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McCain: Reports 'Not True'

John and Cindy McCain at a news conference called to address reports of impropriety in his relationship with a female telecommunications lobbyist. (AP).

Updated: 10:27 a.m.
By Glenn Kessler
TOLEDO, Ohio -- Sen. John McCain today denied any impropriety in his relationship with a female telecommunications lobbyist, saying he did not perform any business favors for her and flatly saying he never had a romantic relationship with her.

"It's not true," McCain, 71, said at a press conference called to address a lengthy New York Times article on the relationship. He also said he had no regrets about any actions he may have taken on behalf of the lobbyist's clients, saying they were appropriate.

McCain held the news conference in front of a plain backdrop of three American flags, with his wife, Cindy, by his side. Cindy McCain told reporters she trusts her husband. He "would never do anything to not only disappoint our family" or the American people, she said. "He's a man of great character."

The senator acknowledged that the article could be damaging because it appeared to undercut a central rationale of his campaign -- that he is a maverick not beholden to special interests. "I am very disappointed, obviously," he said. "But we will move on with the campaign. I am confident we will move forward."

McCain, responding to reports in the Times and The Washington Post, also denied that any staff members confronted him about the relationship nine years ago, when he was preparing his first run for the presidency. Both newspapers quoted staff members as saying they had such a discussion with him.

McCain said that if staffers had such concerns, "they did not communicate them to me." He noted that as many as 150 people worked on his staff at the time and that he had no idea who could have spoken to the newspapers.

One of those former staffers, John Weaver, was quoted on the record as saying he had a confrontation with the lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, about her claims of closeness to McCain. But McCain said he did not know of the conversation until he read about it in the newspaper.

Weaver quit McCain's campaign last year when it appeared on the verge of collapse. But McCain said there were no hard feelings and the two men still talk from time to time. "John was a friend of mine and he remains a friend of mine," he said.

McCain, who was chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, said that he considers Iseman "a friend" whom he would bump into a various receptions but that he has not seen her in several months. He said he had had no conversations with her about the pending article, which McCain had known was in the works for months.

"I have many friends who represent various interests," McCain said. "I have meetings with hundreds of them. The question is whether they have access or unwarranted influence. And certainly no one has in the conduct in my public life."

He said he did not try to dissuade the Times from publishing the article but acknowledged having a "very brief conversation" with Bill Keller, executive editor of the Times, asking when the newspaper's reporting would be completed "so we could bring this to closure."

McCain, who showed up for the news conference several minutes early, calmly answered reporters' queries for 17 minutes until there were no more questions. "It does distract," he said of the reports. "It keeps me from talking about the big issues and the not-so-big issues. But hopefully we can get this thing resolved and behind us."

McCain's low-key demeanor stood in contrast to the campaign's initial response when the article appeared on the Times' web site last night. The campaign denounced it as "a hit and run smear campaign," and McCain snuck back into his hotel after a fundraising event to avoid reporters in the hotel lobby.

By Web Politics Editor  |  February 21, 2008; 9:56 AM ET
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Posted by: ibgcfa jushberv | April 16, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

I would also point out that Sen. McCain WAS at least minimally involved in "betray[ing] the public trust" and "favor[ing]" Charles H. Keating, Jr. The investigation into that matter recommended censure for Sen. Cranston and criticized the other four (including McCain) for "questionable conduct".

Posted by: JakeD | February 22, 2008 11:59 AM | Report abuse

The transcript linked to above joined the press conference in progress -- here's some of the missing part:

"Obviously, I'm very disappointed in the article -- it's not true," Mr. McCain said at a morning news conference in Ohio. "At no time have I ever done anything that would betray the public trust or make a decision which in any way would not be in the public interest or would favor anyone or organization."

Posted by: JakeD | February 21, 2008 8:20 PM | Report abuse

As Glenn Kessler points out, above, McCain showed up for the news conference several minutes early and calmly answered reporters' queries for 17 minutes until there were no more questions. Sounds to me like someone with nothing to hide.

