Senator John McCain (R-AZ) (C) talks to reporters on his way to the Senate floor at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Oct. 12, 2013.
Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

John McCain: Hitler comparison was ‘gross exaggeration’

Updated

Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, conceded Sunday that he went too far when he compared President Obama’s handshake with Cuban leader Raul Castro to one between former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler.

The 77-year-old senator told Candy Crowley on CNN’s “State of the Union” that his original comments were a “gross exaggeration” of reality and were “over the top.”

McCain said Tuesday in an interview with Public Radio International that the handshake between Obama and Castro would be a boon for Cuba’s “dictatorial brutal regime” and then harkened back to the precipitating events of WWII. 

As msnbc’s Benjy Sarlin wrote Tuesday, McCain has greeted multiple leaders with checkered human rights records in the name of diplomacy and decorum.

Before brushing off further inquiries from Crowley over the comparison, McCain said, “I don’t think you should shake hands with someone who continues to violate his own country’s human rights,” he said. “It happened but it is what it is.”

The Ed Show, 12/10/13, 6:42 PM ET

John McCain crosses the line, again

Earning the title of Ed Schultz’s Pretender, failed Presidential candidate Sen. John McCain makes a cringe-worthy comparison after Pres. Obama’s trip to Africa.

John McCain

John McCain: Hitler comparison was 'gross exaggeration'

Updated