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John McCain, the United States Senator from Arizona, launched his first candidacy for the presidency of the United States in the 2000 presidential election.
Announcing his run for the Republican Party nomination in March 1999, McCain was the main challenger to Texas Governor George W. Bush, who had the political and financial support of most of the party establishment. McCain staged an upset win in the February 2000 New Hampshire primary, capitalizing on a message of political reform and "straight talk" that appealed to moderate Republican and independent voters and to the press. McCain's momentum snowballed when he won the South Carolina primary later that month, in a contest that became famous for its bitter nature and an underground smear campaign run against McCain.
Following his upset McCain won subsequent primaries, after the March 2000 Super Tuesday contests he was well ahead in delegates and following Bush's dropping out was the presumptive nominee. He grudgingly chose Bush two months later as his running mate for the general election.
In the general election against Democratic nominee Vice President Al Gore, McCain led or was on par most of the time, never gaining a lead of more than 5 ponits in national polls for a considerable amount of time. Able to gain traction against Gore in presidential debates, the final stages of the campaign saw McCain make considerable gains amongst independents while struggling to hold support from the conservative base of the Republican Party. On November 2, 2000, McCain defeated Gore in the presidential election, winning with a 276-262 electoral college vote margin and a very slim percent popular vote edge.