(CNN) – John McCain says he never acted inappropriately toward a one time associate of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, contradicting a recent claim made by one of the Arizona senator's Republican colleagues.
Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran told his hometown newspaper earlier this week that during a 1987 trip to Central America, he personally witnessed McCain grab an Ortega associate by his shirt collar to lift him out of a chair.
"McCain was down at the end of the table and we were talking to the head of the guerrilla group here at this end of the table and I don't know what attracted my attention," Cochran told The Sun Herald of Biloxi, Mississippi. "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," Cochran added.
Speaking to reporters in Colombia Wednesday, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee flatly denied the report, calling it "simply not true."
"I had many, many meetings with the Sandinistas," McCain said. "I must say, I did not admire the Sandinistas much. But there was never anything of that nature. It just didn't happen."
McCain has long faced criticism for his at-times hot temper, and he has especially clashed with Cochran over a variety of spending projects. The Mississippi Republican endorsed Mitt Romney's presidential bid last year and told the Boston Globe that "The thought of [McCain] being president sends a cold chill down my spine."
"He is erratic. He is hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me," Cochran told the paper in January.