John McCain leads with the acknowledgment that people may not always agree with him, but that he is a principled individual who will state precisely what he believes in order to “earn our respect.”
So, what values does McCain think that values voters care about? Ironically, he leads with conservative economic principles, which Perkins didn’t mention at all. Transitioning into national defense, he discusses at length the need to preserve American ideals in the war against Islam. McCain departed from the script (it seems) and told a moving story about his interactions with a prison guard during his imprisonment, who loosened his bonds and then indicated that he was a Christian. He waxes eloquent about the need to protect religious liberty in America. McCain claims he has been “pro-life my entire career.” And he is so because he knows what it’s like to live without “human rights.” He won’t change his position–a shot at Romney there. The central question for McCain is whether he could overcome the lack of trust on issues conservatives care about. He pledged to appoint “strict constructionist judges who will not legislate from the bench,” which is the key phrase everyone wants to hear. He drove home his time in service, weaving it well throughout the issues he was addressing, which played well with this audience. Brownback is up now, but I’m frankly not too interested in him at this point as a presidential candidate, so don’t expect a recap. See also Erick at RedState’s analysis of McCain’s talk. He’ll be liveblogging the event throughout the day, too.
Matthew Lee Anderson is an Associate Professor of Ethics and Theology in Baylor University's Honors College. He has a D.Phil. in Christian Ethics from Oxford University, and is a Perpetual Member of Biola University's Torrey Honors College. In 2005, he founded Mere Orthodoxy.