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John McCain Speaks at CPAC

Senator Tom Coburn introduced McCain. He gave McCain a wonderful introduction [Update - Wizbang Politics has the full text]. One thing he said is that he would not be supporting McCain if he thought he was not a conservative. He also quipped that if McCain wanted to pass blanket amnesty, McCain knows he'd kill it. He also reiterated the judges McCain voted for: Bork, Thomas, Roberts, Alito, and Janice Rogers Brown.

When McCain walked it, the crowd seemed to be enthusiastic (Michelle
said it was 50/50 cheering and booing, but I couldn't hear booing.) They cheered and whistled for so long, I thought for a minute there that their goal was to prevent him from speaking. When he did begin, he addressed his absence from last year's CPAC. He also did the best job he could to explain his votes that conservatives disagreed with. He explained that he took those positions because he truly believed in them on principle but understood completely that conservatives who disagreed with him did so on principle as well and respects that completely.

One thing I noticed was the humility with which he spoke. He said that he knows full well that that he can not win the presidency in November without conservatives.

When he addressed illegal immigration, the crowd booed for a few seconds, but came around and listened to what he had to say. He said that he and the other Republicans who proposed their bill did so because they truly believed it would gain control over such a chaotic situation. He also said they failed and understood why they failed. The American people want the borders controlled first, and he will do so. He also said that he does not give promises that he does not intent to keep and joked that Senator Coburn will make sure of that.

From that point on, he discussed all the issues on which he and conservatives agree, and as he passionately argued for those ideas, fighting for the unborn, the keeping taxes low, decreasing the size of government, fighting earmarks, etc. The more he went on, the more enthusiastic the crowd became, which was encouraging. It was a very good speech, one of the best ones I have ever seen him give.

Mary Katharine Ham is at CPAC and offers her observations:

The passage about being deprived of liberty and fighting for liberty as a result was very good. Not overdone with the POW references, but poignant and respectful, honoring the fact that.

The end was very strong, about being his nation's "imperfect servant," and having made many mistakes that "you can attest to, but need not." Ha. Such is the magic of McCain that his transgressions are often too obvious to dance around, so he goes ahead and addresses them outright, as he did with his conspicuous absences from CPAC and various disagreements with the base.

The only part that didn't ring true was that he's always respected the positions of the base. Respected our ignorant, nativist positions, that is. Ha. Other than that, I enjoyed much of it.

The Corner writes that Saul Anuzis, chairman of Michigan's Republican Party, has canceled his scheduled response to McCain. I'm interpreting that as Saul must feel comfortable with what he heard.

Update: Captain Ed live blogged the speech and reacted the same way I did:

That was an excellent speech. McCain genuinely reached out to conservatives in a heartfelt manner. I'll talk more about this on the Heading Right Radio.

Update II: Here's video of McCain speaking at CPAC addressing illegal immigration:

Update III: Hugh Hewitt thought McCain's speech was "superb."

Rick Moran, also at CPAC, offers his thoughts:

All in all, McCain did a fine job. He said what he had to without being overbearing or condescending. He was jovial. His eyes twinkled when he mentioned immigration, almost relishing the clash with his detractors. And he was suitably solemn about his commitment to "conservative principles."

But besides the fact his appearance made good political theater, I doubt whether McCain made any progress in convincing conservatives that they should get behind his candidacy with enthusiasm. It was pretty much the same case we've heard made at the debates. And since those performances didn't convince the base of his sincerity, this appearance at CPAC didn't either.

Perhaps if he named a few high profile conservatives as his campaign advisors, that would help the base to rally to his cause. As it stands now, his stature may have been elevated just enough to encourage him to continue to reach out to conservatives and bring them into his campaign for what promises to be a bruising general election race.


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Comments (16)

Just before this was posted... (Below threshold)

Just before this was posted I wondered how long it would take. I'm guessing half the idiots will be turned around by tomorrow.

According to Delay, the big... (Below threshold)

According to Delay, the big applause for McCain was because the hall was full of independents ad liberals (McCain supporters as defined by DJ).


Now we see the support for ... (Below threshold)

Now we see the support for McCain slowly coming around...Ah, the morals of the Republican. You guys are good at winning elections, but that's about it.

I bet a jackson Wizbang endorses him.

Talk. Is. Cheap.... (Below threshold)

Talk. Is. Cheap.

This speech will inspire ex... (Below threshold)

This speech will inspire exactly zero independents to vote Republican, and probably not many more conservatives. Does anyone actually trust what he says? When he lies about AMNESTY to your face he will lie about anything.

The problem isn't with the conservatives, who will likely grouse and in the end vote for the old guy, but with attracting the center. And sadly ...

You could have stood any tired old man behind the curtain, give this speech and got the same effect. Bob Dole II -- without the charisma. Inspiration was sadly lacking, lofty rhetoric is Obama's and that is what wins in the TV age, see Hillary for help with the fine points.

