After 11 months licking his wounds, John McCain is getting back out there, appearing on TV more often and acting little like the man who gave a gracious, conciliatory concession speech last November. He's finding support within the GOP, where his combative approach hasn't always resonated, because his target is often the White House. "A lot of people, including me, thought he might be the Republican building bridges to the Obama administration," says an adviser. "But he's been more like the guy blowing up the bridges."
True, detractors are holding a grudge over McCain's selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate, and two conservative challengers have already announced for next year's GOP primary. In the Senate, he's only growing more popular. "He's been part of the team," Lamar Alexander tells Time. "He's provided the kind of adult, grownup leadership that we need in the Republican caucus."