McCain's Independent Streak

The GOP needs swing voters to keep the White House. Only one candidate can win them

Christopher Morris / VII for TIME

McCain on his Straight Talk Express, in Salem, N.H.

John McCain's town-hall meetings in New Hampshire the weekend before he won the primary were packed--a fire marshal had to keep overflow people from entering one of them--and not with conservatives. At a school in Salem, the Republican fielded question after question from his left. What would he do to promote gun control? How would he fight global warming? How could he justify not raising taxes? More than an hour into the event, a woman got up and complained about liberal smear artists. She was the first questioner who was obviously a Republican.

McCain was usually the most conservative speaker at...

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