Thursday, February 21, 2008

McCain: Lobbyist Did Not Force Me into Positions

Would Not Try Out New Positions at His Age, Mac Says


One day after The New York Times published an article raising ethical questions about Sen. John McCain's dealings with lobbyist Vicki Iseman, the Arizona senator pushed back today at a press conference in Cleveland, telling reporters, “Vicky Iseman did not force me into any positions.”

Calling suggestions that Ms. Iseman could make him assume a different position “ridiculous,” Sen. McCain said, “At my age, I’m not about to try out new positions that I’m uncomfortable with.”

While Mr. McCain was vague about his official dealings with Ms. Iseman, he told reporters, “I would not allow a lobbyist to perform any favor for me unless it felt really, really good."

The Republican frontrunner said that neither he nor Ms. Iseman had been aware that The New York Times was conducting an investigation into their relationship, adding, “Vicki and I have been in the dark together for a long time.”

But he vehemently defended the lobbyist’s professionalism, telling reporters, “Vicki Iseman is an energetic and passionate woman who has bent over backwards to please me.”

Early reaction to Sen. McCains comments was mixed, with some Republicans wondering whether he had done himself more harm than good.

But Mr. McCain did receive high marks from at least one Senate colleague, Sen. Larry Craig (R-Id.).

“I called John today to offer him my encouragement,” Sen. Craig said. I said, ‘It'’s hard, and it’s going to get harder, but stick it out.’

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