My advice for John McCain: a long-time Washington political and policy strategist, in an open letter to the likely Republican presidential candidate, offers this advice: Create a New Reagan Majority.

Author:Whalen, Richard J.

Dear John--

You are a very special conservative Republican with unique populist appeal among independents and Democrats as a straight-talking maverick. You alone can re-create the broad national Reagan majority. You are in danger of blurring your identity by echoing the fading Bush loyalists. After November 2006, election polls indicate that the Republican establishment will be discredited by the worst GOP election defeats since the November 1974 post-Watergate wipeout.

You should focus clearly on Ronald Reagan as your model and adopt his 1976-80 outsider's strategy. Direct your message to the likely stay-at-homes, whose non-voting could decide the next two elections. You can mobilize these millions of Republicans, independents, and conservative Democrats to support you as a principled, consistent conservative who speaks his mind.

But you must give your potential supporters among the turned-off non-voters truly inspired "straight-talk" messages on Iraq, the economy, jobs, and the budget deficits destroying our grandchildren's futures. Tell them why you will be a different kind of president who keeps his promises.

Your opportunity to lead arises from your heroic military service. As a proven warrior, you are regarded as especially qualified by skill, experience and sound judgment to be able to lead us honorably from Iraq. You must validate that faith by your unflinchingly honest assessment of Iraq. Inescapably, Iraq will be your defining, decisive issue in the 2008 campaign.

Like Reagan, you are the feisty outsider untainted by Washington scandals and the record of the past eight years--especially Defense Secretary Donald

Rumsfeld's "war on the cheap" losing strategy in Iraq. Go on the attack against the mistakes you'll correct and share your dreams for the positive changes we can achieve together.

You have shown enough loyalty to Bush, now focus on Reagan as your model and make your messages future-oriented and boldly optimistic. Emphasize that you carry the libertarian banner of Reagan's authentic domestic legacy as a limited-government conservative. You must stay in character, be true to yourself, and say and do nothing that might impair your all-important image of integrity and independence.

You said from the start of the Iraq war that Secretary Rumsfeld was gambling by deploying too few troops. You said: "I have strenuously argued for larger troop numbers in Iraq, including the right kind of troops--linguists, special forces, civil...

To continue reading