McCain Brags of “Close Relations” With Evangelicals, Hagee

Earlier this week, the New York Times ran an article noting that, after working hard to win the endorsement of controversial pastor John Hagee, both Hagee and McCain ”have been silent about his endorsement.

For his part, McCain tried to distance himself from Hagee’s anti-Catholic views while Hagee seems to have gone on some sort of outreach mission by meeting with Deal Hudson, who said Hagee “seemed genuinely hurt that he was being seen by the nation as anti-Catholic” and working to win over Jewish leaders concerned by his Christian Zionist rhetoric and activities.

While Hagee is busy trying to salvage his reputation and McCain has tried to distance himself from the pastor, it doesn’t mean that McCain isn’t willing to tout Hagee’s endorsement when he thinks it’ll be to his benefit politically, as he did in a recent interview with The Jewish Journal:

McCain also defended his support of the controversial Rev. John Hagee, a staunchly pro-Israel evangelical who has been criticized for his anti-Catholic comments. I asked the senator how he would get pro-Israel evangelicals, who have been staunchly opposed to Israel giving up territory or compromising on the status of Jerusalem, to support any peace agreement.

“You can’t jump ahead here,” he said. “I know they favor a peace process. I know they favor that because of my close relations with them, and pastor John Hagee … is one of the leaders of the pro-Israel-evangelical movement in America.”

I started to correct him — Hagee and other evangelicals most certainly don’t support compromise on territory or Jerusalem, and McCain must know this. That’s when I got my first taste of the famous McCain technique: I’ll-talk-so-you-can’t.

“Look,” he cut me off, “I just have to tell you that we should be so grateful for the support of the evangelical movement for the state of Israel, given the influence that they have, beneficial influence that they have over millions of Americans, and then we’ll worry about a peace process later on, but I know that they are committed to peace between Palestinians and Israelis as well.”