Elizabeth Drew's Nov. 19 op-ed column, which stated that I have been involved in a "whispering campaign" by senators to discredit John McCain and undermine his presidential candidacy, is absolutely false.

I have had the pleasure of working with John McCain for many years and consider both him and his wife good friends. I have the greatest respect for him, and I would not undermine him or his campaign in any way whatever.

DON NICKLES

U.S. Senator (R-Okla.)

Washington

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In her op-ed column, Elizabeth Drew falsely accused me of spreading a "whispering campaign" against my colleague Sen. John McCain. These accusations are reckless, without merit and quite simply, poppycock. Certainly, journalistic integrity would require Ms. Drew to make an effort to inform me of this allegation and to seek a response. She did not.

For the record, John McCain is a good friend for whom I have great respect. Like most Americans, I share his contempt for negative gutter politics and clever "gotcha" journalism--even when it might make terrific copy. Isn't the irony of this story that in the same breath Elizabeth Drew accuses four senators of launching a smear campaign, she launches her own against these senators?

PAUL D. COVERDELL

U.S. Senator (R-Ga.)

Washington