Appearing on Fox News’s Hannity and Colmes last night, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich defended Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) ties to radical pastor John Hagee, who has repeatedly said that Hurricane Katrina was “the curse of God” for a gay-pride parade planned for New Orleans later that week. Hagee has also called the Catholic Church “the Great Whore” and a “false cult system.”
Host Alan Colmes pressed Gingrich on whether McCain — who said just last Sunday that he was “glad to have” Hagee’s endorsement — should repudiate the pastor for his homophobic suggestion about Katrina. Gingrich completely ignored Hagee’s anti-gay remarks to say that McCain has sufficiently rejected Hagee’s anti-Catholic remarks:
COLMES: John Hagee just told Dennis Prager on his radio show that New Orleans was cursed because they were about to hold a gay pride parade. He has already bad-mouthed the Catholic Church. He has called it the great whore, anti-Christ and things like that. Should we make sure that John McCain repudiates that to a greater extent?
GINGRICH: Let me point out, when this came up, questions were raised for Senator McCain. He was very clear. He repudiates any anti-Catholicism. He repudiates any kind of vicious comments. And McCain was quite clear about it. … So I think, Alan, you are grabbing at straws here. … I think McCain should be clear that he disagrees with statements of anti-Catholicism.
Gingrich tried to say that McCain was taking “the Ronald Reagan position” that “people get to endorse me. I’m not endorsing them.” Yet, as Colmes pointed out, McCain actively sought Hagee’s endorsement. Moreover, McCain has been anything but “very clear” on his views of Hagee, first distancing himself, then defending Hagee, then flip-flopping within a matter of seconds.
In the past, Gingrich has been similarly cavalier about homophobia. In an interview with right-winger John Lofton, Gingrich said “you have to” believe “homosexuality is a sin,” adding, “I think that if you believe the Bible then it’s fairly clear.” Though he said he didn’t “want to be judgmental about others,” Gingrich stated he opposes the right of gay people to marry or adopt children — an extreme position, considering that only one state, Florida, bans all forms of gay adoption.