Rich Galen

I am now persuaded that Sen. John McCain will be the Republican nominee. I am neither rooting for nor against him, but that is the way it appears to me.

Having written that, let me remind you that just the other day I pointed out that when making these kinds of predictions I am correct precisely 50% of the time.

I gave a speech to a group of donors to the Republican National Committee the other night and told them that the perfect candidate - if there ever was one - no longer existed and they were going to have to get in behind whomever ends up with the nomination.

The Conservative Talk Radio World has its collective knickers in a twist about McCain but they will have to answer the same question as everyone else: Is a flawed McCain better or worse than President Hillary Clinton? Or President Barack Obama?

The answer is obvious.

Among the many things I have been wrong about in the past 10 days was the effect of endorsements in this campaign. The night that Florida Governor Charlie Crist I went on Hannity & Colmes with Bob Beckel and said, underestimating the Crist endorsement, that "Charlie Crist is no Jeb Bush."

Perhaps true, but Jeb didn't endorse anyone and Crist did so, in the way of senior political pundits everywhere, I was then quoted by the Associated Press after the Florida primary as saying while Romney had benefited from the demise of the Fred Thompson campaign, "Whatever surge Romney was getting, Crist stopped cold in its tracks," Galen said.

Getting back to the Conservative angst about a McCain candidacy, Dr. Jack Pitney, professor of government at Claremont McKenna College in California - whom I have known forever and respect greatly - was quoted after both Rudy Giuliani and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger endorsed McCain thus: It is natural that McCain, Giuliani, and Schwarzenegger would end up on the same side. They all have centrist positions, smart-aleck styles, and outsized egos. The Moderate Musketeers are as likely to fence with their own partisans as with the Democrats.

Being a "smart aleck" is no disqualifier for being President and having an "outsized ego" is pretty much a basic requisite for the job.

The exit polls from Florida indicated that McCain and Gov. Mitt Romney tied among Republicans. McCain won handily among independents who registered Republican to vote in the primary.

No one can win the Presidency by only getting votes from his or her party's base.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at