FROM GUEST-BLOGGER RICK KLEIN, from ABC’s The Note.
Making the rounds in political circles today — in addition to the shake-up inside the McCain campaign — is an account in the Biloxi Sun-Herald where Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., says he witnessed a “physical confrontation” between Sen. John McCain and a Sandinista during a diplomatic mission in 1987.
This is how Cochran described the incident (21 years later — a point worth keeping in mind):
“McCain was down at the end of the table and we were talking to the head of the guerilla group here at this end of the table and I don’t know what attracted my attention," Cochran told the Sun-Herald.
"But 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 to tell him what he thought about him or whatever.”
“I don’t know what he was telling him but I thought, good grief, everybody around here has got guns and we were there on a diplomatic mission. 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."
McCain’s temper is one of those things we all “know” about in this campaign. And he’s had colorful, well-publicized run-ins with at least three fellow senators — Iowa’s Chuck Grassley, Texas’ John Cornyn, and New Mexico’s Pete Domenici — Republicans, all.
I can’t imagine an old, murkily recalled confrontation being a major factor in this campaign. Know also that Cochran, though he’s endorsed McCain, is no fan: He is the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, and McCain — as a long-time, vocal critic of earmarks — has often been his biggest legislative enemy.
In January, Cochran explained his decision to endorse former governor Mitt Romney, R-Mass., thusly: “The thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine,” Cochran told The Boston Globe’s Michael Kranish. “He is erratic. He is hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me."
McCain responded to Cochran’s recollection while in Colombia, per ABC’s Bret Hovell:
“That was 21 years ago. I think, that’s simply not true.”
“I made many many trips, and had many many meetings with the Sandinistas and other leaders of central America. There is no, nothing ever — I must say I did not admire the Sandinistas very much. . .”
– Rick Klein