NEW ORLEANS -- Republican Sen. John McCain, showing a flash of the temper he is known for, repeatedly cut off a reporter Friday when asked whether he had spoken to Democratic Sen. John Kerry about being his vice president in 2004.
"Everybody knows that I had a private conversation. Everybody knows that, that I had a conversation," McCain told the reporter. "And you know it, too. No. You know it, too. No. You do know. You do know."
The reporter, Elisabeth Bumiller of The New York Times, was following up on a question McCain had answered at a campaign event Friday morning in Atlanta. Asked if he might consider Kerry as a running mate, since Kerry asked him in 2004, McCain said no.
Afterward, on a campaign flight, Bumiller said she looked in the Times' archives and that McCain had denied talking with Kerry in a May 2004 story.
McCain interrupted, saying that everyone knew he had a private conversation, and he kept interrupting as she tried to follow up. McCain clearly was irate.
"I don't know what you read or heard of, and I don't know the circumstances," McCain said. "Maybe in May of '04 I hadn't had a conversation."
Did he recall the conversation? "I don't know, but it's well-known that I had the conversation. It's absolutely well-known by everyone. So do you have a question on another issue?"
Asked again about the conversation, McCain said, "No. No. Because the issue is closed, as far as I'm concerned. Everybody knows it. Everybody knows it in America."
Could he describe the conversation? "No, of course not," McCain said. "I don't describe private conversations. Why should I? Then there's no such thing as a private conversation."
McCain is known for having a temper and has been dubbed "Senator Hothead" by more than one publication.