When George Bush denied involvement in infamous smears that ended John McCain's 2000 presidential bid, the feisty senator barked, “Don’t give me that shit. And take your hands off me.” But just 4 years later he gave the somber president a pre-debate pep talk: “You’re gonna be great.” The relationship between the two men has been a rollercoaster of bitter fighting and support, David Carney writes, detailing some of the unknown episodes in Time.
McCain’s disdain for the Texan was on display when endorsing Bush in 2000 (see video); and 2001 saw the senator repeatedly trying to rankle the president, who in turn barred his rival’s friends from getting administration jobs. But, with eyes on his own future, the elder Republican flip-flopped in 2004. He became the re-election campaign’s “most important surrogate,” said its director—gambling on permanently linking himself with the cowboy president.