Did U.S. Republican presidential candidate John McCain vote for President George W. Bush in 2000?

Liberal Internet blogger Arianna Huffington says McCain told her he did not. But the Arizona senator says he did vote for Bush, a fellow Republican, in 2000 and campaigned for him all over the country after his own attempt to win the party’s nomination failed.

The claims and counterclaims may provide an entertaining distraction from the day-to-day battle for votes for this November’s presidential election, when McCain will face one of two Democratic contenders, Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton.

But Huffington said in an interview the dust-up over the item she posted on her Web site earlier this week has broader meaning than whether or not McCain voted for his rival in the 2000 race for the Republican nomination.

“It’s John McCain’s relationship with the truth that’s at stake here. It’s not John McCain’s relationship with me,” Huffington said.

She said on The Huffington Post — www.huffingtonpost.com — this week that McCain told her at a dinner party shortly after the 2000 election that he did not vote for Bush.

A New York Times story about the spat noted other guests at the party said they also heard McCain’s comments.

McCain says it never happened and he was loyal to Bush.

“I voted for Bush in 2000 and 2004,” he said in an interview with Fox News’ “O’Reilly Factor” that aired on Thursday night.

“And not only that, far more important than a vote, I campaigned everywhere in America for him,” McCain said. “I enjoyed it. I campaigned with him. I did everything I could to get him elected and re-elected president.”

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