By Paul Needham

PHOENIX, 9:15 p.m. — The Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport was something of a political battleground tonight.

Passengers on my US Airways flight didn’t even have to exit the jetway before they heard the rumble of political debate in the terminal. CNN was blaring with the sound of a McCain stump speech from earlier today.

As Senator John McCain roared on the television, “Mac is back,” passengers waiting in his home state’s largest airport drowned him out with boos and cheers, shouts of “Nobama” and screams of “Yes We Can.”

One Philadelphia-bound woman, who would only identify herself as Nicki, said she was ashamed to be from McCain’s home state.

“He’s not the same man we put in the Senate,” she said. “It’s time for change.”

But other passengers sounded a different chord. One man wore a red shirt with blue letters that read, “Arizonans for McCain.”

In all, the Phoenix airport may end up representing the divided Arizona that Senator Barack Obama’s campaign hopes will surprise the nation and put its 10 electoral votes in the Democrat’s column.

McCain, for his part, traveled to Prescott, Arizona to deliver a midnight address to supporters on the small city’s court steps. That courthouse is also the place where Barry Goldwater launched and ended his 1964 presidential campaign.

As I walked out of the airport to head to Prescott, I turned back and saw large letters that showed just how relevant Goldwater remains here in Arizona.

My plane had landed at the Barry M. Goldwater Terminal.