POLITICS
06/12/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

McCain Pressed On Past Marital Infidelities During Town Hall (VIDEO)

During a town hall meeting on Monday, Sen. John McCain was asked, very subtlety, to address how his own marital infidelities - a taboo subject of sorts on the campaign trail - comport with his pledge to protecting the sanctity of marriage by opposing such unions among same-sex couples.

The Senator avoided the question, not, it seemed, out of political deftness, but simply because the topic was not directly put forward. But it will be curious to see whether this chapter in McCain's background does in fact become a topic of discussion.

Upon returning from Vietnam, McCain received news that his wife had been in a terrible car accident, which, in subsequent surgery, had led to the loss of inches in height and crippling injuries. The marriage gradually fell apart. After a bit of philandering, he met his second and current wife, Cindy. As the New York Times reported,

As John McCain puzzled over his career, he also found himself sorting out his marriage.

In the Navy, many considered it appropriate for a swashbuckling pilot to pick up a girlfriend here or there, and stories began to spread about Mr. McCain and young women. But Mr. McCain was discreet in his indiscretions: he did not carouse with young women on Capitol Hill or take dates to the Monocle, a bar near the Senate that he often went to, and he did not drink himself silly.

''Some people in politics need a drink to loosen up,'' said Mr. Hart, noting that he had never seen Mr. McCain even close to drunk. ''John's loose all the time. He never needed it.''

Mr. McCain has acknowledged running around with women and accepted responsibility for the breakup of the marriage, without going into details. But his supporters and his biographer, Robert Timberg, all suggest that the marriage had already effectively ended and that the couple had separated by the time he met Cindy, his present wife.

During his stop in Nashville on Wednesday, McCain was asked if he was "going to talk about" his "own situation," in the context of how infidelity is as serious a threat to the sanctity of marriage as is gay unions.

"There is nothing," the questioner asked, "you see long-term couples splitting up, it's, it's just crazy...I know that you, your own situation, you're going to have to address that in the campaign. Infidelity is just a terrible cancer on this country....and I think if we're going to talk about...gay marriage, it has to be in the context of the preservation of marriage."

McCain drifted around the personal implication by reiterating his opposition to the marriage of same-sex couples. "I just believe in the sanctity and the unique status of marriage between a man and a woman.," he said to cheers in the crowd.