Republican presidential candidate John McCain has rejected the endorsement of an influential Texas televangelist criticized for his anti-Catholic views.

John Hagee, the Texas preacher, withdrew his endorsement at the same time.

McCain issued a statement after audio surfaced in which Hagee said "God sent Adolf Hitler to help Jews reach the promised land."

McCain said in a statement: "Obviously, I find these remarks and others deeply offensive and indefensible, and I repudiate them. I did not know of them before Reverend Hagee's endorsement, and I feel I must reject his endorsement as well."

Hagee also issued a statement saying he was tired of baseless attacks and he was removing himself from any active role in the 2008 campaign.