Early in Senator John McCain’s first run for the White House eight years ago, waves of anxiety swept through his small circle of advisers.
A female lobbyist had been turning up with him at fund-raisers, visiting his offices and accompanying him on a client’s corporate jet. Convinced the relationship had become romantic, some of his top advisers intervened to protect the candidate from himself — instructing staff members to block the woman’s access, privately warning her away and repeatedly confronting him, several people involved in the campaign said on the condition of anonymity.
Both the woman, Vicki Iseman, and John McCain deny any romantic relationship. The New York Times piece needed to be published, but not this way. The Washington Post covers the same story in a fairer way; they don't make an insinuation of a romantic relationship based merely on the suspicions of some staffers.
Having said that, McCain's posture here is not going to hold. His statement:
It is a shame that the New York Times has lowered its standards to engage in a hit and run smear campaign. John McCain has a 24-year record of serving our country with honor and integrity. He has never violated the public trust, never done favors for special interests or lobbyists, and he will not allow a smear campaign to distract from the issues at stake in this election.
Americans are sick and tired of this kind of gutter politics, and there is nothing in this story to suggest that John McCain has ever violated the principles that have guided his career.
He's going to have to answer legitimate questions: what was the nature and extent of their relationship? Did he discuss legislative matters with her? Did he intervene with regulators at her request? The straight-talker is not going to be able to pull off a stonewall.