He's confident his "25-year record on pro-life" will satisfy social conservatives. About culture: "I've done some terrible things in my life, so I try not to be a judge, but it seems to me there is a poison in our culture that we have to address. Maybe it's through the bully pulpit, but we can't pass a bunch of laws to control it all."
McCain is generous about two of his potential rivals for the GOP nomination. About Kansas Sen. Sam Brownback, he says, "(He) is a far more decent person than John McCain is." Virginia Sen. George Allen has "a very good record and is a very attractive guy." McCain says it will be "very tough" to win the Republican nomination, and that "no one should be coronated."
McCain thinks Sen. Hillary Clinton will be the 2008 Democratic nominee, "and anyone who underestimates her would do so at great risk." Noting that he once ran against a woman for the Senate, McCain says of running against women, "You'd better be respectful. That's the key. If you act disrespectful, it's devastating." He believes a woman will one day be president. He just hopes it isn't in 2008 and that it isn't Hillary Clinton, whom he clearly believes he can beat.
McCain faults the Federal Election Commission for not outlawing the "527" committees that funneled millions into recent campaigns through a loophole in the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. He worries that millions of dollars in contributions to 527s from people such as liberal activist George Soros could buy the election for Democrats in several close 2006 races. Invoking Soros could also win him approval among certain conservatives who have been suspicious of McCain in the past.
McCain is doing his homework and laying the groundwork for an election run. Whether he actually runs depends on shifting political winds over which he has minimal control.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
TOWNHALL DAILY: Be the first to read Cal Thomas' column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com daily lineup delivered each morning to your inbox.