McCain formally announces candidacy

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) formally joined the 2008 race for the presidency Wednesday, saying, “I owe America more than she has ever owed me.”

Speaking in New Hampshire, McCain launched his second presidential campaign by saying that the country is facing many challenges and that he has the expertise to tackle them.

When the senator made his first White House bid, losing the GOP primary to George W. Bush in 2000, he was seen as a maverick who appealed to independents and some Democrats. Now McCain, whose campaign recently has undergone some reshuffling, is selling himself as the experienced candidate.

“I’m not the youngest candidate,” McCain said. “But I am the most experienced.”

The senator said he knows how the world, Congress and the military work.

“I know how to work with leaders who share our dreams of a freer, safer and more prosperous world, and how to stand up to those who don’t,” he said. “I know how to fight and how to make peace. I know who I am and what I want to do.”

Current polls show McCain trailing former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani in the race for the Republican nomination. The senator lagged behind both Giuliani and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in first-quarter fundraising.

According to McCain, the country faces many challenges, including the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, government waste, a complicated tax code and a Social Security program in urgent need of reform.

During his speech, McCain repeated the phrase: “That’s not good enough for America. And when I’m president, it won’t be good enough for me.” He argued that Americans are “tired of the old politics” and aware of the problems the country faces.

“Their patience is at an end for politicians who value incumbency over principle, and for partisanship that is less a contest of ideas than an uncivil brawl over the spoils of power,” McCain said.

“I’m not running for president to be somebody, but to do something; to do the hard but necessary things, not the easy and needless things,” he said. “I’m not running to leave our biggest problems to an unluckier generation of leaders, but to fix them now, and fix them well.”