This isn’t exactly a novel idea, I understand. But it seems to me the coming week would be the perfect time for McCain to deliver a “I’m one of you” speech to conservatives. It wouldn’t seem like pandering now that he’s won a vital Republican primary dominated by Republicans. He should reassure conservatives about what he has in common with them. The fact that he’s the nominal frontrunner would give his promises real credibility and a certain gracious quality. He could also, subtly, note that conservative Republicans have given Romney a pass for his flip-flops and past trangressions because they trust him to keep his promises now. If McCain made similar promises on conservative issues — judges, taxes, spending, abortion — it would be easy for him to do, and it would be very reassuring to conservative Republicans who have very legitimate concerns about him.
A very important rhetorical point he could make is that he’s been nothing short of honest in his “straight talk” about his differences with the base, so there’s no reason to believe that he’s not being honest on the issues where he’s in lockstep with them. Invoking some of his vaunted personal integrity and honor in his promise to stay true to his conservative principles on life, judges etc. would be very effective.
McCain could very well get cocky after this win. But what he desperately needs to do is reassure movement conservatives that he’s not a threat, that he hears them on immigration in particular, and that he can be a counted on to be a conservative Republican. He won’t win over everybody, to be sure. But he needs conservatives to like him more than I think he realizes, during the primaries and — if he’s the nominee — the general election.
Update: As I said, it wouldn’t win over anyone. From a reader:
mccain has made a career using the MSM to kick conservatives in the teeth at every opportunity. there is no way we should ever trust that scum. i would never vote for the guy and i haven’t missed an election since the 50′s. gloria from [state withheld]
Update II: From another reader:
> McCain could very well get cocky after this win.
Yeah, that would be a big change for him.
Seriously, though, I think you’re on to something. Especially if it
is clear soon that he’s going to be our nominee, I think it would be a
big plus if he convinced the base that, while he’s not going to agree
on everything, he will be an acceptable champion. Especially since
the end of the campaign is likely to be spent appealing to moderates,
and he needs to already have the conservatives on side by then.