John McCain addressed the CPAC convention on Thursday, February 7th with the following remarks:
Thank you. Thank you for inviting me. It's been a little while since I've had the honor of addressing you, and I appreciate very much your courtesy to me today. We should do this more often. I hope you will pardon my absence last year, and understand that I intended no personal insult to any of you. I was merely pre-occupied with the business of trying to escape the distinction of pre-season frontrunner for the Republican nomination, which, I'm sure some of you observed, I managed to do in fairly short order. But, now, I again have the privilege of that distinction, and this time I would prefer to hold on to it for a while.
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. Many of you have disagreed strongly with some positions I have taken in recent years. I understand that. I might not agree with it, but I respect it for the principled position it is. 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. Further, I hope you will grant that I have defended many positions we share just as ardently as I have made my case for positions that have provoked your opposition. If not, thank you for this opportunity to make my case today.