The drive by media is going to have a field day with the "old out of touch label".

I understand your confusion... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

I understand your confusion, Barney. Polite applause and respect for a man who served his country for 40+ years, even where there are sharp political disagreements is almost unknown among Liberals.

The man has shown he has no... (Below threshold)
Dave W:

The man has shown he has no qualms about lying to the american people when he said Romney wanted to set a timetable for withdrawl.

What he said today flies in the face of his record in the senate.

The way i see this guy is that he is the perfect mold of a politician. Many people have this stereotypical idea of a promises first and disappointments later kind of politician. That is McCain through and through. Political expediency is the name of his game.

Didn't he once say the media is his base? Didn't he once say that the democrats have good ideas? Now he shows up to CPAC and says he's always voted using his core conservative principles? I don't think so. He played CPAC like a stratavarious.

"I understand your confusio... (Below threshold)

"I understand your confusion, Barney. Polite applause and respect for a man who served his country for 40+ years, even where there are sharp political disagreements is almost unknown among Liberals." DJ

That was not my assessment it was Tom Delay's, so you saying conservatives are not accustomed to polite applause and respect (by liberals and independents).

You posted the comment, Bar... (Below threshold)
DJ Drummond:

You posted the comment, Barney. Are you finally admitting you have no original opinions?

We already knew that.

Welcome to the modern Repub... (Below threshold)

Welcome to the modern Republic party. Willing to abandon all principles for political expediency at the drop of a mitt.

"I have argued to make B... (Below threshold)

"I have argued to make Bush tax-cuts permanent"

"I have also argued to provide amnesty to millions of illegals as well as limit free speech for Americans who may oppose these principled conservative brainchilds"

Trust. I have none for McC... (Below threshold)

Trust. I have none for McCain. He is a damaged man. While I believe the "liberal" Democrats to be mentally defective and possibly diseased, I will vote for Obama or Hillary before I will vote for McCain. He is a liar. He showed how small he is with his "gotcha" routine in the debate about Romney using the word "timetable". Let me use the words vicious little tyrant to describe what I believe McCain will be. I have a son who is a grunt in the Army who. I am a veteran of the US Army (1969-73). I support the war against Islamic militants worldwide. I do not, I will not support McCain. To repeat an old truism, what McCain is speaks so loudly I can't hear what he says. He is no conservative. Being shot out of the sky, imprisoned, and tortured does not buy my vote in light of his Senate record, where he has attacked the Constitutional right of free speech. His failure to secure the borders in over two decades in the Senate, and his support for amnesty and open borders, is a crime against his sworn duty, as it is for all those bastards on the government teat in Congress. McCain's same-shit-different-day Washington politics is the same as Hillary's ssdd Washington politics. McCain has the potential to damage America far more than Obama and Hillary, who will spent money not lives. The man is dangerous, period

Instead of talking and tryi... (Below threshold)
Dave W:

Instead of talking and trying to convince people with words, why doesn't McCain act. I'll support him 100% if he can get a bill through congress that does away with McCain Feingold. Or how about something that might recommend to the executive branch that they need to enforce the existing laws? Maybe if he pushed through permanent tax cuts over the summer. If he can get some kind of conservative bill pushed through before november as a show of good faith, i'll support him. Maybe he should propose a rule change so that democrats can't fillibuster judges. There are quite a few things he could get pushed through the house/senate with his name attached that would prove he has changed. Maybe he could get some kind of sense of the senate thing going that would get some support for guantanamo, water boarding, wiretaps, or anything relating to the war on terror. Maybe he could come out and push hard to get some drilling done in ANWR.

Unless McCain starts acting like a conservative, his words are falling on deaf ears here.

BTW, i know McCain will nev... (Below threshold)
Dave W:

BTW, i know McCain will never actually act like a conservative. Therefore he will never have my support. He does have 9 months to win peoples support over, but unless he does something substantive, slams the door in the face of his liberal buddies, starts cutting some ties on the liberal side and starts actually walking the walk, i just will not trust the man.

I'll write my cat's name in the ballot ("Toby the Cat") before voting for McCain.

I see McCain was too busy l... (Below threshold)

I see McCain was too busy licking the asses of the persons he despises then voting on the stimulus package. I know where McCain's priorities lie.

McCain said a lot of right ... (Below threshold)
LoveAmerica, Immigrant:

McCain said a lot of right things here. But we need to see some actions to back it up.

Mantis and Barney keep telling us that McCain does dilute the meaning of conservative. All their spins and distractions simply boil down to that. So we get to give them, the liberals, the credit for selecting their leaders well. Hillary and Obama truly represent the real liberal convictions/principles. They really show what liberalism really means. Just look at their record here






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