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Video: McCain at CPAC–not quite The Uniter yet

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By Michelle Malkin  •  February 7, 2008 05:30 PM

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CPAC attendee not on board with McCain

Update 8:15pm Eastern. Oy. Sen. John Cornyn endorses the man who cursed him out.

U.S. Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign today announced that Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) has endorsed John McCain for president. Senator Cornyn issued the following statement on his endorsement:

“In this time of war and economic uncertainty, America must have strong, principled leadership. National security is the first and most important priority of the federal government. We must have a President who will be a leader in the war on terrorism, who will do what is needed to protect our country and its people, and who will not buckle when the political waters become rough. In the Senate Armed Services Committee, and on the Senate floor, I have seen firsthand that John McCain has been right on critical national security issues. He is clearly the man for the job.

“Sen. McCain has also been a real leader on another issue that we have neglected far too long — wasteful and excessive Washington spending. I have watched John McCain take on the special interests and fight the tough battles on behalf of American taxpayers. While we have had principled disagreements on some issues, including some aspects of immigration reform, I am convinced that John McCain shares my conviction that we must secure our borders and restore respect for the integrity of our immigration laws. I will look forward to continuing to pursue these goals with him when he is President.

Just for the record: I am not convinced. One CPAC speech and a bunch of robo-calls repeating his “secure the borders” pledge are not enough.

Not at all.

Not when he has done nothing to repudiate his Soros-tied “Mexico First/”Free Flow of people”/”bloc, not a nation” Hispanic outreach director and his anti-English immersion national finance-co-chair.

***

I sat in the back of the ballroom for McCain’s speech. Here’s a short vid clip that gives you a sense of the mix of boos and cheers. The other half of the room also had a front-loaded contingent of McCain supporters and a back-loaded chorus of booers. (Update: Added more photos below.)

One thing I noted was that the crowd included a much larger continent of older attendees than the other sessions. A significant number of anti-McCain people didn’t make it into the room. One attendee told me the overflow room was raucously, anti-McCain–with only a handful of pro-McCain folks.

McCain repeatedly stressed his gratitude for the speaking opportunity and referred to his differences with conservatives in almost every other sentence.

I don’t think a CPAC speaker has ever stressed his differences so many times before the conservative base–not even Sam Donaldson!

I respect his decision to stand in the lion’s den, and I agreed with much of the speech. I found myself nodding as he touted his opposition to ethanol subsidies, national catastrophic insurance, and the Medicare prescription drug benefit. But I don’t for a minute buy his claim that he “respects the opposition” of his staunchest opponents, especially the anti-amnesty crowd. These are folks he has cursed and likened to Bull Connor-style bigots. He has done nothing to rid his campaign staff and finance board of the most extreme open-borders zealots.

I said he needed to do more than mouth the Right platitudes.

Still waiting.

To end on a positive note:

The best thing John McCain had going for him at CPAC was Tom Coburn.

McCain was joking when he said maybe he should “just sit down” after Coburn’s introduction.

A lot of folks in the audience wish he weren’t kidding.

***

The Club for Growth agrees with me: Less talk, more action…

Club for Growth President Pat Toomey released the following statement on Senator McCain’s speech at CPAC this afternoon:

“Senator McCain deserves some credit for making a conscious effort to reach out to conservatives at CPAC today, but over the next couple of months, he will need to go beyond talking about those issues on which he agrees with conservatives and address those areas in which we’ve had strong disagreements. More specifically, he will need to reassure conservative regarding his vision on tax policy; political speech during campaigns; global warming remedies; and his general approach towards regulatory matters.”

“In addition, the most concrete manifestation of McCain’s commitment to conservative principles will be his selection of an economic conservative running mate who will unify the Republican coalition. Clearly, an economic liberal like Mike Huckabee will be unacceptable to a majority of Republicans. Rather, Senator McCain will need to pick a vice-presidential candidate who embodies the Republican belief in limited government, economic freedom, and the power of free enterprise to advance prosperity for all Americans.”

***

I’ve heard pretty much the same thing Justin Higgins is hearing: Romney’s going to regroup the next couple of days and then work to help unite the GOP against Hillary or Obama. I asked a Romney guy if this meant an imminent McCain endorsement. He said he wouldn’t call it an “endorsement”…yet.

One more funny and half-snort-worthy tidbit: I received in my inbox what I believe is the first e-mail communication from the McCain that I’ve ever received.

Outreach, my friends. Outreach.

***

A few photos from the floor:

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