Posted by: JakeD | February 21, 2008 6:37 PM | Report abuse

We'll see, JC505.

P.S. to filmex -- thanks for posting that one question and answer -- in case you didn't know, McCain corrected himself two questions later (not just later this afternoon) at that very same press conference:

". . . The New York Times article quotes you having conversations with Bill Keller, the executive editor.

SENATOR MCCAIN: I had one conversation -- I'm sorry, I did have one conversation with him. I -- (let me ?) correct the record. I did have a conversation with Mr. Keller. 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. But it was a very brief conversation.

I apologize for that. I was not trying to dissuade him from -- in any way from doing the story. I know The New York Times. (Laughs.) So I wasn't trying to dissuade him from it."

Posted by: JakeD | February 21, 2008 6:33 PM | Report abuse

JakeD said: "Better for McCain probably that it come out now than October 30th, right?"

Not necessarily.

Having a major ethical flub by the GOP front runner at this early point in the season gives the conservative Christian-right plenty of time to find a viable, "moral" 3rd party candidate and run with him.

And the second (or third or fourth) shoe on this story has not yet dropped. If all we've heard so far is all there is, McCain might recover. Might.

Posted by: JC505 | February 21, 2008 6:25 PM | Report abuse

american1-I also feel an immense hatred of the results of the Invasarios. However, to blame them for what we did-allow them to steal our Construction, Landscaping, Automotive and Services Jobs, is like blaming the Gun for the user's actions.

WE allowed a dysfunctional Congress to ignore the problem of a Million Criminal Employers hiring 15 un-documented Workers. WE, allowed Ninny Peloser to sit on HR:1940, the Birthright Citizenship Act. WE are about to continue allowing all the Caca de Vaca! :-(

OR, we can get our Shotguns out, and FORCE a Marriage between McCain, and Mitt Romney, and Hit McCain over the head with a very large stick, enough times to teach the Mangy Old Dog a new trick. One the Mittster already learned; ENFORCE THE CURRENT AND EXISTING LABOR AND IMMIGRATION LAWS!

As President, McCain is not a Legislator. HE will become the Enforcement arm of the Enforcement of the existing Laws!

Obasama and Billary will definitely be MUCH worse! Can you say "Libbie Judges"? ;~)

Posted by: rat-the | February 21, 2008 5:19 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully the Corrupt old man will retire to Mexico with his Illegal Amigos. Any one that supports Third world Bandito,s that think they can invade this Nation and squat where ever they please and the American tax payer has to take care of them is a piece of feces!

Posted by: american1 | February 21, 2008 5:04 PM | Report abuse


Was that about the time Barack Hussein Obasama was doing impersonations of Michael Irvin?

Making all those "White Lines" Disappear? ;~)

Everyone can take solace in the fact that Barack Hussein Obasama is NOT a Coke Crazed Black.

He is after all Happa Haole, and as such only Half Crazed! :-)

Posted by: rat-the | February 21, 2008 5:00 PM | Report abuse

For those folks who now angrily denounce the story of an alleged extramarital affair with a female lobbyist, let's not forget that he WAS having an extramarital affair with a women years ago...(now his second wife!) while he was married to his first wife. And for those who say he has too much integrity to be influenced by lobbyists, let's not forget McCain was one of the Keating Five. So save your righteous indignation Repubs, it doesn't fly.

Posted by: logcabin1836 | February 21, 2008 4:28 PM | Report abuse

I don't buy McCain's denial and if more people pop up saying that this is true then I think he may be in big trouble.

My feeling is that he is not being truthful.

Posted by: a_wainer | February 21, 2008 4:25 PM | Report abuse

McCain Press Conference Today:

Q: Did you speak to The New York Times? And if so, what did you tell them? And did they ever say that the story was not going to run?

SENATOR MCCAIN: We never tried to have any -- a dialogue in that fashion.

