McCain Denies Roughing Up Sandinista Official in ’80s

July 11, 2008

U.S. presidential candidate John McCain denies a Republican colleague’s claim that he aggressively confronted an associate of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega during a 1987 diplomatic visit to Managua.

McCain, the presumptive Republican candidate, told reporters last week while on a trip in Colombia that the alleged incident “just didn’t happen,” though he acknowledged, “I must say, I did not admire the Sandinistas very much.”

McCain’s response came to Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran’s comment to a Mississippi reporter that he saw McCain grab an Ortega associate by the shirt and lift him out of his chair during a diplomatic visit to Nicaragua near the end of the war.

Cochran, who has referred to McCain as “hotheaded,” told the Sun Herald in Biloxi, Mississippi, that the incident occurred during a diplomatic mission in which congressional leaders met in talks with members of the Sandinista government.

“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 … 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,” Cochran told the Sun Herald.

No one from the Sandinista government has commented on the alleged incident more than 20 years ago.

Though Cochran has been vocal about McCain’s hot temper, it hasn’t stopped him from endorsing McCain for president.

Regarding the alleged run-in in Nicaragua, McCain said he had many meetings with the Sandinistas during the ’80s, but that the allegation is “simply not true.”

 

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