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New twist for McCain: More talk of his military service

September 2, 2007 |  4:44 pm

Sen. John McCain is obviously uncomfortable talking about his military service. Although he and fellow Republican candidate Duncan Hunter are the only ones with actual war experience running for president in 2008, McCain has shied away from making much of his Navy flying career, which included six years of torture and incarceration as a POW in North Vietnam where his broken arms healed so poorly he can't really raise them anymore.

But those experiences could be very helpful in selling his qualifications and credibility as a potential commander in chief. How to get around that?

Answer: Have his wife Cindy talk about it.

In a new campaign direction and campaign video McCain's wife talks about her husband and sons' military service. "Our sons are serving and will serve," she says, "and I just think we need a commander in chief that understands that."

Asked about the rare mention of the family, a surprised McCain told CNN, "We're proud that they're in the military, but we don't talk about it any more than that...The fact is I am the most experienced and the most prepared and my family has long generations of service to this country and I am proud of that." McCain's father was an admiral in the Navy.

As for the other candidates, McCain added, "I don't say they are unqualified or unprepared. I'm saying I am the most prepared."

Also in the works is a 12-minute video the McCain campaign intends to use to introduce the Arizona senator at house parties and speaking events. The video, which is available here in snippets, focuses on McCain's years in Vietnam including his brutal prison camp treatment.

The reorganized and slimmed-down McCain campaign, which is the first to qualify for matching federal funds, has yet to decide if it will accept them, given the spending limits a candidate also must agree to. None of the other major GOP contenders intend to take federal funds.

But McCain officials have said that fundraising has picked up over the summer with nearly $2 million raised in July, and only $1.4 million spent. McCain's September calendar is reportedly heavily larded with fundraising events. The campaign has also retained Robert Mosbacher, a former Commerce secretary and successful fundraiser, to help with the money-raising.

--Andrew Malcolm