Q But you never tried to dissuade them from running the story in any fashion?

SENATOR MCCAIN: No. In fact, I never spoke directly to them.


Later this afternoon McCain was forced to admit he DID speak directly with the NYT. In fact, he admitted he had direct talks with the managing editor regarding this story.

Sheesh! Johnny, Johnny, Johnny, whatever shall we do with you? Your straight talk is looking like a pretzel.

Posted by: filmex | February 21, 2008 4:11 PM | Report abuse

McCain was smart to get Clinton's bimbo eruption lawyer. Cindy could call Hillary for some help on talking points. I did not have sexual relations with that woman, miss Iseman......

Posted by: barnardj1 | February 21, 2008 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Talk about a Non-News Worthy Story.

The "Treason" Times prints an unsubstantiated Rumor-Based based Story attacking the Republican Front-Runner,


JakeD- Consider the FACT that the two Spoilers al-Huckleberry and Dr. NO are biting into the Conservative Base the Mittster needed to win against Senator McCain. Now, realize that in one of the recent Primaries, Mitt Romney almost outscored al-Huckster-when he is not even Running!, and realize that he will possibly get into the White House as McCain's Running Mate(IF McCain wants a "Brain").
My entire argument all along, was that Senator McCain should have been the VP. It suited him much better. However, I feel that even if they are in the wrong positions, having a Military Mind, and a very astute, conservative, Legal AND Business Mind like Mitt's sharing the Executive Branch, beats the crud out of anything the Congressional Lawyer Dims can ever come up with!

Let it be known, I could strongly support a ticket with McCain and Romney, much more than McCain and a McCain Syncophant. ;~)

Posted by: rat-the | February 21, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

'Not true' can come back to haunt you...

'I did not have sexual relations with that woman.'

Posted by: JiffyMoo | February 21, 2008 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Forget the so-called romantic relationship, since no evidence has surfaced that there were any back then.

However, the blanket denial by McCain raises concerns, especially since a former aide on who worked on his campaign staff was willing to provide some of this information on record. McCain must feel extremely sure that nothing else will come of this story with the blanket denial -- in particular, the one where he mentioned that no one ever intervened in this situation.

I would say that McCain's former campaign staffer has saying lots with a name certain attached to this story, and I don't see why this person in the know (and who could potentially be blackballed in the GOP circles) would be willing to risk the wrath of McCain and GOP supporters.

Posted by: ldsw | February 21, 2008 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, bcurtis. That's what I was trying to convince sonny2 of.

Posted by: JakeD | February 21, 2008 2:46 PM | Report abuse

I do not have a real problem with a bomb-shell story like this coming from a political opponent, that's politics.

However, the newspaper apparently knew about this story at the time they endorsed McCain. That makes it appear to me that the newspaper is trying to rig the election.

Posted by: bcurtis | February 21, 2008 2:31 PM | Report abuse

I don't expect any salicious reports of infidelity being reported about Barack. He wouldn't dare screw up. Within the Obama family, it has probably understood that Michelle could easily jab him blind for about two hours and then coldcock his butt with a right uppercut..

Posted by: soonipi6 | February 21, 2008 2:28 PM | Report abuse

P.S. Conservatives hate the NY Times. Why would a Times endorsement of McCain "get Romney out of the way?" Do you really think Republicans would follow the Times away from Romney and towards McCain? Not likely. Sorry, but that theory simply doesn't hold water.

Posted by: sonny2 | February 21, 2008 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Hmm, a rumor "floating around the internet" vs a McCain staffer ON THE RECORD. I think you just answered your own question.

Posted by: sonny2 | February 21, 2008 2:22 PM | Report abuse

P.S. -- I think it's obvious that ONE motiviation for the NY Times to "endorse" McCain while sitting on the story was to get Romney out of the way -- i.e. they had no similar dirt on Mitt.

