Associated Press

TOLEDO, Ohio -- John McCain says stories suggesting he had an inappropriate relationship with a female lobbyist are "not true."

McCain denies the relationship with Vicki Iseman was romantic and describes her as a friend.

Stories in The New York Times and The Washington Post report that aides were worried about the relationship prior to McCain's failed presidential campaign in 2000 -- specifically, the appearance of McCain having ties to a lobbyist whose clients had business before the Senate Commerce Committee on which McCain served. Iseman is a telecommunications lobbyist.

The Times story quotes anonymous aides saying they urged McCain and Iseman to stay away from each other.

With his wife Cindy by his side, McCain told reporters at a news conference in Ohio that he's "very disappointed" in the Times article. But he says he won't allow it to distract him from his presidential campaign.