In an interview on NPR’s Fresh Air on Monday, host Terri Gross asked former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan if controversial pastor John Hagee had “much sway within the Bush administration.” In response, McClellan said Hagee was just “one of a number of evangelical pastors, social conservative” that “had a heavy influence on some of the White House policies.”
Pressed by Gross about Hagee’s specific influence, McClellan acknowledged that “yes,” he “certainly had some influence“:
GROSS: So Pastor Hagee was influential within the Bush administration?
Mr. McCLELLAN: I’d say he was one of a number that certainly had some influence and was able to quickly get someone on the phone at the White House. So yes.
Hagee, whose endorsement Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was forced to reject after audio surfaced of him saying that Hitler was fulfilling God’s will, has a long history with President Bush. As Sarah Posner has reported, when he was first running for president, Bush “enlisted Hagee to recruit other pastors to sign on to the Bush campaign effort.”
In fact, Hagee became such an enthusiastic Bush booster that he endorsed him in 2000 by writing a book titled God’s Candidate for America. According to Posner, Hagee was “unequivocal” in the book “that Jesus would vote for Bush“:
Despite accusing Bush Sr. of collaboration with the Antichrist, Hagee delivered for George W. Bush in his 2000 book, God’s Candidate for America. In that book, Hagee was unequivocal that Jesus would vote for Bush. “If you are concerned about the sort of America your children and grandchildren will grow up within,” Hagee wrote, “then you need to cast your vote for George W. Bush and the Republican Party.”
It appears that, according to McClellan, Hagee’s efforts paid off and Bush rewarded him by giving him “sway” in the White House.