On Wednesday, Sen. John McCain officially launched his campaign for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination. Realistically, this week marks a relaunch of a struggling and frail campaign for the candidate who at one time looked like a solid frontrunner for the GOP nomination. His popularity has nosedived as McCain has been pummeled in the polls for his support of President Bush’s policies in Iraq. If McCain is to recover some of his momentum, it seems that he must distance himself from the president. The Arizona senator took a first step on this path by going on ABC’s Good Morning America, and calling for the resignation of Alberto Gonzales.

“I believe that he can best serve the president now by resigning. I think he’s an honorable man, but the presidency is being damaged,” McCain said. In the same interview McCain also said that passing a bill with a troop withdrawal timeline was a bad idea. “Everything that I know. … That I’ve learned about my life … dictates that would be a disaster,” he said. “That opinion is shared by most national security experts.” On the issue of Iraq McCain was asked what he do differently, he answered, “I would certainly go to the American people and explain to them what’s at stake. … I do know that I don’t need on-the-job training.” President Bush has been trying to do this for over four years now. I think the American people want to hear that the troops are coming home. A different voice saying the same thing is not going to cut it.

During his official announcement in Portsmouth, NH, McCain held to form and criticized the handling of the war, but not the war itself. “America should never undertake a war unless we are prepared to do everything necessary to succeed, unless we have a realistic and comprehensive plan for success, and unless all relevant agencies of government are committed to that success,” McCain said. “We did not meet this responsibility initially. And we must never repeat that mistake again.” From what I have seen, the new McCain campaign is the old McCain campaign. He is still going to claim that the situation in Iraq is a good war that has been run badly, and that if he were to be put in the White House, the Iraq war could still be won.

The stunning thing to me is how a candidate who is as weak among all voting blocs as McCain is can still be running a solid second for the Republican nomination. To me, this is more evidence of the lack of both a viable candidate and depth in the field of Republican contenders. With Giuliani slipping lately, it is not out of the realm of possibility that McCain could rally enough support to win his party’s nomination.

The McCain campaign story is such a fascinating one, because it directly mirrors the decline of both President Bush and the GOP. It has been almost Twilight Zoneish the way McCain has cracked under the pressure of being the establishment candidate. You know, I am not sure if McCain can turn things around, but I am pretty certain that this campaign launch is not the best way to do it.

McCain says Gonzales should resign.

McCain officially launches his campaign.

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com.  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at www.411mania.com/politics

Jason can also be heard every Sunday afternoon at 1:30 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse
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