Skip to main content

McCain tells his story to voters

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Sen. John McCain recalls stories from his childhood, military service
  • McCain on multistate bus tour to introduce himself to electorate
  • Tour goes through places that played formative role in McCain's upbringing
  • McCain to focus on themes of duty, honor, sacrifice
  • Next Article in Politics »
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font

(CNN) -- Sen. John McCain on Monday recalled his family history and patriotic roots as he kicked off a tour to introduce himself to the general electorate.

Sen. John McCain is on a multistate bus tour through places that he says shaped his views.

"I have lived a blessed life, and the first of my blessings was the family I was born into," McCain said.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee, speaking in Meridian, Mississippi, focused on how his upbringing and his family's military history shaped his views for the future.

"By all accounts, the McCains of Carroll County were devoted to one another and their traditions; a lively, proud and happy family on the Mississippi Delta," McCain said, describing the area considered his "ancestral home."

McCain is on a weeklong biography tour, which will take him through five states that he says were part of his "formative experiences." Video Watch McCain's personal approach »

In addition to recounting memories from his childhood, McCain described some of the most influential people in his life. He recalled growing up under the care of his mother, the "formidable Roberta McCain," her identical twin sister and his grandmothers.

Roberta McCain, 96, is often seen on the campaign trail with her son.

McCain said his family instilled in him the values of duty, honor and sacrifice at an early age.

"The family I was born into -- the family I am blessed with now -- made me the man I am," he said.

McCain also paid respect to his father and grandfather, both of whom were four-star admirals.

"They were my first heroes, and their respect for me has been one of the most lasting ambitions of my life," McCain said. "They gave their lives to their country, and taught me lessons about honor, courage, duty, perseverance and leadership that I didn't fully grasp until later in life, but remembered when I needed them most."

McCain said his family instilled in him "a deep and abiding respect for the social institution that wields the greatest influence in the formation of our individual character and the character of our society."

"No government is capable of caring for children as attentively and wisely as the mother and father who love them. But government must be attentive to the impact of its policies on families so that it does not through inattention or arrogance make it harder for parents to have the resources to succeed in the greatest work of their lives -- raising their children," he said.

McCain said his relatives showed him how to love his country "and that has made all the difference for me ... in the world."

Later Monday, McCain is expected to take part in a fundraising dinner in Jackson. On Sunday, he got some help from actress and Meridian native Sela Ward, who hosted a fundraiser for him in her hometown. Video Watch McCain campaign in Mississippi »

McCain also visited the air show at Naval Air Station Meridian where he watched the Blue Angels perform this weekend. The senator served as a flight instructor there, and McCain field at the station is named after his grandfather.

Later this week, the senator from Arizona will visit Arlington, Virginia, where he attended Episcopal High School. He then will head to Annapolis, Maryland, home of the U.S. Naval Academy.

He also has stops scheduled in Pensacola and Jacksonville, Florida, where trained and was based before Vietnam. McCain returned to Jacksonville after being held as a prisoner of war for five years.

McCain's tour will wrap up in Prescott, Arizona, where he currently lives.

McCain, who became his party's presumptive nominee following the March 4 primaries, is now trying to portray himself as the most attractive option for voters in November.

As he focuses on the general election, Democratic rivals Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are still caught up in a delegate-by-delegate battle to become their party's nominee.

Clinton has shot down calls to drop out of the race, and Obama said Clinton should remain in the race "as long as she wants."

Meanwhile, McCain has already launched an ad for the general election, in which he is portrayed as an experienced, strong and patriotic leader.

In what appears to be a shot at Obama's message of change, campaign officials said the purpose of the ad is to show "John McCain has the experience to make change," echoing a line that Clinton has used on the campaign trail.


Throughout the 60 second spot, images of McCain now, and during his days in Vietnam, flash across the screen while newspaper headlines superimposed behind the video call him an image for the future, "a real hero," "ready on day one."

The ad will air for now in the battleground state of New Mexico which carried Al Gore in the 2000 elections and flipped to George Bush in 2004 -- a sign the presumptive nominee will focus heavily on the swing states this fall. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Dana Bash contributed to this report.

All About U.S. Presidential ElectionRepublican Party

  • E-mail
  • Save
  • Print