"I don't mind a good fight. For reasons known only to God, I've had quite a few tough ones in my life. But I learned an important lesson along the way. In the end, it matters less that you can fight. What you fight for is the real test," said Republican senator John McCain in September 2008 as he officially accepted his party's nomination as candidate for president of the United States.
His fighting talk came from experience. Before entering politics in 1982 Panama-born John Sidney McCain II had an impressive career in the US Navy, where he'd followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, both of whom served as admirals. Captured during the Vietnam War, he was held at notorious Hoa Loa prison dubbed the Hanoi Hilton by US POWs - for six years before being released in 1973, to return home to his first wife Carol and their three children, Douglas, Andrew and Sidney,.
By 1981 he'd retired from the navy and, having parted ways with Carol the previous year, wed former teacher and Arizona heiress Cindy Lou Hensley. The couple relocated to Phoenix in Cindy's home state where the aspiring politician set his sights on becoming a member of congress. In January 1987 he succeeded; being declared Senator for Arizona.
In addition to their political significance, the Eighties were also important personally for the McCains. John and Cindy welcomed three children of their own daughter Meghan in 1984, followed two years later by son John, then James in 1988 and three years later, adopted a three-month-old girl from Bangladesh, whom they named Bridget.
John's 2008 bid for the White House was not his first. In September 1999, the former war hero - whose platform was marked by a belief the Iraq War should be fought to a conclusion, emphasis on campaign finance reform and a restoration of relations with Vietnam - lost out on the Republican nomination to George W Bush.
On April 25, 2007, he announced his intention to run again, saying: "I'm not running for President to be somebody, but to do something." After initially lagging behind former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani in the polls, the Arizona representative, whose successful detainee amendment had led to him being named one of Time
magazine's ten best senators in 2005, bounced back.
With the announcement of Barack Obama's Democratic candidature in June and the September confirmation of his own candidacy which was marked by a groundbreaking choice of VP in female Alaska Governor Sarah Palin the race to the Oval Office was on.