WASHINGTON - Sen. John McCain, considered the front-runner for the 2008
Republican presidential nomination, intends to launch an exploratory committee
next week, GOP officials said Friday.
The officials spoke on the condition of
anonymity to avoid pre-empting a public statement from the four-term Arizona
US Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., remarks on the resignation of
US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2006, during a
news conference at his his office in Phoenix. [AP]
McCain, the GOP maverick who unsuccessfully sought his party's nomination in
2000, already has opened a bank account for the committee, one official said.
"The senator has made no decision about running for president," said Eileen
McMenamin, a McCain spokeswoman.
Aides to McCain say the senator will discuss a presidential bid with his
family over the Christmas holiday.
McCain is a former Navy pilot who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam. He was
elected to the Senate in 1986, and served in the House for four years before
If McCain were to run, he would turn 72 on Aug. 29, 2008, at the height of
the campaign. Only President Reagan was older - 73 at the start of his
second term. McCain's health could be another issue. The senator has had several
cancerous lesions removed from his skin.
Since losing to Bush in 2000, McCain has alternately challenged and embraced
the president, building an independent reputation who isn't afraid to speak his
mind. At the same time, he's sought to mend fences with conservatives he
alienated in his first presidential run.
After Republicans lost control of both the House and Senate on Tuesday,
McCain called for a return to the conservative principles he said make up the
foundations of the Republican Party.
"We came to Washington to change government and government changed us,"
lamented McCain. "We departed rather tragically from our conservative
He urged the party to return to a time when it was known for careful
stewardship of tax dollars, less government, less regulation, lower taxes, a
strong defense, as well as community and family values.
"I'm confident we will do that," he said.