What happens in Estonia stays in Estonia

If Hillary Clinton ends up running against John McCain for the presidency in 2008, the two might vaguely remember competing against each other once before.

That would have been in the summer of 2004 in Estonia where, according to The New York Times, the margin of victory was not votes, but shots of vodka.

The instigator of the after-dinner contest, the Times reported for its Saturday editions, was Clinton, D-N.Y. McCain, R-Ariz., readily agreed.

Aides to McCain did not return messages seeking comment Friday. Philippe Reines, Clinton’s spokesman, played coy.

"What happens in Estonia stays in Estonia," he said Friday evening.

McCain and Clinton have built a close working relationship in the Senate. They both serve on the Armed Services Committee and share interests in subjects such as climate change. Both have cultivated bipartisan images, working across party lines on common interests.

The Times reported that McCain has described Clinton to his colleagues as "one of the guys."

McCain and Clinton were joined in the 2004 trip by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., John Sununu, R-N.H., and Susan Collins, R-Maine.

Until now, the trip was notable because McCain, while in Latvia, called Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko a dictator and said the elections Belarus’ planned for later in the year were "bogus."

At the time, McCain dodged a question about his presidential ambitions.

"I had a very close friend that was a member of the United States House of Representatives and he once said, ‘If you’re a United States senator, unless you’re under indictment or detoxification you can automatically consider yourself a candidate for president of the United States,’" McCain said.

Clinton joined them later that day in Estonia.

Copyright © 2006 The Associated Press