John Sidney McCain III (born August 29, 1936)
John McCain is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican presidential nominee in the 2008 United States election.
John McCain was born on August 29, 1936 at Coco Solo Naval Air Station in the Panama Canal Zone, to naval officer John S. McCain, Jr. (1911–1981) and Roberta (Wright) McCain (b. 1912). At that time, the Panama Canal was under U.S. control.
McCain's family tree includes Scots-Irish and English ancestors. His father and his paternal grandfather, John S. McCain, Sr., both became four-star United States Navy admirals. His family, including his older sister Sandy and younger brother Joe, followed his father to various naval postings in the United States and the Pacific. Altogether, he attended about 20 schools.
In 1951, the family settled in Northern Virginia, and McCain attended Episcopal High School, a private preparatory boarding school in Alexandria. He excelled at wrestling and graduated in 1954.
Following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, McCain entered the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis. There, he was a friend and informal leader for many of his classmates, and sometimes stood up for targets of bullying. He also became a lightweight boxer. McCain came into conflict with higher-ranking personnel, and he did not always obey the rules, which contributed to a low class rank (894 of 899), despite a high IQ. He did well in academic subjects that interested him, such as literature and history, but studied only enough to pass subjects he struggled with, such as mathematics. McCain graduated in 1958.
McCain followed his father and grandfather, both four-star admirals, into the United States Navy, graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1958. He became a naval aviator, flying ground-attack aircraft from aircraft carriers. During the Vietnam War, he was almost killed in the 1967 USS Forrestal fire. In October 1967, while on a bombing mission over Hanoi, he was shot down, seriously injured, and captured by the North Vietnamese. He was a prisoner of war until 1973. McCain experienced episodes of torture, and refused an out-of-sequence early repatriation offer. His war wounds left him with lifelong physical limitations.
He retired from the Navy as a captain in 1981 and moved to Arizona, where he entered politics. Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1982, he served two terms, and was then elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986, winning re-election easily four times, most recently in 2010. While generally adhering to conservative principles, McCain at times has had a media reputation as a "maverick" for his willingness to disagree with his party on certain issues.
After being investigated and largely exonerated in a political influence scandal of the 1980s as a member of the Keating Five, he made campaign finance reform one of his signature concerns, which eventually led to the passage of the McCain-Feingold Act in 2002. He is also known for his work towards restoring diplomatic relations with Vietnam in the 1990s, and for his belief that the war in Iraq should be fought to a successful conclusion. McCain has chaired the Senate Commerce Committee, opposed spending that he considered to be pork barrel, and played a key role in alleviating a crisis over judicial nominations.
McCain ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000 but lost a heated primary season contest to George W. Bush. He secured the nomination in 2008 after coming back from early reversals, but lost to Democratic candidate Barack Obama in the general election. He subsequently adopted more orthodox conservative stances and attitudes and largely opposed actions of the Obama administration.