampa FL

    Didn't John McCain seek this guy's endorsement?

    May 22, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  2. We republicans will take u down - accomplished

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

    Mission accomplished !

    May 22, 2008 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  3. sacto joe

    So will we now see WEEKS of analysis by the media moguls and a piling-on like we did with Reverend Wright?

    Yeah, right.

    May 22, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  4. JonPeter, Hartford, CT

    There are just too many bigoted loudmouths who use political candidates to publicize warped beliefs. We need to stop giving these people attention, regarless of whether they come from the right or the left.

    Quite frankly neither Rev. Wright nor Pastor Hagee is worth a fraction of the energy spent on them.

    May 22, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  5. robert ga

    VERY convenient, you stood proud and confident with Hagel when you sort a way to get with the evangelicals by accepting his endorsement. What now you don't want the evangelical vote anymore. Oh wait the Jewish vote is now more important.
    or is it for your current fund raiser.
    Give us a break Mccain , even peanut brains know what you are doing.

    May 22, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  6. wycliffe, NJ

    CNN never wanted to report the story until McCAIN rejected it.

    May 22, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  7. robert ga

    i meant Hagee not hagel in my last post.

    May 22, 2008 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  8. Herman in LA

    What good for the gander is good for the goose? It's about time that the media is catching up to McCain. The Maverick will be exposed and come November there will be a clear choice as to who should lead this country in the next 4 / 8 years.

    Obama 08!!!

    VP's – General James L. Jones or General Colin L. Powell

    May 22, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  9. Blabberwitz

    Where do these 'holier than thou' idiots come from?

    May 22, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  10. VAH

    I actually wil watch Fox News and other networks tonight to see what is said about McCain and Hagee since majority of the cable networks were so vocal about the Obama and Reverend Wright issue. I will stay tuned!

    May 22, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  11. Brian from Fort Mill, S.C.

    He also has to renounce, denounce, repudiate, and throw him under the bus. 🙂

    May 22, 2008 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  12. IA Voter

    Nice back handed compliment of Obama old man. "Let me be clear, I did not attend his church for 20 years".... Your mind is starting to wander. Look at how Reagen ended up.....

    May 22, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  13. true demorcrat in monterey ca via memphis tn

    lol looks like mcbushs` " chickens are coming home 2 roost" lol but what a great way 2 bring rev wright (whom i think is insane but does raise some good points but his delivery sucks) back into the fold but he is old news and to be honest i could care less about which pastor endorses whom or blah blah blah, but what i do care about is 3 and 4 tours of duty in iraq or $4.25 (i'm in cali) a gallon for gas, or a womans right of choice i could go on but why you get the point!!!

    May 22, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  14. Obama is a fraud

    Obama supporters will say anything to defend Obama. Hagee is not even McCain pastor. Wright was Obama pastor that he recently threw under the bus. He was Obama mentor\crazy uncle\pastor\baptist his kids and borrow his quote for one of his book. Obama supporters has the nerve to compared Hagee to Wright? Anyone but an empty suit Obama!!

    May 22, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  15. sonofdy

    Okay, lets talk issues, The current congress are so bad that they can't even get a correct copy of a bill moved to the whitehouse. What are obama and mccain going to do about that? Will obama work with the gop if he has a super majority in congress? Will he act on his mentors advice when he is president? Was he also not proud of america before he was nominated?

    May 22, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  16. Venus

    I want to see this subject regarding Mc Cain's pastors on TV 24/7 for the next 3-months! Come on Fox News!

    May 22, 2008 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  17. andrew s

    now sean hannity of foxnews can you please do an investigation on pastor Hagee and please tell the american people that mccain does not have the judgement to lead America. oh i forgot he is white and the media is goning to let it die but we will keep it alive if that what they want the election about

    May 22, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  18. Kelly

    I think Obama supporters should just not comment. At least McCain didn't attend the pastor's church for 20 years and act like he didn't know what the man was about. PLEASE! Plus, there is a pattern with Obama and people he surrounds himself with, including his own wife, that make me question just how much they love being an american. Now McCain, I would never question his love for this country.

    BUT.....Still have no clue who I am going to vote for. So far, all three are horrible choices in my eyes.

    May 22, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  19. Independent voter

    can we all agree that all these pastors are nuts and get back to the real issues at hand.

    1.) how are we going to fix the iraq situation? I dont care who was right or wrong before. what do we do now? WHAT THE HEC DOES VICTORY MEAN? HOW DO YOU QUANTIFY IT?

    2. how are we going to solve the energy crisis? Gas will top $5 dollars a gallon this year I promise you. What happens when it goes to $8 next year?

    3. How can we improve education in america?
    Education = ingenuity = jobs = better economy.

    May 22, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  20. Bill

    McCain actually sought Hagees endorsement which means it is truly he who showed lack of judgement.

    May 22, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  21. Stephen

    why is it that all of a sudden endorsements are more important than credentials?

    May 22, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |

    Iraq, oil,jobs,unemployment, education,foreclosures,foreign relations, economy, value of the dollar,national security, global warming, hurricane katrina victims!

    Who is going to fix this Bush fiasco?! Who cares about what your preacher did or did not do and how long you sat in the pews listening to the sermon.

    May 22, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  23. robert ga

    This sham is now different from you surrounding yourself with Lobbyist and now all of a sudden you are cleaning house because Obama has accused you of dancing with lobbyist.

    Talk about pandering. Oh wait we forget you are the ultimate flip flopper.

    straight talk horse and boggy

    May 22, 2008 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  24. watson

    We're still talking about people's pastors? Still trying to figure out how this affects my grocery bill doubling.

    May 22, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  25. Jeff H

    It's about time McCain did something about this guy, but to be honest, I find his timing on the matter atrocious.

    The ONLY reason this happened today or even this week is because of the increased media pressure. Convenient for sure. Straight Talk –not a chance.

    May 22, 2008 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
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