The latest controversy over Pastor John Hagee’s penchant for controversial comments prompted John McCain to issue a statement rejecting the conservative clergyman’s endorsement:
“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 written statement issued by his press office–also getting in a slight dig on Obama and his relationship with his controversial pastor. “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.”
Shortly thereafter Hagee issued his own statement, withdrawing the endorsement:
Ever since I endorsed John McCain for president, people seeking to attack Senator McCain have combed my records for statements they can use for political gain. They have had no qualms about grossly misrepresenting my position on issues most near and dear to my heart if it serves their political ambitions.
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.
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.
Pastor John Hagee