Mrs. Maverick

Shaken by stories about her family and money, Cindy McCain steps carefully into the spotlight. How she prepared for her biggest battle yet

Christopher Morris / VII for TIME

Cindy McCain is sitting by the creek that runs through the McCains' ranch, under a sycamore tree that is equipped with a ceiling fan. The spread near Sedona, Ariz., has served as the family retreat for nearly a quarter-century, and right now, there's a lot to retreat from.

"Look," she says with a deep breath. "I understand what's at stake here and what I have to do. I've opened my life up. I'm not saying it's without frustration. I mean, I'm only human. I do the best I can. But there've been times I'd like to not answer." For the past...

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