John McCain presidential campaign, 2008
The 2008 presidential campaign of John McCain, the longtime senior U.S. Senator from Arizona, was launched with an informal announcement on February 28, 2007 during a live taping of the Late Show with David Letterman, and formally launched at an event on April 25, 2007. His second candidacy for the Presidency of the United States, he had previously ran for his party's nomination in the 2000 primaries, losing to Governor George W. Bush of Texas. After winning a majority of delegates in the Republican primaries of 2008, on August 29, leading up to the convention, McCain selected Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska as his running mate for Vice President. Five days later, at the 2008 Republican National Convention, McCain was formally selected as the Republican Party presidential nominee in the 2008 presidential election.
McCain began the campaign as the apparent frontrunner among Republicans, with a strategy of appearing as the establishment, inevitable candidate; his campaign website featured an Associated Press article describing him as "[a] political celebrity". He made substantial overtures towards elements of the Republican base that had resisted his 2000 insurgency campaign. However, he soon fell behind in polls and fundraising; by July 2007 his campaign was forced to restructure its size and operations. The tide of Republican sentiment against immigration reform legislation he sponsored also led to the erosion of his lead.
Towards the end of 2007, McCain began a resurgence, which was capped by his January 2008 wins in the New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida primaries. This made him the front-runner for the Republican nomination. On Super Tuesday, McCain won both the majority of states and delegates in the Republican primaries, giving him a commanding lead toward the Republican nomination. McCain clinched a majority of the delegates and became the presumptive Republican nominee with wins in several more primaries on March 4. The following day, President George W. Bush endorsed McCain at the White House.
In the general election, facing Democratic nominee, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, McCain was trailing during most of the season, only gaining a lead in national polls for a period after the Palin announcement and the 2008 Republican National Convention. The dominant issue of the campaign became the financial crisis of 2008. Unable to gain traction against Obama in presidential debates, the final stages of the campaign saw McCain criticizing Obama for being a "redistributionist" and adopting symbols such as Joe the Plumber.
On November 4, 2008, McCain lost to Barack Obama in the general election, receiving 173 votes of the electoral college to Obama's 365 and gaining 46 percent of the popular vote to Obama's 53 percent. Had McCain been elected, he would have been the oldest President to take office at age 72, succeeding Ronald Reagan, who did so at age 69, and the first not born in the 50 states, as he was born in the Panama Canal Zone (a U.S. Territory at the time of McCain's birth). McCain would've also been the first president from the state of Arizona, whereas Palin would have been the first female vice president, as well as the first vice president from Alaska and outside the mainland United States.