John McCain Graceful at CPAC

by Sean Hackbarth

Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, did what he needed to reach out to conservative critics.

Introducing McCain first was George Allen. That was outreach to former Thompson supporters. After that was Sen. Tom Colburn. While pointing out his own difference with McCain on the McCain-Feingold political speech restriction bill he praised the Arizona’s Senator’s concern about corruption in government. Colburn also told the audience that McCain had a record conservatives could support especially on judges.

Then Sen. McCain came to the stage. If there were boos the cheers overwhelmed them from the television screen I was watching the speech from.

Oddly he started by saying, “We should do this more often.” It’s odd because it’s been McCain who has avoided CPAC.

McCain asked for conservatives’ support. He understood he needs conservatives’ ideas and energy to win in November.

McCain then went into the conservative case for supporting him. He mentioned the conservative axiom that “liberty is conferred by the Creator.” He noted Edmund Burke and the 1975 Ronald Reagan CPAC address about the need for a political party to stand on certain principles.

McCain wants the Bush tax cuts to be made permanent; he wants the corporate tax cut; and will fight to end the ATM.

He emphasized when he fought for politically danger positions: ending farm subsidies in Iowa and opposing the catastrophic disaster insurance bill in Florida.

Then he address his biggest problem with conservative critics: immigration.

McCain stood out front and told them he “won’t pretend otherwise” about opposition to his immigration bill. He understood his work provoked “outspoken opposition.”

With this some boos erupted only to be overpowered by pro-McCain cheers.

Specifically on immigration McCain promised to secure the southern border before addressing other immigration issues like the legal status of illegal immigrants already in the U.S.

McCain then contrasted himself with Sens. Clinton and Obama. The Democrats want to expand government; McCain wants to reduce government. He promised to veto any bill that contains an earmark, and he’ll refuse to expand entitlements like the prescription drug bill. While the Democrats say they’ll raise taxes, McCain wants to cut them. While Senate Democrats want to stop the intelligence gathering of terrorist suspects McCain would fight to make sure federal agents were listening. McCain would nominate Supreme Court justices like John Roberts and Sam Alito. We know Clinton and Obama wouldn’t nominate anyone like them.

Finally Sen. McCain focused on his strength: national security. He will keep fighting for victory in Iraq and took credit for supporting President Bush’s surge. In contrast Clinton and Obama want to pull out giving the U.S. a painful defeat. McCain said he wouldn’t allow an aggressive Iran to possess nuclear weapons.

To conclude McCain acknowledge there would be future occasions when he would disagree with many conservatives. He even called himself a “maverick.” Yet he asked for conservatives’ counsel and support.

Was McCain’s speech enough to win me over? No. I’ll vote for him in November, but I haven’t gotten to the point where I could donate much to his campaign or volunteer for him. Getting to that point will take a while and will require McCain to keep saying the good things he did in his speech today. The gracious Senator did what he needed to do to bridge the gap with his critics and heal the Republican Party.

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10 Responses to “John McCain Graceful at CPAC”


Will I vote for him as a conservative? NO!!!!

I will no longer believe people like McAmnesty because they cannot be trusted. I will no longer accept “Because They Can Win” dumb theory.

I vote on issues and I vote on knowledge of what these people have done in the past or they “DO NOT GET MY VOTE” period.

All his pandering at CPAC was a joke just like him and I want this country to have what the socialist Dems have to offer, I want them to feel the pain and then maybe will they learn.

Obviously 9/11 taught this country nothing.


So, if you vote on the issues and knowledge of what the people have done in the past, and you and this country to have what the socialist Dems have to offer, I can only conclude that you’re a socialist Dem. I mean, if you vote for them, you must support their issues, right?

Brilliant, absolutely brilliant.


Knowing the damage John McCain would do, you’d still support him? I hate John McCain more than I hate Hillary. I will not support him, ever, no matter what.

The real worst case scenario is Obama…better to make sure Hillary wins it. At least then the Republicans in Congress would fight back. If they do nominate John McCain, I’ll leave the GOP and support Hillary for 08. She’d do less damage, as Congress wouldn’t get many actual bills to her desk. She’s divisive on both sides of the aisle.

but I must say I’m disappointed in this lack of conviction to our principles. No wonder they don’t care about conservatives. At the end of the day, they know we’ll hop on board and do it their way. Not me.

“Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!” Patrick Henry, 1775

I’ve contacted the AZ GOP requesting they post a petition to demand a brokered convention. That’s the last hope I can see to get a candidate we can support. I’m not caving in so easily.


Hey Sean,

I feel the same way you do about McCain. he was obviously not the first choice for either of us… but our choices have become severely limited. In the interest of unity, and with my eyes on the future, I will vote for McCain (assuming he’s the one) if for no other reason that to keep the Dems out.

But the GOP needs to know that this election has had a profound effect already on conservatives, and I think our voices will be heard more and more, because we are going to get louder.

Now…. if we could only convince McCain to pick Fred as his running mate! THAT would be one hell of a ticket if you ask me!


Chris, I can’t imagine Fred Thompson being the VP nominee. It doesn’t fit his temperament. Plus, McCain/Thompson would be the “Grumpy Old Men” ticket. Imagine that against Sen. Obama?

I’ve said previously I’ll vote for McCain. I have not said I’d do so with a smile on my face. Nor have I said I would go out and actively work hard for him. He’s not near that point with me. Maybe it will happen, maybe not.

In his speech yesterday McCain did say what he needed to say to conservative critics. I hope he realizes he needs to continue talking to them to earn their trust.

So it’s kind of “one-and-a-half cheers” for McCain.


Oh Sean,

It must be your age but in time and the damage to your thoughts and dreams that will be done by people like McAmnesty you will come to realize that a true conservative in the Republican party cannot be bought with wishfull thinking or fake words. And to the person above, no where in my thoughts above said I was even voting try and keep up if you can!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Ah, so you’re skipping out on your civic duty, eh? Great conservative you are.

Typical for guys who claim to be “true conservatives”..if you don’t like the game, you cry, pick up your ball and go home.

Fortunately, there are real conservatives like Sean who realize that the GOP candidate may not be their first choice. But also realize that to leave our troops in Iraq at the mercy of Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama is unacceptable. To permit a socialistic health care plan like Hillary-care or Romney-care is unacceptable. To permit the 9th circuit in toto to be placed on the Supreme Court is unacceptable.

If you don’t want to realize that, go ahead. Hopefully McCain won’t feel obligated to pander to the extremist wing of the party now and can work on increasing his chances in the general.


Chancellor, you are spot on. This week has seen a fair bit of whining and narrow-mindedness along the lines of some comments here. There is perhaps no way to ameliorate those who discuss “hate” and “principles” in the same breath, and I support your contention that we march forward.


I can’t support what I see to be a McCain/Huckabee ticket. The writing is on the wall that the pact was made long before West Virginia. McCain is too old, too volatile and too inclined toward a type of creeping appeasement. Huckabee is one of those gladhanders who will do anything for approval which would make him a slave to the pollsters.

So what to do? I really don’t like Hillary Clinton. I don’t trust her and in fact I suspect the media being so much on her side played a big role in the way the Republican candidates were covered. Heck, CBS has totally given up on even the appearance of balance by featuring Obama AND Clinton on 60 Minutes on Sunday. There’s parity for you. Obama is far more liberal, but also far more personal in his approach. He seems to genuinely care about making good choices, which could hold him on making the rapid decisions required in the POTUS position. BUT, if he won, it would finally silence those who use the race card as a crutch and an excuse for everything from DUI arrests to illegal immigration investigations.

If there ever was a cause for a third party, this season is it. My best hope is that if/when the Dems get the White House, the following two years are so full of their taxation and rhetorical balkanization of the nation that people get sick of it and vote out incumbent liberals at the mid-terms. Until then, I guess we just hunker down and pray. That is, if we are still allowed to do that.


[...] Soon after McCain’s Super Tuesday wins that forced Mitt Romney out of the race and essentially sealed up the nomination he spoke to conservatives at CPAC. I thought he said what he needed to say, but that it was only a start. I haven’t seen much outreach from the candidate since then. Instead, I read Lawerence Eagleburger’s words showing contempt for conservatives, particularly Christian conservatives: Yet Eagleburger bluntly contradicted McCain on at least one major issue of concern to the Republican Party: the role of the religious right. McCain has spent two years making nice with the likes of Jerry Falwell and John Hagee, repenting for referring to Falwell and Pat Robertson as “agents of intolerance” back in 2000. Yet Eagleburger seemed to suggest that we shouldn’t take McCain’s embrace of the religious right too seriously. [...]

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