Posted by: JakeD | February 21, 2008 2:21 PM | Report abuse

More Power to the New York Times

I know all the neo-cons want the NY Times to be a house organ for the RNC just like Fox News. Turns out that the NY Times is still "guilty" of independent thought and is still beholding to no one. Those facts drive right wingers crazy, but I'm glad the Times is still around to protect our nation from the creeping fascism of the right wing. With all of the silly postings on here, no one can explain why the Times would slander a candidate that they endorsed, and no one can explain how, if the Times made this up, they have former McCain staffers ON THE RECORD about the matter. Sounds like McCain is guilty as charged to me.

Posted by: sonny2 | February 21, 2008 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Actually, I thought that the comment from McCain (if true) that it was inappropriate went to that very "appearance of impropriety" issue, not that McCain was admitting to an affair.

Posted by: JakeD | February 21, 2008 2:08 PM | Report abuse

A lot of people here are missing the point of the story, as McCain himself is. The point is not that McCain had an affair or did anything unethical for lobbyists. The point is that McCain had no problem with having a close relationship with a lobbyist, so close that at least one aide thought there might be a romantic relationship. McCain has such great confidence in his integrity that he saw nothing wrong with this. McCain's response, which is "I have great integrity and there was nothing wrong" is exactly the kind of response you would expect for someone who is overconfident in his integrity, as described in the story.
McCain may be, as he implies, Mr. Integrity himself. But he should act in a way that doesn't create the suspicion that he's not. Hanging out with an attractive female lobbyist, showing up at functions with her, is not the way to do that.
Sometimes, even when you're not doing something wrong, you have to stop yourself and say, wait, how will this be perceived? That's what McCain did not do. And still doesn't seem to get.

Posted by: jonawebb | February 21, 2008 2:03 PM | Report abuse

This article by the NY Times is just further proof that the glory days of the newspaper is far behind them. The more they pull these stunts (on people from both sides of the isle) the more they diminish their reputation and believability. The reputation of the press in this country is a shadow of its former self and if they keep up the decline in their ethics, accuracy and providing unbiased reporting they will be relegated to the margins and mostly ignored, as they will deserve.

Posted by: MikeJ9116 | February 21, 2008 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Typical media smear, but it won't work. Those who support McCain are NOT going to switch over to neophyte ultra-liberal Obama! McCain will win the election if BO is the candidate. The Democrats blow another one, because they are too blind (and stupid) to see. Nor do they know how to put up a winning candidate!

Posted by: amadeus56 | February 21, 2008 1:48 PM | Report abuse


May I ask why you will not vote for McCain?

Posted by: JakeD | February 21, 2008 1:24 PM | Report abuse


Perhaps you missed where McCain was trying to get Obama to keep his pledge and accept public financing of a Presidential campaign for the first time in U.S. history -- that would be a "change" right?

Posted by: JakeD | February 21, 2008 1:23 PM | Report abuse

I will not be voting for John McCain, but I say this is a non-story, a tempest in a teapot. The Washington media chattering class is making, as typical, too much of it.

Posted by: edemes | February 21, 2008 1:20 PM | Report abuse

This just proves what Obama as been saying about the same old Washington players vying to continue running Washington. I don't care if McCain had an affair, Bill Clinton also had an affair and It didn't take him down. Hillary and McCain are too invested in the old ways of Washington, we need real change and only Obama can bring that about. OBAMA 08!

Posted by: lumi21us | February 21, 2008 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Just to be clear, John McCain wrote in his book that he regrets breaking under the POW torture and that he did give the enemy classified information -- not sure if that's "waivering" though -- regardless of whether these 8-year old allegations are true or not, I will definitely vote for McCain before Obama or Hillary.

Posted by: JakeD | February 21, 2008 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Wake up and smell the rose's people. You all act like you have never worked or hung around Capitol Hill.

Lobbyists hang around the halls of the Capitol, Senate and House buildings just to have 5 seconds to try and make a case as the congressman walks from the office to their car.

