John McCain will give his long-awaited speech to the assembled conservatives at CPAC. George Allen will introduce McCain, marking his first major appearance since his loss in 2006. He opened by talking about the diversity of the conservatives at the conference. That will remain to be seen. Are they diverse enough to generate support McCain?
More follows ....
3:52 - 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.
3:51 - Just realized I was marking the time in CT. Sorry!!
2:42 - McCain sounds energized and is commanding the room. It's one of his better speeches, and he's hitting all the right notes for the crowd. A lot of them are his supporters, but Mitt's backers easily outnumbered those at CPAC. At the least, his opponents are giving him a chance to convince them.
2:40 - "I will not sign a bill that has earmarks in it -- any earmarks. ... I will make the Bush tax cuts permanent."
2:38 - On FISA -- Democrats are blocking our ability to defend our nation against Islamist terrorists.
2:36 - "I am not in the habit of making promises to my country that I do not intend to keep." That's a good line. It sure beats "patriotism, not profit", which has disappeared, thankfully.
2:34 - A few boos on immigration, but a lot of cheers and a laugh from McCain. He says he respects the opposition because it was based in an honorable defense of the rule of law. He now understands that no one will trust Washington on immigration until they actually secure the border.
2:32 - McCain's arguing that he has shown political courage in the campaign by arguing against big government such as ag subsidies in Iowa, and other examples. Those are the arguments that could woo some skeptics.
2:30 - He's doing a very good job in delivering this speech. He just hit the pro-life notes that brought a roar.
2:28 - He says he is a conservative because of his belief that liberty is endowed by a Creator and not granted by the State.
2:27 - He understands and respects the "principled positions" of conservatives who have opposed some of his policies.
2:25 - No one's throwing vegetables in the room. McCain has to be pleased with the applause.
2:24 - McCain's speaking now, and he's getting a big reception. He's graciously acknowledging a "great governor", Mitt Romney. The two of them have agreed to meet in the near future.
2:17 - Coburn: "John McCain was one of only 11 Republicans to join me in fighting the Bridge to Nowhere. Most of the rest of the Republicans marched off the Bridge to Nowhere."
2:12 - Tom Coburn, who I'll interview in a few minutes, goes next. He calls John McCain "a man of real courage and convictions."
2:10 - The opening of the speech shows some humility in his approach to CPAC. Here's one key passage: "And it is my sincere hope that even if you believe I have occasionally erred in my reasoning as a fellow conservative, you will still allow that I have, in many ways important to all of us, maintained the record of a conservative." That's the right tone to take.
2:09 - We just received a copy of McCain's speech. I'm reviewing it now ...
2:08 - Allen says that the primary issue facing the nation is war, and the best candidate to face war is John McCain.