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Is McCain's bio tour working?

  • Story Highlights
  • McCain on a weeklong tour across the country highlighting his biography
  • Republicans' feelings are mixed about whether this is the best use of McCain's time
  • Tour events haven't always gone to script, including teleprompter issues
  • Next Article in Politics »
From Dana Bash
CNN Correspondent
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JACKSONVILLE, Florida (CNN) -- While Sen. John McCain's campaign is remarkably happy with the way his "Service to America" biography tour has gone this week, some Republicans say they are not so sure he's using his time wisely.

On Thursday, McCain stopped at a hangar in Jacksonville, Florida -- the place he arrived when released after 5 years in a Vietnamese prison.

Thirty-five years later, the GOP candidate came back to promote his campaign by talking about lessons he learned.

"I once thought I was man enough for almost any confrontation. In prison, I discovered I was not. I tried to use every personal resource I had to confound my captors, and it wasn't enough in the end," he said. Video Watch more of McCain's speech »

Joining him were family members rarely on the trail -- three children who, along with McCain's ex-wife, waited there while he was a POW.

"My daughter, Sidney, was an infant when I first left for Vietnam," McCain said.

These military stories -- told all week -- are aimed at making a personal connection with voters. Video Watch McCain discuss his war experiences »

While McCain advisers tried to augment his tour with high-profile levity, the week hasn't always gone to script.

He couldn't see the teleprompter Wednesday in Annapolis, Maryland. It was so windy and cold he skipped a page of the speech.

On Tuesday, McCain's return to his old high school in Alexandria, Virginia, was not welcomed by all.

A student in the crowd asked him, "We're told this isn't a political event, so what exactly is your purpose in being here?"

McCain shot back, "I knew I should have cut this thing off. This meeting is over."

Republicans who CNN contacted said they have mixed feelings about whether this is the best use of McCain's time. Video Watch analysts weigh in on McCain's tour »

But even some of McCain's GOP detractors said local media coverage in battleground states makes the tour a good investment.

"McCain being out there sort of under the radar in local communities, meeting new people, talking about himself and his record while they're fighting and bickering is a very good position for him," said Greg Mueller, a GOP consultant.

Along with his personal stories this week, McCain gave his general philosophy on issues from education to health care to the economy.

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But he has not talked about his specific policies -- what he would do as president -- on any of those issues.

McCain advisers said that's the next phase of the campaign. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

All About John McCainU.S. Armed Forces ActivitiesRepublican Party

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