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McCain Comeback Kid

McCain Comeback Kid Political Busy Beaver Button Museum
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McCain Comeback Kid back Political Busy Beaver Button Museum
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McCain The Comeback Kid! 2008 Union bug
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Photograph of McCain on left with red and white text on white, all on dark blue background.

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The 2008 Republican presidential primary was a crowded field with eight candidates vying for the party’s nomination. At the outset, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani was the frontrunner but was quickly beaten back by Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. Huckabee, after winning the Iowa caucus, seemed to have the necessary momentum behind him to win the primary altogether. However, Arizona Senator and wartime hero John McCain picked up speed after winning the New Hampshire primary and ultimately overtook Huckabee to secure the nomination. In September 2008, McCain was officially selected as the party’s presidential candidate at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Initially, the odds appeared stacked against McCain. He failed to raise more money than most of his opponents and trailed in the amount of positive media coverage. Despite these setbacks, McCain was the “dark horse” of the 2008 Republican primary and landed a comeback victory that very few saw coming. Though he went on to compete against his Democratic challenger Barack Obama, he ended up losing the presidential bid and continued to serve as a senator until his death in 2018.


Kenski, H. C. (2011). The 2008 Republican nomination: John McCain as the comeback kid. American Behavioral Scientist, 55(4), 502–514.

Wikipedia. (2020, November 7). 2008 Republican Party presidential primaries.

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