To say that McCain has had an affair with one of them is retarded and just reinforces the argument that the Hillarites have perpetuated it. As others have stated, probably because they know it's not true. McCain will weather this storm unscathed while it keeps Barak out of the front pages...

I wonder if someone will ever tell Hillary that only those people who are blind to her true nature will ever vote for her.

My vote, come election time, will probably come down to two disappointing choices... either McCain or Barak.... Asked to choose between getting things done the next 4 years or spending 4 years watching pundits talk about party infighting and finally figuring out the Obama machine was all bark and no bite... I think I will go with the one guy who has shown the steadfastness this country truly needs in time of uncertainty. He didn't waiver in the POW camps. He hasn't waivered on his core beliefs while in the Senate and I highly doubt he will bend to special interest or foreign influence when it comes to deciding the best course for this nation into the future.

I hate to say it, but as much as I would have liked to see a power change in DC after the Bush Jr. Debacle these last 7+ years, I believe what the Democrats have to offer is a far cry from what the independent republican leaning folks want to see in terms of experience, and a clear vision of what IS and what IS NOT possible going into the future...

Posted by: LL22102 | February 21, 2008 12:43 PM | Report abuse

"HilLIARy was a friend of mine and she remains a friend of mine," Barak Obama said.

"Andy was a friend of mine and he remains a friend of mine," Roger Clements said.

"John was a friend of mine and he remains a friend of mine," John McClain said.

They were ALL lying.

Stuff DOES come in three's.

Posted by: valskeet | February 21, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse

No one has mentioned that Iseman is basically a younger version of Cindy. Very, very similar looking---so obviously McCain's type.

The romantic angle wasn't reported last night, but must be a conclusion because otherwise the entire relationship doesn't make sense. Why else would a senator would befriend a 40 year old lobbyist, if it isn't romantic or for favors? And why would the staff feel the need to ban her from the office?

Posted by: hillmannic | February 21, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

One of the main issues of the Times' article was that the company that was lobbying McCain gave him plane rides to campaign events on their corporate jet. Was McCain asked about this at the press conference? This article by Mr. Kessler does not say whether he was asked about it or what his answer was. This type of "reporting" is the reason George Bush has been able to get away with crime after crime for seven years.

Posted by: sweetjaysee | February 21, 2008 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Ah, the GOP, the political party of family values; the same party that brought us Senators Vitters and Craig. Will McCain be consumed in the fires of hypocrisy as well? As my late grandmother told me, "We will see, we will see . . . "

Posted by: meldupree | February 21, 2008 12:15 PM | Report abuse


Probably someone from the campaign (a lawyer, most likely) has been in contact with her . . .

Posted by: JakeD | February 21, 2008 11:39 AM | Report abuse


Better for McCain probably that it come out now than October 30th, right?

Posted by: JakeD | February 21, 2008 11:37 AM | Report abuse

"McCain ... said he considers Iseman "a friend" who he would bump into a various receptions but has not seen her in several months. He said he had had no conversations with her about the pending article, which McCain has known was in the works for months."

Hang on a mo. So McCain knew for months that a newspaper article would be accusing his good friend of having an affair with a married man, and he didn't bother warning her?

Not very gallant.

Posted by: bourassa1 | February 21, 2008 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Another angle is that McCain WANTED the story broken now that he's the presumed nominee (rather than as an October surprise, for instance).

Posted by: JakeD | February 21, 2008 11:33 AM | Report abuse

davidmwe said: "This will likely help John McCain ..."

Tweet, tweet, tweet ...

[sound of whistling past the graveyard]

Posted by: JC505 | February 21, 2008 11:32 AM | Report abuse

Two points come immediately to mind:

1. When this story first bubbled up last December, courtesy of Drudge talking of McCain trying to beat down the story, there was no reference of a romantic angle.

Now it appears that while McCain has everlastingly, and loudly (since the Keating 5 dust-up) railed against lobbyists having too much influence, we never knew there was an exception rule for leggy blondes with massage oil and scented candles. :-0

2. We now have had a weeks-old question answered. No one could figure out why Mitt Romney merely "suspended" his campaign instead of calling it quits like every other Earthling (as Shaq would say).

