U.S. Sen John McCain of Arizona has a maverick style that got him in trouble a year ago with the Republican leadership and he nearly fell into the obscurity of second-tier candidates for president behind fellow Republicans Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney. But McCain's "Straight Talk Express" campaign seemed to be the GOP answer to the public clamor for change.
After wrapping up the GOP nomination fairly early, McCain, ever the maverick, picked a somewhat political unknown for his vice presidential running mate — Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin. Palin became an immediate GOP rock star, then faltered in an interview with CBS anchor Katy Couric that left some wondering if she was up for the job. Palin rebounded during the vice presidential debate with Democrat Joe Biden.
• NEVADA CAUCUS — Although McCain is a senator from neighboring Arizona, his support of establishing the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste in Nevada and his support of a national ban on college sports betting didn't win him much support among Nevada Republicans.
During the Jan. 19 Nevada caucus, McCain finished in third place behind Mitt Romney and Ron Paul, with only 13 percent of the votes. (See stories, videos and blogs.)
• WINNING THE WEST — After the grueling primary battle, a team of Sun journalists took a "Winning the West" road trip in August through the Southwest on the way to the Democratic and Republican national conventions. (See stories, videos, photos and blogs.)
• REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION — Packaging McCain the maverick with Palin the everymom reformer, Republicans hit the campaign trail claiming the theme of change as their own.
As the campaign entered into its final weeks, McCain's theme continues to be that while Obama talks about change, only McCain and Palin have the experience needed to conduct real reform and change in Washington, D.C.