Cal  Thomas

Despite some polling that does not favor Republicans, Collins predicts McCain will be the next president. She thinks it would help him if he spoke more about the sacrifices he's made for the country. Asked whom she'd like to see as McCain's vice presidential pick, Collins said that someone with executive experience in business "would be helpful."

"Mitt Romney?" I asked. Romney received a warm reception from delegates when he gave the keynote address Friday night. Collins said she "likes" Romney. After the rancor between Romney and McCain during the primary campaign, however, it might take a dose of pragmatism reminiscent of the Kennedy-Johnson shotgun political wedding to make that happen.

Ralph Peterson is a middle school principal in Richmond, Maine and a convention delegate. He agrees that "McCain needs a solid conservative running mate" and mentions Romney as a good choice. "People of conservative beliefs want our beliefs defended," said Peterson, who thinks Romney would defend them.

If the state GOP platform is any indication, it appears the party is moving rightward. A large majority of delegates defeated amendments to the platform that would have defined marriage as something other than a contract between a man and a woman and also defeated one that would have liberalized the party's pro-life position. This was a reflection of the conservative activists who dominated the convention rather than a sign that the thinking of a majority of Maine residents, who consistently elect center-left politicians to state and national office, has changed.

To be a conservative Republican in Maine takes a lot of stamina; something like enduring winter up here. Many at the state convention wished that as the nation has gone for conservatives in several recent elections, so would go Maine. But that may take a little longer than the always-late arrival of spring.

Cal Thomas

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Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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