I was in the hall for McCain's speech. I've got more coming, but the most impressive thing was that the vast majority of the audience supported him, even going so far as to shout-down "boo-ers" with cheers, applause, and the chant; JOHN Mc-CAIN, JOHN, Mc-CAIN ...
I've got lots of pictures of young McCainiacs holding signs. These are mostly college Republicans. It's something that surprised me -- and something you won't read about much in the media.
Joking about missing last year's CPAC, he told the crowd: "You know, we should do this more often."
He apparently decided to "hang a lantern on his problem," and make his stubbornness a positive attribute. For example, he talked about how he stood against farm subsidies in Iowa -- told the folks in Michigan the truth about their economic woes -- and refused to support the popular government-run catastrophic insurance program in Florida.
The underlying message was that McCain doesn't waiver on things he believes in, and as such, can be trusted to stand up for the conservative things he has been advocating, like defending life, cutting spending, making the Bush tax cuts permanent, and cutting spending.
He also promised to secure the borders and to make the Bush tax cuts permanent.
And he pledged: "I will not sign a bill with earmarks in it...ANY earmarks in it."