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VIDEO: McCain Says Jerry Falwell is No Longer an ‘Agent of Intolerance’

By ThinkProgress  

"VIDEO: McCain Says Jerry Falwell is No Longer an ‘Agent of Intolerance’"

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This morning on Meet the Press, Sen. John McCain declared that right-wing Rev. Jerry Falwell is no longer an “agent of intolerance,” as McCain described him in 2000. Watch it:

Transcript:

RUSSERT: Do you believe that Jerry Falwell is still an agent of intolerance?

MCCAIN: No, I don’t. I think that Jerry Falwell can explain to you his views on this program when you have him on.

Back in 2000, when McCain was asked whether he stood by his description of Falwell, he said, “I must not and will not retract anything that I said in that speech at Virginia Beach. It was carefully crafted, it was carefully thought out.” (Hardball, 3/1/00)

UPDATE: Georgia10 has more.

Full transcript below:

MCCAIN: As regards to Rev. Falwell, which is the major thrust of your comments, I met with Rev. Falwell. He came to see me in Washington. We agreed to disagree on certain issues, and we agreed to move forward. I believe that speaking at Liberty University is no different from speaking at the New College or Ohio State University, all of which I’m speaking. I speak at a lot of colleges and universities. I’m pleased to have the opportunity to do so, to talk to young Americans and talk to them about the obligations and the privileges of freedom.

RUSSERT: But, Senator, when you were on here in 2000, I asked you about Jerry Falwell, and this is what you said:

MCCAIN (clip, 3/5/00): Gov. Bush swung far to the right and sought out the base support of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. Those aren’t the ideas that I think are good for the Republican Party.

RUSSERT: Do you think that Jerry Falwell’s ideas are now good for the Republican Party?

MCCAIN: I believe that the “Christian Right” has a major role to play in the Republican Party. One reason is because they’re so active and their followers are. And I believe they have a right to be a part of our party. I don’t have to agree with everything they stand for, nor do I have to agree with everything that’s on the liberal side of the Republican Party. If we have to agree on every issue, we’re not a Republican Party. I believe in open and honest debate. Was I unhappy in the year 2000 that I lost the primary and there were some attacks on me that I thought was unfair? Of course. Should I get over it? Should I serve — can I serve the people of Arizona best by looking back in anger or moving forward?

RUSSERT: Do you believe that Jerry Falwell is still an agent of intolerance?

MCCAIN: No, I don’t. I think that Jerry Falwell can explain how his views on this program when you have him on.

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