From NBC's Domenico Montanaro
The McCain campaign today released a high-quality, 12-minute video that highlights McCain's military service and touts his "maverick spirit" with a "rebellious streak." It opens with McCain giving his name, rank, and officer number as a young prisoner of war in Vietnam being questioned by a foreign interviewer. The video marks a shift in his campaign to re-brand the one-time front-runner with an old theme -- the one that worked so well for him in 2000.
"I wouldn't call it a re-branding because this has always been his brand," said Brian Rogers, a campaign spokesman. "But certainly we view September as a critical month for the senator and our campaign. And this is the opening salvo in the way forward for our campaign."
The campaign has also bought up space on early primary state local newspapers, showcasing 60-second versions of the video, and purchased Google keyword ads. Look for any ad going forward to highlight McCain's bio. In the next few weeks, McCain will make an early state push, starting this Labor Day weekend when he visits Iowa. On Wednesday, he will be in New Hampshire for another GOP debate and then embarks on a "No Surrender Tour" through Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina.
This re-launch of sorts comes as McCain tries to rebuild and regain the momentum lost for the former front-runner. His campaign faltered financially, as well as on the issues after he had painted himself ideologically and strategically into a corner. When he was viewed as the front-runner, the initial launch of his campaign made broad appeals to Bush's base and donors. That had the potential to hurt him with the independents who propelled him to victory in New Hampshire in 2004, but the strategy could have worked as long as the base came out in full support of him. But his stance on immigration hurt him among conservatives. And now, he's trying to go home again, hoping those independents will welcome him back with open arms. But can it work?