Jul 2, 5:30 PM (ET)
By BETH FOUHY
CARTAGENA, Colombia (AP) - John McCain denied a Republican colleague's claim that he roughed up an associate of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega on a diplomatic mission in 1987, saying the allegation was "simply not true."
Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., told a Mississippi newspaper that he saw McCain, during a trip to Nicaragua led by former Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan., grab an Ortega associate by his shirt collar and lift him out of his chair.
The Republican presidential contender, who is known for his hot temper, was questioned about the alleged incident at a news conference Wednesday here. He noted that at the time, he had been asked to co-chair a Central American working group in the Senate with Democrat Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and had made several trips to the region in that role.
"I had many, many meetings with the Sandinistas," McCain said. "I must say, I did not admire the Sandinistas much. But there was never anything of that nature. It just didn't happen."
(AP) Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., left, shakes hands with sea port...
His comments did not square with Cochran's detailed recollection of the alleged incident.
"McCain was down at the end of the table and we were talking to the head of the guerrilla group here at this end of the table and I don't know what attracted my attention," Cochran said in an interview with The Sun Herald in Biloxi, Miss. "But I saw some kind of quick movement at the bottom of the table and I looked down there and John had reached over and grabbed this guy by the shirt collar and had snatched him up like he was throwing him up out of the chair to tell him what he thought about him or whatever ...
"I don't know what he was telling him but I thought, 'Good grief, everybody around here has got guns and we were there on a diplomatic mission.' I don't know what had happened to provoke John, but he obviously got mad at the guy ... and he just reached over there and snatched ... him."