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Inside Politics

McCain announces '08 bid on Letterman

Story Highlights

Letterman segment taped earlier Wednesday
• McCain has had a presidential exploratory committee
• McCain said Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion, should be overturned
• He was criticized for using soft money to fund nomination
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Setting aside any doubt, Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona announced Wednesday he would seek the presidential nomination.

McCain, who had a presidential exploratory committee, made the declaration on the "Late Show with David Letterman," taped earlier Wednesday.

"We are going to formally announce it in early April," John Weaver, a top adviser to McCain, told CNN. (Watch McCain tell Letterman he intends to run for president Video)

Weaver said the time and location will be announced at a later date.

McCain, a top-tier candidate, has been a staunch supporter of Bush's deployment of 21,500 additional combat troops to Iraq.

Also on Wednesday, Tom Ridge endorsed McCain for the nomination. Ridge is a former governor of Pennsylvania and also is the former head of the Department of Homeland Security. (Read full story)

Iraq, abortion and campaign finance

McCain has said several times that he feels the war in Iraq has been mismanaged for years. Recently, the senator said Donald Rumsfeld will be remembered as one of the "worst" defense secretaries in history.

"We are paying a very heavy price for the mismanagement -- that's the kindest word I can give you -- of Donald Rumsfeld, of this war," McCain said in mid-February in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. "The price is very, very heavy and I regret it enormously."

The ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, McCain complained that Rumsfeld never put enough troops on the ground to succeed in Iraq. (Read full story)

McCain recently said the court decision that legalized abortion should be overturned and if elected he would appoint judges who "strictly interpret the Constitution of the United States and do not legislate from the bench," The Associated Press reported.

"I do not support Roe vs. Wade. It should be overturned," the AP quoted him as saying about the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that gave women the right to have an abortion. (Read full story)

In addition to his stances on various hot-button issues, McCain's fundraising will likely be closely watched.

Less than two weeks ago, McCain blasted a report in the Washington Post that said he is using soft money -- the sort he has fervently campaigned against -- to support his GOP presidential nomination.

McCain told CNN the article is the "worst hit job that has ever been done in my entire political career."

According to the Post story published February 11, campaign and IRS records show several of McCain's finance co-chairmen "have given or raised large donations for political parties or 527 groups."

Named after tax code, a 527 is a tax-exempt organization created to influence political campaigns. "Soft money" refers to a type of unlimited contribution to these organizations from corporate and wealthy donors.

"In all, the finance co-chairs have given at least $13.5 million in soft money and 527 donations since the 1998 election," the Washington Post reported. (Read full story)


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