By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON - Call it the presidential candidates' striptease. White House hopefuls aren't willing to just declare they're running, but rather are flirting with the idea as long as possible. First, they show some leg with an exploratory committee, then plenty of skin with a pronouncement on a faux news program or a late-night show and finally they bare all with a ruffles-and-flourish formal announcement.
"I'm here today to announce that my family and I will make a decision on my political future later this year," Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel (news, bio, voting record) said at a much-hyped news conference Monday in his hometown of Omaha, Neb.
Democratic Sen. Barack Obama (news, bio, voting record) drew 17,000 people to Springfield, Ill., last month to formally announce a presidential campaign that had been up and running for nearly a month.
Republican John McCain (news, bio, voting record), who has been campaigning for president practically since George W. Bush won a second term — or more likely when he lost to Bush in 2000 — went on CBS' "Late Show With David Letterman" in February to say he is running. But don't confuse that with a formal announcement — that will come in April, McCain told Letterman.
"You drag this out as long as you can. You don't just have one rendition," the Arizona senator said. "This is the announcement preceding the formal announcement."
Why all the bumps and grinds before admitting what most of the country already suspects?
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