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McCain Defends His Support of Iraq War

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., once considered the favorite for the Republican nominee for president in 2008, has fallen behind in recent polls and in fund-raising totals. Analysts discuss the ups and downs of his campaign and the impacts of his support of the Iraq war.

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    In an effort to generate momentum for his struggling presidential campaign, Arizona Senator John McCain gave a vigorous defense of the Bush administration's Iraq war strategy today, with the knowledge that a majority of the GOP voters he needs to win the nomination also support it.

    SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), Arizona: We who are willing to support this new strategy and give General Petraeus the time and support he needs have chosen a hard road. But it is the right road; it is necessary and just.


    The four-term senator and 2000 presidential candidate is hoping that a major P.R. offensive in the next few weeks will reintroduce him to voters and make up for several recent setbacks that have put his campaign on its heels.

    In the first-quarter fundraising race, McCain finished dead last among the top six major party presidential candidates, collecting $12.5 million.

    His recent trip through a Baghdad marketplace became an embarrassment when he claimed that it was safe enough to stroll around in, despite being protected by 100 soldiers and helicopter gun ships overhead. McCain later admitted he misspoke.

    National polls also have been unkind. Gallup's latest survey found that, despite being in second place, McCain had only 16 percent support among Republican voters for the nomination, far behind former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani's 38 percent.

    It's been quite a ride for the man once considered the inevitable nominee in 2008. McCain burst onto the national scene during his 2000 primary race with then-candidate George W. Bush, wowing audiences with his trademark "straight talk" and pulling off an upset victory in New Hampshire.

    After a bitter loss in the South Carolina primary forced him to withdraw, four years later, McCain campaigned heavily for President Bush in his race for a second term. Ever since, he has largely stuck by the administration on the war, despite its increasing unpopularity and the president's sinking approval ratings.

    At his speech in southern Virginia today, McCain also turned the spotlight on his Democratic opponents, accusing them of putting politics ahead of national security.


    I would rather lose a campaign than a war.


    Following several other policy addresses over the next two weeks, McCain will formally announce his candidacy April 25th in New Hampshire.