Exclusive: Rev. Hagee, in Upcoming NYT , Confirms McCain Sought Endorsement

In an interview that will appear in this Sunday's New York Times Magazine, controversial televangelist Rev. John Hagee declares, "It's true that [John] McCain's campaign sought my endorsement."

McCain has attempted to distance himself from some of Hagee's views, much as Barack Obama is doing in relation to Rev. Jeremiah Wright. But unlike McCain, Obama has not stood on stage with Wright and accepted his accolades this year.

Interviewed by Deborah Solomon, Hagee refused to discuss his statement that Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment for a gay rights parade in New Orleans, now calling it "so far off-base." He claimed, "Our church is not hard against the gay people. Our church teaches what the bible teaches, that it is not a righteous lifestyle. But of course we must love even sinners."

He also said that charges that he had bashed the Catholic Church ("false cult system," etc.) have been "grossly mischaracterized...I was referring to those Christians who ignore the Gospels."

Asked what he thinks of Obama, he answered, "He is going to be difficult to beat, because the man is a master of communication. If he were in the ministry, he would make it in the major leagues overnight."

He denied he had become a strong supporter of Israel because of the coming "Rapture" in the holy land.

Greg Mitchell's new book is So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, the Pundits -- and the President--Failed on Iraq. It has been hailed by Arianna, Bill Moyers, Glenn Greenwald, Bruce Springsteen and others. He is editor of Editor & Publisher.