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Ad casts McCain as strong, patriotic leader

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  • New campaign ad highlight's Sen. McCain's biography, experience
  • Ad features footage of McCain when he was a POW
  • Presumptive GOP presidential nominee launches "biography tour" next week
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From Emily Sherman
CNN Washington Bureau
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(CNN) -- Sen. John McCain launched his first general election ad Friday, portraying the presumptive Republican presidential nominee as an experienced, strong and patriotic leader.

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Sen. John McCain campaigns in Salt Lake City, Utah, with former rival Mitt Romney Thursday.

"John McCain. The American president American's have been waiting for," the ad's narrator says.

In what appears to be a shot at Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama's message of change, campaign officials said the purpose of the ad is to show "John McCain has the experience to make change," echoing a line the the Democratic candidate, Sen. Hillary Clinton, has used on the campaign trail.

Throughout the 60 second spot, images of McCain now, and during his days in Vietnam, flash across the screen while newspaper headlines superimposed behind the video call him an image for the future, "a real hero," "ready on day one." Video Watch the McCain ad »

On the heels of his major foreign policy address this week, the ad's narrator asks, "What must a president believe about us? About America? That she is worth protecting? That liberty is priceless? Our people are honorable? Our future prosperous, remarkable and free? And what must we believe about that president? What does he think? Where has he been? Has he walked the walk?"

Coming more than seven months before the general election and amid a heated battle for the Democratic nomination, the ad represents a broader push by the Arizona senator's campaign to define his image and present him as the best pick for commander in chief. Video Watch a comparison of McCain with President Bush »

The ad includes old footage of McCain in a hospital bed when he was held as a prisoner of war in Vietnam. In the footage, asked his rank and serial number, McCain responds, "lieutenant commander in the Navy" and "624787."

The campaign titled the ad "624787," following McCain's war-time serial number.

The ad will air for now in the battleground state of New Mexico which carried Al Gore in the 2000 elections and flipped to George Bush in 2004 -- a sign the presumptive nominee will focus heavily on the swing states this fall.

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Underscoring his experienced background, McCain is set to embark on a "biography tour" next week, visiting schools and military installations.

According to campaign officials, the purpose of the tour is to "introduce John McCain to the American people in an intimate way," and add significance to his "remarkable American tale." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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