John McCain (1936- ) is a senator from the south-western American state of Arizona. He ran for president in 2000 and is running again in the 2008 election. He is a Republican.
In 2000 Bush ran to the right of him and got the vote of the Christian right. Of the top Republican candidates in 2008 Giuliani and Romney are both running to his left, only Huckabee is to the right.
Huckabee cannot begin to match McCain in experience of military and foreign affairs – but then the same was true of Bush in 2000.
Bush won and then made a mess of the war in Iraq. From the very beginning McCain said Bush did not have enough troops. And McCain kept on saying it. It took almost four years for Bush to see his mistake and put in more troops.
McCain is the only one running who has been right about Iraq all along – other than perhaps Obama, who said – before the war – that it was a mistake to go into Iraq in the first place.
McCain’s grandfather was an admiral. He commanded the carriers of the Pacific Ocean during the Second World War. His father was an admiral too. He commanded all the ships of the Pacific during the Vietnam war.
In that war McCain flew jets for the Navy. In October 1967 he was shot down on his way to bomb a power plant in Hanoi. He broke both arms and one leg and fell into enemy hands. He was taken prisoner to the Hanoi Hilton, a hell on earth.
He was a prisoner there for five years. Two of them he spent in a dark cell. Twice he tried to hang himself. The guards saved his life – and then beat him up.
When the North Vietnamese found out who his father was they offered to let him go. He thought about it but said no.
When the war ended he came back home and had to learn to walk again. For a long time he could not raise his arms above his head.
In the early 1980s he retired from the Navy with the rank of captain and stood for office. He was in the House from 1983 to 1987 and in the Senate since then.
Some of the rank and file Republicans do not like him because he sometimes votes against the party. Like on immigration, global warming and campaign finance reform. That is why they call him a maverick.
He is against abortion and same-sex marriage, but he is for stem cell research and for each state making its own laws on marriage (as they have always done).
He divorced his first wife, a model, and married a woman almost half his age. Her father was one of the richest men in Arizona.
The infamous Keating Five once gave him money to stand for office, which is probably why he got religion on campaign finance reform later.