I've written about this in the past, but as Barack Obama emerges as the likely Democratic nominee, I think it's even more important than ever to make sure John McCain doesn't lose his "maverick" brand, as he prepares for the General Election.
It's important to note that McCain's maverick status doesn't stem from his ideology, it comes from his style (in many ways, this is the same phenomenon that makes Obama popular). So I am not advocating that McCain become more liberal in order to become more popular. What I am saying, however, is that it is vital McCain remain "authentic."
To be perceived as pandering -- to anyone -- would be lethal for him, because it destroys his brand.
As the process continues, I do believe that there is a very good way for McCain to reach out to the conservative base, without altering his style or substance one iota -- and that would be by picking South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford as a running-mate.
Not only is Sanford a trusted fiscal and social conservative, he also balances the ticket. (He is young, a governor, and a Southerner). And by picking him, this gesture alone would do much to reassure conservatives about the future of our party, while also allowing "McCain to be McCain" ...