Republican Senator John McCain has officially entered the US presidential race, stressing his experience honed in war and Washington as he seeks to revive his struggling campaign.
"We face formidable challenges, but I'm not afraid of them. I'm prepared for them," the four-term Arizona senator, ex-Navy pilot and former Vietnam captive said on Wednesday.
McCain, speaking in the state that holds the first primary election, stressed the wisdom he has acquired over time as he sought to make the case that he is the most qualified to succeed President George W. Bush amid challenges in the US and abroad.
The announcement, seven years after he lost the Republican nomination to Bush, came as no surprise. McCain's intention has 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 Republican nomination at year's end to trailing former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani in national polls and ex-governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts in money raised.
At the same time, McCain became perhaps forever linked to the Iraq war when he assumed the role of top pitchman for Bush's troop increase. The decline in his popularity has mirrored the waning public support for the four-year-old conflict.
With little choice, McCain recently embraced the war with vigor and staked his candidacy to its outcome.
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