John Sidney McCain III, 71, is considered a "maverick" in most Republican circles, having earned the reputation for his firey personality and his willingness to cross the aisle and side with Democrats on specific issues to forward legislation he considers important.
McCain has essentially had two careers: first as a Naval officer and then as a politician. He earned fame as a POW in Vietnam, and when it became apparent he was not going to make admiral like his father and grandfather, he entered politics.
McCain married model Carol Shepp in 1965, after she was divorced from her first husband, one of McCain's classmates at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. McCain adopted her two children from that marriage and the couple had one daughter of their own. In 1980, he divorced Shepp one month before marrying his second and current wife, Cindy Hensley. He is step-father to her four children.
Campaign Finance Reform:
Campaign finance reform is one of McCain's top political issues. He was widely criticized by his fellow Republicans for a bill he co-authored with Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin. Despite the criticism, the bill passed by a skinny margin in 2002 with strong bi-partisan support.
The Gun Owners of America accused him of switching from being anti-gun-control to now being a gun-control advocate. His rating from the National Rifle Assocation is a C+, but he was supportive of the Supreme Court's ruling in favor of individual gun rights in the case of DC v. Heller. "For this first time in the history of our Republic, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms was and is an individual right as intended by our Founding Fathers," McCain said.
A former prisoner of war in Vietnam, McCain is opposed to any kind of torture and believes in strictly upholding the Geneva Convention treaty, which outlines the treatment of wartime detainees, like the ones being held at Guantanamo Bay. He has advocated vocally for all presidents to ensure detainees are not tortued in any way under any circumstances.
Like his Senate predecessor Barry Goldwater, McCain is a firm believer in states' rights -- even when it comes to the issue of gay marriage and civil unions. He does, however, support domestic partnerships, which in some states have the same legal recognition as civil unions or marriage.
McCain is a pro-life Republican, who believes a women should have the choice to have an abortion performed when she has been raped, is the victim of incest or when the the pregnancy threatens her life.
Stem Cell Research:
Although he at one time opposed stem cell research, he now supports it, believing it will continue with or without US support.