2:34pm Eastern. The main ballroom is full again in anticipation of John McCain’s speech. An attendee just asked one of the panelists on the “Is the GOP Lost?” panel whether he agreed that McCain should not be booed. The panelist reminded the audience of the negative receptions Ronald Reagan encountered over the years and asked for civility. As I reported early this morning, and has been picked up elsewhere, there are more than a few disgruntled CPAC’ers miffed at instructions not to boo.
Meantime, the CPAC straw poll is underway and Mitt Romney’s people are encouraging people to cast votes for him.
3:10pm Eastern. Dick Armey disses Ann Coulter.
Special guest introduced: George Allen. (Loud applause) Endorses. McCain.
Dick Armey intro’ing: He’s most likely to be the next standard-bearer of the party…take the leadership by gaining control of the size of government.
We can sit it out and those of you can join ann coulter and vote for hillary clinton.
I don’t like to be abusive of people, but that was really one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard.
Special guest before McCain…
Sen. George Allen introduced. Standing ovation. We are at war and the preeminent role is commander in chief.
in my judgement, the best candidate is john mccain…
3:20pm Eastern. Tom Coburn is touting McCain. He says McCain has the rarest of virtues: Courage. He’s risked his political life in defense of surge…I’d rather lose the presidency than lose the war. Courage is what matters most. He has the courage grit and conviction to tell congress no.
(He didn’t have the courage, though, to cast a vote on the $44 billion stimulus lard-on. But I digress.)
Coburn: He doesn’t have a secret amnesty plan. If he does, he knows I’d kill it.
(Applause, then silence.)
Coburn defends McCain’s records on judges and sanctity of human life.
3:25pm Eastern. John McCain introduced. 50/50 cheers and boos.
I’s been along while…we should do this more often.
Pardon my absence last year…I was merely preoccupied.
Maybe i should just sit down.
You were addressed by a great governor, governor romney. had a phone conversation, congratulated. we agreed to sit down together and unite the party.
To Romney camp: I congratulate you, you did a fine job, you are welcome to join my campaign.
Then quickly moves to praising Huckabee.
I’m proud to be a conservative, and I’m proud to make that claim because we share the most basic principles. Liberty is from our Creator, not created by governments.
Like you, I understand, as Burke observed, whenever a separation is made between liberty and justice, neither is safe.
…I’ve always believed, like Reagan, “a political party cannot be all things to be all people.”
I attended my first CPAC conference as a guest of Ronald Reagan…
Campaigned in Iowa against agri-subsidies. Campaigned in Florida against national catastrophic health insurance bill. Opposed prescription drug benefit. Touts 2nd amendment record. I have proudly defended by 24-year pro-life record.
Segues to surge defense.
Moves to illegal immigration. Some loud boos drowned out by cheers.
On taking unpopular amnesty position: “I won’t pretend otherwise, nor will you permit me to forget it.”
A few boos, drowned out by cheers.
On illegal immigration – still provokes outspoken opposition…
“I respect your opposition.”
That’s a first.
Pledges to secure borders.
I don’t make promises to my country that I do not intend to keep.
I’m sitting in front of a guy who keeps booing.
We are arguing about hugely consequential things. Whoever the Democrat is, they will govern this country in a way that brings us backward…
i will not sign a bill with earmarks in it. any earmarks in it.
And i can assure you, sen. coburn will hold me to it.
Pledges to make tax cuts permanent.
I intend to nominate judges who have proven themselves worthy of our trust and take as their sole responsibility the enforcement of our laws made by the people’s representatives. Invokes Roberts and Alito.
Lambastes Hillary and Obama for desire to withdraw from Iraq. I intend to win the war and trust in the wisdom and courage of our commanders…We share the grief over the terrible losses we have suffered in this war…There is no other candidate who appreciates those losses more than I do…
3:45pm Eastern. Crowd breaks out in changes of “John McCain.” Defends Israel. (Applause.)
I intend to defeat the threat by staying on offense and marshaling every relevant agency…[to defend] free people against those who despise all about us…I intend to contend these issues on conservative grounds…and to keep this country safe, proud, prosperous, and free.