GOP Strategy: Steady as She Goes

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ST PAUL, Minn. - Many conservatives put up a real fight against John McCain in the primary season but some analysts feel his embrace of certain issues won over enough conservatives to secure the nomination.

Now what?

The accepted wisdom is that Republicans should run to the right for the primaries and then head back to the middle for the general election. But is that what people at this convention think John McCain should do?"

"The conventional wisdom is almost always wrong," Gary Bauer of Campaign for Working Families said.

Bauer says McCain shouldn't change a thing.

"I think he just needs to continue to be John McCain. Because while he's conservative, his maverick image also helps him to reach out to independent voters and perhaps even Hillary voters. So I think he should just continue to do exactly what's he's been doing."

New Mexico Representative Heather Wilson agrees. She points out she's from a state where a Republican may be conservative, but needs to know how to appeal in all directions.

Wilson said, "You need conservative Democrats and independents to win and John McCain has tremendous appeal there, because he doesn't just toe the party line. He does what he thinks is right and he puts his country first. And I think people like that about him."

Former New Hampshire congressman Charles Bass heads up the moderate Republican Main Street Partnership.

He thinks McCain won the nomination not because he tried to act conservative, but because many voters saw him as the only Republican who could win the presidency this year.

"It became apparent that John McCain had just the right formula in 2008 to beat a Democrat in a year when Democrats are strong," Bass said.

And though McCain's been criticized by some moderates for picking the conservative Sarah Palin as his running mate, Bass thinks her reputation as a reformer will override that.

"Her being a reformer like McCain, her willingness to work across the aisle with Democrats and Republicans to solve problems are what Americans are really looking for in the next administration," Bass said.

Bauer added, "And I think the country is still slightly right of center and will respond to that message."

So the advice from here is McCain, steady as she goes.'

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