McCain Loses Cool With NY Times Reporter

By Jennifer Parker

Mar 7, 2008 12:44pm

ABC News’ Bret Hovell Reports: Senator John McCain grew agitated Friday with a New York Times reporter who asked about his 2004 conversation with then-Democratic nominee John Kerry about McCain possibly running as Kerry’s vice presidential nominee.

Watch the VIDEO HERE.

McCain was addressing reporters on his campaign plane flying between Atlanta and New Orleans. He had just come from a town hall style meeting in Atlanta, where he was asked by a member of the audience whether he might consider Kerry as his vice president, the way Kerry had considered McCain.

"No. No," McCain said in the town hall meeting. “We have very vastly different philosophical fundamental political views. I respect those views. I respect them, I just totally disagree with them.”

McCain continued: “When I was approached, when we had that conversation back in 2004, I mean that’s why I never even considered such a thing.”

On the plane, the Times’ Elisabeth Bumiller, asked McCain about that meeting, quoting a 2004 story in which McCain said the meeting hadn’t taken place. McCain responded forcefully, his displeasure on display, but never raising his voice, telling Bumiller: “there is no living American in Washington” who doesn’t know about that meeting. 

Bumiller pressed on, and McCain insisted that she knew of the meeting as well.

“You know it too. You know it. So I don’t even know why you ask.”

The back and forth went on for nearly two minutes before Bumiller asked a question on another topic. At that point, McCain resumed his more typical demeanor.

The following is an ABC News transcript of the conversation:

New York Times correspondent Elisabeth Bumiller: Senator can I ask you about Senator Kerry. I just went back and looked at our story, the Times story, and you told Sheryl Stolberg that you had never had a conversation with Kerry about being, about Vice President –

John McCain: Everybody knows that I had a private conversation. Everybody knows that. That I had a conversation. There’s no living American in Washington –

EB: Okay.

McCain: – that knows that, there’s no one.

EB: Okay

McCain: And you know it too. You know it. You know it. So I don’t even know why you ask.

EB: Well I ask because I just read –-

McCain: You do know it. You do know it.

EB: Because I just read in the Times in May of ’04 you said.

McCain: I don’t know what you may have read or heard of, I don’t know the circumstances. Maybe in May of 04 I hadn’t had the conversation –

EB: But do you recall the conversation?

McCain: I don’t know, but it’s well known that I had the conversation. It is absolutely well known by everyone. So do you have a question on another issue?

EB: Well can I ask you when the conversation was?

McCain: No. Nope, because the issue is closed as far as I’m concerned. Everybody knows it. Everybody knows it in America.

EB: Can you describe the conversation?

McCain: Pardon me.

EB: Can you describe the conversation?

McCain: No, of course not. I don’t describe private conversations.

EB: Okay. Can I ask you –

McCain: Why should I? Then there’s no such thing as a private conversation. Is there (inaudible) if you have a private conversation with someone, and then they come and tell you. I don’t know that that’s a private conversation. I think that’s a public conversation.

EB. Okay. Can I ask you about your (pause) Why you’re so angry?

McCain: Pardon me?

EB: Nevermind, nevermind.

McCain: I mean it’s well known. Everybody knows. It’s been well chronicled a thousand times. John Kerry asked if I would consider being his running mate.

EB: Right.

McCain: And I said categorically no, under no circumstances. That’s all very well known.

EB: Okay, let me ask you… (moves on to another question.)

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