(CNN) - Play word association with the name "John McCain" and "maverick" is certain to pop up.
After all, McCain's presidential campaign repeatedly dubbed the Arizona Republican "the original maverick" and late last month McCain's former running mate, Sarah Palin, urged a crowd in Tucson to "send the maverick back to the Senate!"
But there's only one problem: McCain, who faces a difficult primary challenge from the right, says he's no maverick.
"I never considered myself a maverick," the senator told Newsweek this week. "I consider myself a person who serves the people of Arizona to the best of his abilities."
McCain faces a primary challenge from former Rep. J.D. Hayworth and has come under criticism for being too moderate on a variety of issues, including immigration. Several leading Tea Party activists in Arizona have decided not to endorse McCain or Hayworth, criticizing both of their records while serving in Congress.
Palin, who remains popular with the conservative voters McCain is hoping to court, campaigned with the Arizona senator last month. It was the first time the two appeared publicly since their 2008 bid for the White House came to an end.
Following Palin's recent appearance for McCain, the senator's campaign released a 90-second video of the two .