McCain denies lobbyist affair, improper conduct
Nick Juliano
Published: Thursday February 21, 2008

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'Disappointed' in NY Times piece; 'It's not true'

Republican presidential candidate John McCain faced the explosion of a long-ticking timebomb Thursday morning when the New York Times revealed allegations of his questionable conduct with a woman who lobbied for the telecommunications industry.

In a 9 a.m. press conference, McCain denied the Times report, saying he was disappointed with the paper of record's handling of the story.

"I'm very disappointed in The New York Times piece," McCain said. "It's not true."

The Arizona Senator flatly denied that he had a romantic relationship with the lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, and he said campaign aides never warned him about speculation the two were having an affair nor intervened to keep her from campaign events.

While he said he was unaware whether aides discussed the alleged relationship amongst themselves, McCain said he never heard the concerns personally. He went on to pan the Times' sourcing of the article.

"I do notice with some interest that it's, quote, 'former aides,' that this whole story is based on anonymous sources. ... I'm very disappointed in that," McCain said.

One former top campaign aide, John Weaver, did speak on the record to the Times and the Washington Post, which produced its own story on McCain and Iseman Thursday.

Weaver told the papers he met Iseman in person at Union Station in Washington, DC, to warn her to stay away from McCain. In his press conference Thursday, McCain said he had not spoken about the Times investigation with Weaver before it was published and he denied knowing about the Union Station meeting.

Right off the bat, McCain was asked about the most salacious implications of the Times article.

Q Senator, did you ever have any meeting with any of your staffers in which they would have intervened to ask you not to see Vicki Iseman or to be concerned about appearances of being too close to a lobbyist? SEN. MCCAIN: No. Q No meeting ever occurred? SEN. MCCAIN: No. Q No staffer was ever concerned about a possible romantic relationship? SEN. MCCAIN: If they were, they didn't communicate that to me. Q Did you ever have such a relationship? SEN. MCCAIN: No.

McCain also acknowledged speaking to Times editor Bill Keller while the paper was reporting its story, but he said he never tried to dissuade him from publishing it.

"I called him up when the investigation was going on and I asked him basically what was happening and that we hoped that we could bring this to closure," McCain said. "But it was a very brief conversation."

At one point, Cindy McCain took to the microphone to share her own criticism of the paper.

"My children and I not only trust my husband but know that he would never do anything to not only disappoint our family, but [to] disappoint the people of America," she said. "He's a man of great character, and I'm very, very disappointed in The New York Times."

This video is from MSNBC, broadcast February 21, 2008.




 
 


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