Not really a surprise. Here's the interview with BeliefNet
Andrew Sullivan remarks on this bit
Beliefnet: A recent poll found that 55 percent of Americans believe the U.S. Constitution establishes a Christian nation. What do you think?
McCain: I would probably have to say yes, that the Constitution established the United States of America as a Christian nation. But I say that in the broadest sense. The lady that holds her lamp beside the golden door doesn't say, "I only welcome Christians." We welcome the poor, the tired, the huddled masses. But when they come here they know that they are in a nation founded on Christian principles.
He says that "in the broadest sense". Nice hedge phrase.
I didn't think that answer was nearly as bad as this one:
Beliefnet: It doesn't seem like a Muslim candidate would do very well, according to that standard.
McCain: I admire the Islam. There's a lot of good principles in it. I think one of the great tragedies of the 21st century is that these forces of evil have perverted what's basically an honorable religion. But, no, I just have to say in all candor that since this nation was founded primarily on Christian principles.... personally, I prefer someone who I know who has a solid grounding in my faith. But that doesn't mean that I'm sure that someone who is Muslim would not make a good president. I don't say that we would rule out under any circumstances someone of a different faith. I just would--I just feel that that's an important part of our qualifications to lead.*
Notice the asterisk. At the bottom of the page there's this addendum:
*McCain contacted Beliefnet after the interview to clarify his remarks: "I would vote for a Muslim if he or she was the candidate best able to lead the country and defend our political values."
Haha! Nice attempt to save, John. At one point I actually liked John McCain. Now I just don't think he can be taken seriously as a candidate. Ah well.