John McCain isn’t a maverick now that it might hurt him

Under pressure from the right, Arizona senator attempts to shed what has been a key part of his persona

Topics: John McCain, R-Ariz., War Room, 2010 Elections, J.D. Hayworth,

For years now, it’s seemed like the word “maverick” was permanently fused to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. He seemed to cherish it, and his advisors often worked to push it; they may have played it down a little during the 2008 Republican presidential primary, but it was an essential part of the eventual nominee’s image during the campaign.

Now, though, McCain is in another Republican primary, facing a legitimate challenger from his right — former Rep. J.D. Hayworth — in a decidedly anti-incumbent year. So he’s been reinventing himself to some extent. He went to the right on immigration, for instance, despite the fact that his moderation on the issue had been one of his signatures between the 2000 and 2008 campaigns.

The senator’s latest step in that direction goes much further than that, however.

“‘Maverick’ is a mantle McCain no longer claims; in fact, he now denies he ever was one,” Newsweek’s David Margolick reports in a new article, quoting McCain as saying, “I never considered myself a maverick.”

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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