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Celebrities, politicians react to Billy Graham’s death

Celebrities and politicians are reacting to the news of the death of Rev. Bill Graham.

>> Read more trending news 

Known around the world, the evangelist preached to millions of people into his mid-90s. He died at his Montreat, North Carolina, home Wednesday at 99 years old. He had been battling cancer, pneumonia and a number of other health aliments.

>> Live coverage at WSOCTV.com

Graham was frequently seen among U.S. presidents -- a dozen of whom he worked with as a spiritual counselor.

Related: Photos: Billy Graham was counselor to presidents

Public figures responded to the news of Graham’s death on Twitter.

Billy Graham-Richard Nixon tapes: The one time Graham’s image was tarnished

As Americans mourn the death of evangelist Billy Graham, you would be hard-pressed to find a time where “America’s Pastor” was held in anything other than the highest regard. Graham managed during 60 years of preaching the Gospel to sidestep even a hint of scandal -- sexual, financial or otherwise. However a revelation in 1994 of a conversation he had with then-President Richard Nixon turned out to be a source of embarrassment for Graham – not at the time it was disclosed by Nixon Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman, but years later when a tape of the conversation was released by the National Archives.>> Read more trending news

At first, Graham denied comments Haldeman made in his book, "The Haldeman Diaries" that Graham and Nixon had disparaged Jews in a conversation following a prayer breakfast in Washington D.C. on Feb. 1, 1972. Haldeman said Graham had talked about a Jewish “stranglehold” on the country. ''Those are not my words," Graham said in May 1994. ''I have never talked publicly or privately about the Jewish people, including conversations with President Nixon, except in the most positive terms.'' Graham was believed and the matter dropped until 2002 when tapes from Nixon’s White House were released by the National Archives. The 1972 conversation between Nixon and Graham was among those tapes, and Graham had to face the fact that he had been recorded saying the things of which Haldeman accused him. The tapes proved damning. ''They're the ones putting out the pornographic stuff,'' Graham had said to Nixon. The Jewish ''stranglehold has got to be broken or the country's going down the drain,'' he continued. Graham told Nixon that Jews did not know his true feelings about them.  ''I go and I keep friends with Mr. Rosenthal (A.M. Rosenthal) at The New York Times and people of that sort, you know. And all -- I mean, not all the Jews, but a lot of the Jews are great friends of mine, they swarm around me and are friendly to me because they know that I'm friendly with Israel. But they don't know how I really feel about what they are doing to this country. And I have no power, no way to handle them, but I would stand up if under proper circumstances.'' Rosenthal was the Times' executive editor. After the release of the tapes, Graham was horrified, according to Grant Wacker, a Duke Divinity School professor who wrote a book about Graham. He publicly apologized and asked for forgiveness from Jewish leaders in the country. "He did not spin it. He did not try to justify it," Wacker told NPR. "He said repeatedly he had done wrong, and he was sorry." ''I don't ever recall having those feelings about any group, especially the Jews, and I certainly do not have them now,'' Graham said in 2002 when the tape was released. ''My remarks did not reflect my love for the Jewish people. I humbly ask the Jewish community to reflect on my actions on behalf of Jews over the years that contradict my words in the Oval Office that day.''

Photos: Billy Graham was counselor to presidents

Billy Graham worked as a spiritual counselor to numerous U.S. presidents. Here are photos of the late reverend with some of them.

Photos: Billy Graham through the years

Photos: 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics - Day 13

Check out the latest action from the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter games.

Billy Graham quotes: He made Christian principles accessible to millions

Evangelist Billy Graham died Wednesday at age 99 at his North Carolina home.

Graham, who preached Christianity to millions around the world, was also a confidant of U.S. presidents from Dwight Eisenhower to George W. Bush.

Here are some quotes from the man who became known as “America’s Pastor.”  

  • The greatest legacy one can pass on to one's children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one's life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.
  • Each life is made up of mistakes and learning, waiting and growing, practicing patience and being persistent.
  • No matter how prepared you think you are for the death of a loved one, it still comes as a shock, and it still hurts very deeply.
  • Believers, look up - take courage. The angels are nearer than you think.
  • Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion - it is a daily process whereby you grow to be more and more like Christ.
  • When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost.
  • My home is in Heaven. I'm just traveling through this world.
  • Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.
  • God has given us two hands, one to receive with and the other to give with.
  • A child who is allowed to be disrespectful to his parents will not have true respect for anyone.
  • God proved His love on the Cross. When Christ hung, and bled, and died, it was God saying to the world, ’I love you.’
  • I've read the last page of the Bible. It's all going to turn out all right.
  • God will prepare everything for our perfect happiness in heaven, and if it takes my dog being there, I believe he'll be there.
  • Nothing can bring a real sense of security into the home except true love.

Source: Brainy Quotes

Florida beach named nation's best in TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice awards

A Florida beach has been named the nation's best in TripAdvisor's annual Travelers' Choice awards.

>> See the full rankings here

The travel website announced Tuesday that Clearwater Beach was the best in the U.S. in 2018, climbing from No. 4 in 2017. The beach also topped the national list in 2016. 

>> Read more trending news 

Meanwhile, Grace Bay in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos, took the award for the best beach worldwide.

>> Click here or scroll down to see which other beaches made the lists

Evangelist Billy Graham dies at 99

Famed evangelist the Rev. Billy Graham, who counseled several presidents and preached to millions of people worldwide, died Wednesday, according to the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. He was 99.

READ MORE: Photos: Billy Graham through the yearsPhotos: Notable deaths 2018Billy Graham quotes: He made Christian principles accessible to millionsBilly Graham named among 10 most admired men for 59th timeMORE 

Photos: Notable deaths 2018

How did 'average' skier Elizabeth Swaney make it to the 2018 Winter Olympics?

One skier who competed in the women's halfpipe at the 2018 Winter Olympics really stood out – but not for her skills.

>> Watch her halfpipe run here

>> Visit WPXI.com for complete coverage of the 2018 Winter Olympics

American Elizabeth Swaney, a member of Hungary's team who finished in last place Monday after a qualifying run that Deadspin described as "thoroughly average," apparently was able to game the Olympics' quota system to get to Pyeongchang. She also met another requirement – cracking the top 30 at a World Cup event – because many of those events featured fewer than 30 competitors.

>> All the curling stones used in every Olympics have come from the same small island

“The field is not that deep in the women’s pipe, and she went to every World Cup, where there were only 24, 25 or 28 women,” International Ski Federation judge Steele Spence told the Denver Post. “She would compete in them consistently over the last couple years, and sometimes girls would crash so she would not end up dead last."

>> Read more trending news 

The 33-year-old from California was able to snag a spot on Hungary's team instead of the more competitive U.S. team because her grandparents are Hungarian, Deadspin reported. She also skied for Venezuela, where her mother is from, in World Cup events.

>> Mikaela Shiffrin of Team USA wins Olympic gold medal in women's giant slalom

In Pyeongchang, Swaney didn't attempt any fancy tricks and finished last – but she didn't fall.

"It is an honor to compete at the Olympics, and I am really excited to compete among other amazing women from across the world," Swaney said, according to Reuters.

She added: "I hope this can be a platform to inspire others."

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