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McCain: The re-launch begins

Per excerpts of the speech he will give today in Meridian, MS, McCain will say: "As you might know, I was once a flight instructor here at the air field named for my grandfather during my long past and misspent youth. And it's always good to be in Mississippi, which you could call my ancestral home. Generations of McCains were born and raised in Carroll County, on land that had been in our family since 1848… 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. Yet, many McCains left here as young men to pursue careers in what has long been our family's chosen profession -- the United States Armed Forces."

More: "The family I was born to, and the family I am blessed with now, made me the man I am, and instilled in me 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." 
McCain's campaign also has released a Web video highlighting his family's military service.

The New York Times curtain-raises McCain's general election kickoff week with a fact that many folks have whispered about for some time. "With attention focused on the Democrats' infighting for the presidential nomination, Senator John McCain is pressing ahead to the general election but has yet to sign up one critical constituency: the big-money people who powered the Bush fund-raising machine."

McCain and the mortgage industry… "What McCain did not say [in his speech on the economy] -- which some believe smacks of politics -- is that two of his top advisers were recently lobbyists for a notorious lender in the mortgage meltdown. John Green, the senator's chief liaison to Congress, and Wayne Berman, his national finance co-chairman, billed more than $720,000 in lobbying fees from 2005 through last year to Ameriquest Mortgage through their lobbying firm, disclosure forms reviewed by the Daily News show."

Yesterday, as violence escalated in the Basra region of Iraq, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I) stood firm behind the decisions of the Maliki government and his friend McCain, NBC's Abigail Williams reports. "We're not fighting for them, we're backing 'em up, they are leading the fight to take control of their own destiny and that's what we've wanted all along."

Lieberman added, "It is a decision by the democratically elected government of Iraq to move against the Shia extremists in the south of Iraq, the gangs, the militias most of whom are being supplied and trained, certainly supplied by Iran."

Lieberman also blasted the Democratic Party as not his party. "It's not the Bill Clinton-Al Gore party, which was strong internationalists, strong on defense, pro-trade, pro-reform in our domestic government," he said. "It's been effectively taken over by a small group on the left of the party that is protectionist, isolationist, and very, very hyperpartisan. So it pains me."