POLITICS
12/15/2013 02:29 pm ET Updated Dec 15, 2013

John McCain Admits Castro-Hitler Comparison Was 'Gross Exaggeration'

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Sunday that his comparison of President Barack Obama's handshake with Cuban President Raul Castro to one between Adolf Hitler and Neville Chamberlain was a "gross exaggeration."

"I think it was gross exaggeration," McCain said when asked about the comparison by CNN's Candy Crowley. "But have no doubt that was a great propaganda value for the Cuban government, which is oppressive, repressive, continues to jail dissidents and continues to be one of, probably easily, the most repressive governments in our hemisphere."

McCain continued, “I don't think you should shake hands with someone who continues to violate his own country's human rights. It happened but it is what it is.”

Crowley then pressed McCain on whether his statement was "over the top."

"I'm sure it was an exaggeration Candy," McCain replied. "If you want me to plead guilty here on CNN, guilty."

McCain's remarks drew rebuke from White House spokesman Josh Earnest, who addressed the comments during a press briefing last week.

"I think even in the few number of times that I’ve stood at this podium, I’ve been asked about other people who have tried to draw connections between recent political events and the terrible reign of Adolf Hitler," Earnest said. "That is a dangerous and usually unwise thing to do in public."

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