PORTSMOUTH, N.H. – Republican John McCain officially entered the 2008 presidential race Wednesday, stressing his experience honed in war and Washington as he sought to revive his struggling campaign.
“We face formidable challenges, but I’m not afraid of them. I’m prepared for them,” said the four-term Arizona senator, ex-Navy pilot and former Vietnam captive.
In a speech in the first-in-the-nation primary state, McCain stressed the wisdom he’s acquired over time rather than the decades themselves as he sought to make the case that he’s the most qualified to succeed President Bush amid challenges at home and abroad.
A campaign re-start
“I’m not the youngest candidate. But I am the most experienced,” said the 70-year-old who could be the oldest first-term president, drawing cheers. “I know how to fight and how to make peace. I know who I am and what I want to do.”
The announcement, seven years after he lost the GOP nomination to George W. Bush, was no surprise; McCain’s intentions have long been clear as he has spent months campaigning in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and elsewhere.
Still, the event – and a planned four-day romp through early primary states and his Arizona home – gives McCain an opportunity to restart his campaign after a troubling four-month period. He went from presumed front-runner for the GOP nomination at year’s end to trailing former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani in national polls and ex-Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts in money raised.
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