WASHINGTON - Senator John McCain said he will run for president and plans to make a formal announcement in April.
The Arizona Republican chose the platform of comedian David Letterman’s “Late Show” program on CBS to make what he called “the announcement preceding the formal announcement.” The taped segment for the show was posted on the program’s Web site.
“The last time we were on this program, I’m sure you remember everything very clearly that we say, but you asked me if I would come back on this show if I was going to announce,” McCain, 70, said. “I am announcing that I will be a candidate for president of the United States.”
McCain has been leading up to an announcement for months, raising money, hiring campaign staff and filing paperwork for a run for the Republican presidential nomination in 2008. In the Letterman interview he joked that “you drag this out as long as you can.”
A four-term Senator who was a prisoner of war during the Vietnam conflict, McCain is making his second bid for the presidency, having lost to George W. Bush in the Republican primaries in 2000. He is trailing former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani in national polls of Republican voters. Giuliani was backed by 44 percent of Republicans in a Feb. 22-25 Washington Post/ABC News poll, while McCain was supported by 21 percent.
War in Iraq
McCain has been a strong backer of the war in Iraq and the need to deploy more U.S. troops there to quell sectarian violence. While he has been critical of how Bush’s administration has conducted the war, he supports the president’s plan to send 21,500 more soldiers and Marines into the conflict.
Candidates increasingly have been turning to unconventional venues to promote their campaigns and reach voters. In 2000, Bush and his Democratic opponent, former Vice President Al Gore, spoofed themselves in a pre-election appearance on the NBC comedy show “Saturday Night Live.” California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced his gubernatorial campaign to host Jay Leno on NBC’s “Tonight Show.”