1) JOHN MCCAIN
McCain graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1958. He became a naval aviator, flying ground-attack aircraft from aircraft carriers. During the Vietnam War, he nearly lost his life in the 1967 USS Forrestal fire. In October 1967, while on a bombing mission over Hanoi, he was shot down, badly injured, and captured by the North Vietnamese. He was a prisoner of war until 1973, experiencing episodes of torture and refusing an out-of-sequence early repatriation offer; his war wounds left him with lifelong physical limitations.
He retired from the Navy as a captain in 1981, moved to Arizona, and entered politics. Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1982, he served two terms, and was then elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986, winning re-election easily in 1992, 1998, and 2004. While generally adhering to conservative principles, McCain at times has had a media reputation as a "maverick" for having disagreed with his party. After being investigated and largely exonerated in a political influence scandal of the 1980s as a member of the "Keating Five," he made campaign finance reform one of his signature concerns, which eventually led to the passage of the McCain-Feingold Act in 2002. He is also known for his work towards restoring diplomatic relations with Vietnam in the 1990s, and for his belief that the war in Iraq should be fought to a successful conclusion. McCain has chaired the Senate Commerce Committee, has opposed spending that he considered to be pork barrel, and played a key role in alleviating a crisis over judicial nominations.
McCain lost his bid for the Republican nomination in the 2000 presidential election to George W. Bush. He ran again for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008, and gained enough delegates to become the party's presumptive nominee in March 2008. McCain was formally nominated at the 2008 Republican National Convention in September 2008, together with his chosen running mate from Alaska, Governor Sarah Palin.
2) BARACK OBAMA
Obama is the first African American to be nominated by a major political party for president. A graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he served as president of the Harvard Law Review, Obama worked as a community organizer and practiced as a civil rights attorney before serving three terms in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004. He taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004. Following an unsuccessful bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2000, he announced his campaign for the U.S. Senate in January 2003. After a primary victory in March 2004, Obama delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in July 2004. He was elected to the Senate in November 2004 with 70 percent of the vote.
As a member of the Democratic minority in the 109th Congress, he helped create legislation to control conventional weapons and to promote greater public accountability in the use of federal funds. He also made official trips to Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. During the 110th Congress, he helped create legislation regarding lobbying and electoral fraud, climate change, nuclear terrorism, and care for returned U.S. military personnel. Obama announced his presidential campaign in February 2007, and was formally nominated at the 2008 Democratic National Convention with Delaware senator Joe Biden as his running mate.
So who will it be, America? It's time to choose wisely.