Sen. Joe Lieberman on Controversial McCain Backer John Hagee

This is a rush transcript from "America's Election HQ," May 13, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

MEGYN KELLY, CO-HOST: Controversial McCain supporter televangelist John Hagee, apologizing today to Catholics for his cutting remarks about the Roman Catholic faith which included calling the Catholic Church, quote, "the great whore."

Video: Watch Megyn's interview

Moments ago, McCain responding to the reconciliation.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The fact that he has made an apology, I think, is very helpful. Whenever someone apologizes for something they did wrong, then I think that's a laudable thing to do.


KELLY: Well, the head of the Catholic League accepted that apology, by the way

In Connecticut, Joe Lieberman, also a McCain supporter, joins us now. Good evening, Senator.

SEN. JOE LIEBERMAN, I-CONN., MCCAIN SUPPORTER: Good evening, Megyn. Good to be with you.

KELLY: It's great to have you again. I want to ask you about this Hagee thing before we get to the environment because this is you know, the late-breaking news of the day. The DNC already came out with a response to this saying, this is insufficient. They want McCain to do more. Let me show you what they said.

They say, "Unless John McCain's idea of being a new kind of Republican includes cozying up to radicals who compare women to dogs, hold racially insensitive fundraisers, and call one of the worst natural disasters in our country's history God's punishment, he should renounce John Hagee's endorsement immediately." They don't seem prepared to let this die. Where do you think it stands? How do we go forward on this?

LIEBERMAN: Well, look, I think that the DNC is obviously doing this because they said Pastor Hagee is some kind of response to Rev. Wright for Sen. Obama, but I don't think that's fair. The basic way that everyone has already said which was that John McCain never went to Pastor Hagee's church. He accepted his endorsement.

He represents a lot of people in this country, particularly Christians who care about the state of Israel. He founded a group called Christians United for Israel. The statements that were brought out that he had made about the Catholic Church were a total surprise to me. I know that Sen. McCain they were obviously reprehensible.

And I give Pastor Hagee a lot of credit for just plain apologizing. And I must say there is a difference because Rev. Wright never did apologize. He just restated the objectionable and reprehensible things he had said.

KELLY: OK. Let's move on to the substantive issues, and that is climate change. John McCain has been out speaking about global warming, something that is music to the ears of a lot of independents and some Republicans. But there are a lot of Republicans and a lot of conservatives who don't want to hear this, and they say he is not helping himself in the general election. How do you respond?

LIEBERMAN: Well, this is John. This is John McCain. He is going to always do what he thinks is right. And I think his support of strong American leadership to do something about global warming says a couple of things about him. The first is that he is a different kind of Republican. He is a Teddy Roosevelt Republican.

I mean, clearly, when he first came out to do something about global warming and he and I joined together on a bill about five years ago, it meant that he stood up against President Bush and against a majority of members of his own party. But he thought it was right and of course I agree with him.

Secondly, he's not an ideological. He listens, he learns. If he sees there's a problem, he's going to work across party lines to solve the problem, and that's the kind of president we need.

KELLY: Sen. Joe Lieberman, thanks so much for your thoughts on it.

LIEBERMAN: Thank you, Megyn. Good evening.

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