Lieberman confirms he's still speaking to Hagee's group

John McCain rejected Pastor John Hagee's endorsement after remarks Hagee made about Adolf Hitler being sent by God surfaced, but McCain's ally isn't ready to write Hagee off.

By Alex Koppelman
May 29, 2008 1:51AM (UTC)
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Last week, presumptive Republican nominee John McCain rejected the endorsement he'd received from Pastor John Hagee months before. But Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, a self-styled "Independent Democrat" who's one of McCain's staunchest supporters, isn't cutting his ties to Hagee so quickly.

Before the ultimate rejection, McCain had sought, and embraced, Hagee's support. Moreover, he'd attempted to weather the ensuing storm of controversy that developed because of statements Hagee has made, including some that were anti-Catholic and one in which he said Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment against New Orleans. But McCain had no choice in the matter once an old sermon of Hagee's surfaced, showing that the pastor had basically said Adolf Hitler and the Nazis were sent by God to fulfill God's plan and drive the Jews from Europe to Israel. Speaking of the Holocaust, Hagee had said, "How did it happen? Because God allowed it to happen. Why did it happen? Because God said my top priority for the Jewish people is to get them to come back to the land of Israel."


But, as Max Blumenthal reported on Tuesday, Lieberman -- a strong supporter of Israel -- is the scheduled headliner for a July summit organized by Christians United for Israel, which Hagee founded and still chairs. On Wednesday, Lieberman confirmed that he will appear at the summit. In a statement, the senator said:

I believe that Pastor Hagee has made comments that are deeply unacceptable and hurtful. I also believe that a person should be judged on the entire span of his or her life's works. Pastor Hagee has devoted much of his life to fighting anti-Semitism and building bridges between Christians and Jews. The organization that he has helped build, Christians United for Israel, is a vital force in supporting the war against terrorism and defending our ally, Israel. I will go to the CUFI Summit in July and speak to the people who have come to Washington from all over our country to express their support of America and Israel, based on our shared eternal values and our shared contemporary challenges in the war against terrorism. At that conference, I will also make it clear that it is imperative that our language is always respectful and tolerant of all of our fellow citizens.

Hagee has indeed been a supporter of Israel, but that's largely because he believes the country will be the site of Armageddon, which he thinks is imminent.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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2008 Elections Joe Lieberman John Mccain R-ariz.