But John McCain was scheduled to address his toughest audience, the Conservative Political Action Committee, and so he did.

Here’s his speech:

I know I have a responsibility, if I am, as I hope to
be, the Republican nominee for President, to unite the party and
prepare for the great contest in November. And I am acutely aware that
I cannot succeed in that endeavor, nor can our party prevail over the
challenge we will face from either Senator Clinton or Senator Obama,
without the support of dedicated conservatives, whose convictions,
creativity and energy have been indispensible to the success our party
has had over the last quarter century.

So far so good…

I am proud to be a conservative, and I make that claim
because I share with you that most basic of conservative principles:
that liberty is a right conferred by our Creator, not by governments,
and that the proper object of justice and the rule of law in our
country is not to aggregate power to the state but to protect the
liberty and property of its citizens. And like you, I understand, as
Edmund Burke observed, that “whenever a separation is made between
liberty and justice, neither . . . is safe.”

Hang on to that concept of justice, it will be key to this race
going forward, since the next president will possibly be naming at
least two Supreme Court justices. And it’s one that he’ll have to
convince his party on, since some of them distrust his views.

‘Listen to me,’ he (sort of) said…

My record in public office taken as a whole is the
record of a mainstream conservative. I believe today, as I believed
twenty-five years ago, in small government; fiscal discipline; low
taxes; a strong defense, judges who enforce, and not make, our laws;
the social values that are the true source of our strength; and,
generally, the steadfast defense of our rights to life, liberty and the
pursuit of happiness, which I have defended my entire career as
God-given to the born and unborn.

Those are my beliefs, and you need not examine only my past votes
and speeches to assure yourselves that they are my genuine convictions.

The people in front of him, these most active and conservative of
active conservatives, were listening. Perhaps reserved a bit more now
that they know this is probably their party’s candidate for president.
And so he appealed:

You have heard me say before that for all my reputation
as a maverick, I have only found true happiness in serving a cause
greater than my self-interest. For me, that cause has always been our
country, and the ideals that have made us great. I have been her
imperfect servant for many years, and I have made many mistakes. You
can attest to that, but need not. For I know them well myself. But I
love her deeply and I will never, never tire of the honor of serving
her. I cannot do that without your counsel and support. And I am
grateful, very grateful, that you have given me this opportunity to ask
for it.

They will no doubt attest to the many mistakes conservatives believe
he has made and they’ll worry that he continues to make them in
critical policies and principles. But it’s a new day for Republicans,
and they have to figure out where this leaves the party.

Some ‘pundits’ think they have that figured out, which makes for interesting media watching. But I have a question…

CNN says (way
down at the bottom of the piece) that this, of course, leaves the
Republicans closer to having their nominee than the Democrats.

Primaries are a killing field. They take losing
candidates and get their bodies off the field. Well, they have gotten
rid of Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney.

The Democrats are having a rougher time because their rules allow
candidates who aren’t doing too well to just keep on going for week
after week after week — you can’t shut the process down.

There are two candidates left in the Democratic race who just keep on going. Which would CNN consider to be not doing too well?

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....