Just as Mitt Romney delivered a "Mormon speech," John McCain desperately needs to give a "conservative speech." Of course, the good news is that he is scheduled to do so at CPAC on Thursday ....
No TV ad will do the job. Solving McCain's base problem will require a personal visit to pay homage.
This is McCain's chance, and I think how he performs will tell us a lot about him. Here's why this is so important: I've asked a lot of Romney supporters why they are supporting him (considering his past positions). Oddly enough, they always tell me the same thing:
"At least Romney cares enough to pander to me."
Well, I don't know about pandering, but John McCain surely needs to reassure conservative voters. You see, conservatives feel like he doesn't care enough about us to even pretend to be one of us.
The CPAC speech will tell us a lot about McCain.
If it's a stump speech about him being a "foot soldier in the Reagan Revolution," we will know that is perfunctory pablum and that he didn't care enough to write something new. In that case, it is likely to assume he didn't want to give the speech, was probably talked into it by his staff, and isn't willing to humble himself by really trying.
But if McCain looks us in the eye, acknowledge problems, but promises ... promises ... he will make conservatives proud on issues ranging from Life, to Judges, to taxes. Then, he has a chance.
... Of course, this won't win all conservatives over. McCain will never win all conservatives over. But it would be a start.