McCain Calls Female Lobbyist 'Friend'

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Responding to a story in The New York Times that questioned his ties to a female lobbyist, Sen. John McCain told reporters at a news conference Thursday that the woman was just a friend. He denied doing anything improper.

STEVE INSKEEP, host:

Now, Senator John McCain has gone most of the way to the Republican nomination not primarily through his fundraising but because of his reputation. And this morning a central part of that reputation, a reputation for integrity, is under attack.

The New York Times published a story questioning the senator's past ties to a female lobbyist. McCain quickly responded this morning.

Senator JOHN McCAIN (Republican, Arizona; Presidential Candidate): At no time have I ever done anything that would betray the public trust nor make a decision which in any way would not be in the public interest and would favor any one or any organization.

INSKEEP: Speaking to reporters in Ohio, the senator describes the lobbyist as a, quote, "friend." He affirms he wrote letters to a regulatory agency that was making a decision affecting one of the lobbyist's clients. With his wife beside him, though, McCain denied having a romantic relationship or doing anything improper.

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