McCain Talks About His Father
By Michael D. Shear
MERIDIAN, Miss. -- Sen. John McCain returned to his ancestral home state to kick of a week-long biographical tour aimed at reintroducing himself to the American people and to highlight his military background.
Speaking not far from McCain Field, the naval air station named for his grandfather, the Arizona senator called himself the "son and grandson of admirals" and recounted in detail his family's decades of service in the military.
"My grandfather was an aviator; my father a submariner," McCain said. "They were my first heroes, and their respect for me has been one of the most lasting ambitions of my life. They gave their lives to their country, and taught me lessons about honor, courage, duty, perseverance and leadership."
The speech was largely a condensed version of his book, "Faith of my Fathers," a personal biography that traces his upbringing and the Naval careers of his grandfather, his father and himself.
Before walking onto a stage in front of a banner that said "Service to America," the campaign played two highly stylized videos -- one directly comparing McCain to Winston Churchill and Teddy Roosevelt, and the other emphasizing his commitment to service.
His daughter, Meghan, wife, Cindy, and 96-year-old mother, Roberta, sat on the stage beside him as he gave the speech. He recounted how he grew up "under the influence of strong, capable, accomplished women."
As he does frequently, McCain used the opportunity to warn against government intrusion in family life, saying that "No government is capable of caring for children as attentively and wisely as the mother and father who love them."
But his speech said government must be "attentive" to not enacting policies which make the job of parenting harder. He said government spending "must not be squandered" but repeated his call for new government training programs to help workers displaced in the current economic downturn.
The speech was the kickoff to a week of stops in significant places in McCain's life. Tuesday, he returns to the high school he attended outside of Washington D.C. On Wednesday, he will give a speech at the Naval Academy in Annapolis. On Thursday, he heads to Florida, where he was posted and got flight training.
McCain aides hope the week-long "bio-tour" will cement in the public's mind McCain's personal history and his connection to military service. It will end with a rally in Arizona on the same courthouse steps that former Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater announced his presidential bid in 1964.
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