Hothead tempers image

WASHINGTON - John McCain, who has fended off criticism that he is too hot-tempered to be an effective president, denied claims by a Republican colleague that he had roughed up an associate of Nicaragua's leftist president two decades ago.

WASHINGTON - John McCain, who has fended off criticism that he is too hot-tempered to be an effective president, denied claims by a Republican colleague that he had roughed up an associate of Nicaragua's leftist president two decades ago.

Republican senator Thad Cochran told a Mississippi newspaper that he saw McCain roughly grab an associate of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and lift him out of his chair during a diplomatic mission to the Central American nation in 1987.

McCain issued a firm and quick denial, saying Cochran's story was "simply not true".

Cochran aide Margaret McPhillips said the senator went into detail in the newspaper to "make the point that, though Senator McCain has had problems with his temper, he has overcome them".

"Decades have passed since then and he wanted to make the point that over the years he has seen Senator McCain mature into an individual who is not only spirited and tenacious but also thoughtful and levelheaded," McPhillips added.

"He believes Senator McCain has developed into the best possible candidate for president."

Meanwhile, Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama stood before a conservative, boisterous University of Colorado crowd and said that the quiet following today's Independence Day celebrations would be a good time for every person to consider how they can contribute "to our most pressing national challenges".

Obama echoed the George Bush "love a neighbour like you'd like to be loved yourself" mantra of the president's political speeches of the past eight years.

But, his campaign said, the focus on service was meant not to recall Bush but to reach back to President John F Kennedy's generation-captivating address that urged Americans to ask what they can do for the US instead of what the US can do for them. - Sapa-AP

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