The White House has accused The New York Times newspaper of regularly trying to "drop a bombshell" against Republican presidential nominees.

Deputy Press Secretary Scott Stanzel made the comment Friday when asked about a Times story that alleged Republican presidential front-runner John McCain had an inappropriate relationship with a female lobbyist and suggested he helped push legislation that benefited her clients.

McCain rejected the newspaper story.

In other news, Democratic Party presidential hopeful Senator Hillary Clinton said she and her campaign are heartsick over the death of a police officer killed in a motorcycle accident while escorting the senator's motorcade in Texas Friday.

Clinton is in Texas ahead of a primary there March 4. She is hoping to do well in that contest, as well as one in Ohio, to stop the momentum of Senator Barack Obama, after his 11 straight victories in nominating contests.

Clinton and Obama faced off Thursday in a debate at the University of Texas in Austin, agreeing on policy issues such as immigration, health care and the war in Iraq. But they differed over who was more prepared to become president and when they would hold talks with a new leader of Cuba.

Clinton was booed when she said Obama's message was not, in her words, "change you can believe in, it's change you can Xerox," referring to Obama using lines from another politician without crediting the source. Obama dismissed the charge as silly, saying he used the words of one of his national co-chairs at his suggestion.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.