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John McCain emphatically denied a romantic relationship with a female telecommunications lobbyist on Thursday and said a report by The New York Times suggesting favoritism for her clients is "not true."

"I'm very disappointed in the article. It's not true," the likely Republican presidential nominee said as his wife, Cindy, stood beside him during a news conference called to address the matter.

"I've served this nation honorably for more than half a century," said McCain, a four-term Arizona senator and former Navy pilot. "At no time have I ever done anything that would betray the public trust."

"I intend to move on," he added.

McCain described the woman in question, lobbyist Vicki Iseman, as a friend.

The newspaper quoted anonymous aides as saying they had urged McCain and Iseman to stay away from each other prior to his failed presidential campaign in 2000. In its own follow-up story, The Washington Post quoted longtime aide John Weaver, who split with McCain last year, as saying he met with lobbyist Iseman and urged her to steer clear of McCain.

Weaver told the Times he arranged the meeting before the 2000 campaign after "a discussion among the campaign leadership" about Iseman.

But McCain said he was unaware of any such conversation, and denied that his aides ever tried to talk to him about his interactions with Iseman.

"I never discussed it with John Weaver. As far as I know, there was no necessity for it," McCain said. "I don't know anything about it," he added. "John Weaver is a friend of mine. He remains a friend of mine. But I certainly didn't know anything of that nature."

His wife also said she was disappointed with the newspaper.

"More importantly, my children and I not only trust my husband, but know that he would never do anything to not only disappoint our family, but disappoint the people of America. He's a man of great character," Cindy McCain said.

The couple smiled throughout the questioning at a Toledo hotel.

The published reports said McCain and Iseman each denied having a romantic relationship. Neither story asserted that there was a romantic relationship and offered no evidence that there was, reporting only that aides worried about the appearance of McCain having close ties to a lobbyist with business before the Senate Commerce Committee on which McCain served.


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