Was it just Mitt being Mitt, or did Mitt have inside information and was thinking there may be a shoe to drop in the future, hence he suspended rather than expelled himself, so he could return to school later should it be required.

And now we know why Huckabee refused to drop out of the race, and why he kept talking about a "miracle" possibly occurring. He obviously reads Drudge~The Daily Miracle, as well.

Posted by: filmex | February 21, 2008 11:30 AM | Report abuse

I concord with those saying this delayed "flash in the pan" story was concocted and/or pushed by agonizing Hillarists desperate to get Obama off the top spot in the daily headlines. So far as Magoo himself is concerned, what about all the good things he's done?

Posted by: filoporquequilo | February 21, 2008 11:29 AM | Report abuse

My guess is any friendship McCain had with a lobbyist probably didn't have anything to do with romance. That part, I believe, is true. But why is this so called independent maverick cozying up to a 40 year old lobbyist in the first place? Doesn't he have enough friends in congress and elsewhere he has to buddy up with someone that has clients out there that want something from him? I mean, my God, where is this guys good judgment?

Posted by: rc53 | February 21, 2008 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Hmmm? Why now? Well...the story does take Obama off the front pages for a few days, going into the Texas and Ohio primaries doesn't it?

Posted by: JStone5740 | February 21, 2008 11:21 AM | Report abuse

At the very least -- giving them the benefit of the doubt for now -- sloppy endorsing by the "Grey Lady" too.

Posted by: JakeD | February 21, 2008 11:13 AM | Report abuse

If ihis is about undue influence of a lobbyist on a supposedly "clean" politician, then why did the NY Times sit on this story until AFTER they endorsed McCain and the other GOP candidates were mathematically eliminated?

Posted by: JakeD | February 21, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse

I agree with ericp331. This isn't - or shouldn't be - about romance. This is about undue influence of a lobbyist on a supposedly "clean" politician. So far, however, there still is no smoking gun, so let's wait and see.

Posted by: Salty1 | February 21, 2008 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Good question, PhilTR. I knew that Romney should have stayed in the race!!!

Posted by: JakeD | February 21, 2008 11:04 AM | Report abuse

McCain cheated on his first wife, why wouldn't he cheat on his second? Even if she is an heiress and her daddy bankrolled McCain's start to his career? As the Republicans always say, character matters, and if we can't trust anything Bill Clinton says, we shouldn't trust anything McCain says either.

Posted by: vfazio | February 21, 2008 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Grandpa McCain gets caught with his pants and ethics down. Remember he cheated on his first wife to get a trophy wife aka "skeletor cindy". After blasting Obama and his wife this is just what he deserves. This is great news and great timing. Look for the emergence of a born again Third Party candidate. The Republicrites are done.

Posted by: philosopherkingtomas | February 21, 2008 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Why is Mr. Obama not undergoing this level of vetting? Why is he being permitted to by-pass this rite of passage?

Posted by: PhilTR | February 21, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Mr. McCain, 71, and the lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, 40, both say they never had a romantic relationship.


Huckabee believes in a miracle..

Will the Republican party defend John McCain?


Posted by: jeffboste | February 21, 2008 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Is true, is not true- who knows.

This will likely help John McCain, that is if there is nothing more to this rumor or no smoking gun. He will need that help against Obama.

Obama vs. McCain- The Google Effect:

Posted by: davidmwe | February 21, 2008 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Why did the NY Times even bother to focus on the "romantic relationship" angle when they can't prove anything?

Isn't it enough that McCain had a close enough working relationship with a telecommunications lobbyist that she was with him far too often for his own good, considering that her clients had business before his committee and he was claiming to be someone who would clean up Washington? That's where the Times should have had their angle.

Sloppy reporting by the "Grey Lady."

Posted by: ericp331 | February 21, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

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