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In Rejecting Pastor, McCain Takes Swipe at Obama


From CBS News' John Bentley:

Calling his statements "crazy and unacceptable," John McCain strongly repudiated Texas pastor John Hagee, after the televangelist insinuated Hitler helped the Jews reach the promised land. "Obviously, I find these remarks and others deeply offensive and indefensible," McCain said. "I did not know of them before Rev. Hagee's endorsement, and I feel I must reject his endorsement as well."

CBS News has learned that one of the reasons that McCain distanced himself from Hagee today was that the San Antonio minister was preparing to withdraw his endorsement. "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," Hagee said in a statement issued shortly after McCain repudiated his endorsement. "I have therefore decided to withdraw my endorsement of Sen. McCain for president effective today, and to remove myself from any active role in the 2008 campaign."

But McCain wasn't finished rejecting endorsements from ministers. He also repudiated Rev. Rod Parsley, and Ohio preacher who had made derogatory comments about Muslims, calling Islam "an anti-Christ religion that intends through violence to conquer the world."

"I believe there is no place for that kind of dialogue in America, and I believe that even though he endorsed me, and I didn't endorse him, the fact is that I repudiate such talk," McCain said in an interview with the Associated Press. "I reject his endorsement."

While distancing himself from the two ministers, McCain also took a shot at Barack Obama, and the controversy surrounding his pastor. "I didn't attend their church for 20 years," McCain said, referring to Obama's relationship with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. "I'm not a member of their church." Obama had also referred to Wright as his spiritual mentor, but has since distanced himself from him. "My church I attend is North Phoenix Baptist Church, my pastor and spiritual guide is Pastor Dan Yeary," McCain said. "I've never been to Pastor Hagee's church or Pastor Parsley's church."

Obama responded by saying that the Rev. Wright did not speak for him. "John McCain is having going to have to deal with Hagee, who said stuff that is mind boggling," Obama said. "I don't attribute those statements to John McCain. Nobody thinks that McCain believes that stuff. And for McCain to then suggest that every single statement that was made by somebody somehow attributable to me, is just wrong."