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McCain's War Stories

A Vietnam veteran down in the polls is touting his service to revive his presidential campaign. In 2003, it was John Kerry. This week, it's Arizona Sen. John McCain. Nearly out of money and plunging in the polls, yesterday his campaign released a 12-minute video that includes footage of McCain as a prisoner of war, fellow prisoners who were in Hanoi with him and his mother Roberta speaking of his virtues. "Can you believe that was the best news I heard in my entire life," Roberta McCain says describing when she was told that McCain had not died in Vietnam, but had been captured and was being held captive.

The ad is perhaps the most direct McCain has been so far in tying his military service to his presidential run. And the campaign plans more efforts to highlight McCain's service. Following the Sept. report from General David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, McCain will visit New Hampshire, Iowa and South Carolina Sept. 12-17 as part of a "No Surrender" tour in which he will tout his support for both the surge and the war in Iraq. Veterans, both those who served with McCain in Vietnam and from the Iraq War, will join McCain at many of the events. This strategy suggests McCain's post Labor Day campaign won't be about sounding like the maverick he was in 2000, but a continued focus on Iraq and national security issues. At this point, he needs that focus to bring a dramatic turnaround to win.

"We are doing so poorly I thought maybe I would announce on this show that I'm running for president," McCain told Jay Leno on "The Tonight Show" earlier this week. "We have obviously made mistakes."

--Perry Bacon Jr.

By Washington Post editors  |  August 30, 2007; 7:19 PM ET
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