On Oct. 26, 1967, naval pilot John McCain was shot down over Vietnam and was held captive in the Hanoi Hilton. When he was released six years later, he returned to the U.S. and regained his active flight status. He retired from the Navy in 1981 [source: John McCain].
McCain's military experience played a big part in his campaign for president in 2008. It gave him an argument to become commander-in-chief. His military background also appeared to give him the kind of dogged persistence needed during a primary season that defied polls and proved to be the most expensive ever.
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At age 71, McCain would be the oldest person to be sworn in as president in the country's history. This consideration has emerged as a topic of discussion in the media during his campaign. In one interview by Jay Leno on "The Tonight Show," the host mentioned that action-star-turned-conservative-pundit Chuck Norris (a supporter of McCain's former rival Mike Huckabee) said publicly that he thought McCain was too old to be president. "Schwarzenegger is going to take care of him," McCain assured Leno of Norris' fate [source: USA Today].
At the least, California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has come out in McCain's corner. He gave the candidate his endorsement, saying "There are people out there that talk about reaching across the aisle, but [McCain] has shown the action over and over again" [source: Los Angeles Times].
McCain's willingness to shake hands with the Democrats and occasionally vote against party lines has earned him the titles of "consensus-builder" [source: Everett Herald], "straight-shooter" [source: The Guardian], "maverick" [source: Los Angeles Times] and "traitor to the Republican Party" [source: Southern Political Report], among others.
It also makes it difficult to paint McCain with a single brush. He's the only candidate to have engaged in a publicity battle with heiress and socialite Paris Hilton [source: AP]. At a time when even some of his fellow Republicans lost their faith in the war in Iraq, McCain maintained his original stance in favor of it. While he's openly opposed to the use of gray-area torture, like water boarding, he also voted against a ban on its use, citing the CIA need for its use in interrogation [source: IHT]. On the topic of Iran, he spoofed the lyrics of the Beach Boys song, "Barbara Ann" with his own version -- "bomb Iran."
In this article, read about Sen. John S. McCain, his record on the issues and what he plans to do as leader of the United States if he's elected president. Find out more about McCain's life on the next page.