MERIDIAN, Miss. (AP) -- Republican Sen. John McCain is opening a new chapter in his presidential campaign, casting himself as an "imperfect servant of my country" who was born into a family of American warriors devoted to honor, courage and duty.
"I am the son and grandson of admirals," McCain said in excerpts of a speech prepared for delivery Monday. "They were my first heroes, and their respect for me has been one of the most lasting ambitions of my life. ... They showed me how to love my country, and that has made all the difference for me."
The Arizona senator arranged to speak at Mississippi State University, the first stop on a weeklong tour designed to present him to the public as his party's candidate for the fall campaign.
McCain emerged victorious from the Republican primaries weeks ago. Seven months before the election, polls point toward a competitive race with either Barack Obama or Hillary Rodham Clinton, rivals in a marathon struggle for the Democratic nomination.
McCain mentioned neither of his potential opponents in the excerpts released in advance. Nor did he discuss the war in Iraq or the weakening economy and spike in home foreclosures - issues where he differs from both his potential opponents.
Instead, he spoke in general terms about the role of government.
"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 in the prepared remarks.
"And where government has a role to play, in education, in combating the threats to the security and happiness of children from online predators, in helping to make health care affordable and accessible to the least fortunate among us, it must do so urgently, effectively and wisely."
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