(CNSNews.com) McCain Strong With Base, Republicans Say

By Fred Lucas | September 2, 2008 | 4:51 AM EDT

Prominent Republicans told CNSNews.com that the party’s conservative base will not hold Sen. John McCain's maverick ways against him going into November.

St. Paul (CNSNews.com) – Sen. John McCain has been both revered and reviled for being a maverick politician.
In recent years, the Arizona Republican and presidential candidate has bucked his party on issues such as campaign finance reform, illegal immigration, and global warming legislation.
Although this was a major issue during the Republican primaries, prominent Republicans told CNSNews.com that the party’s conservative base will not hold that against him going into November.
Sen. Orin Hatch (R-Utah), who supported former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the Republican primary, called McCain a “true conservative.” He also praised his choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as a running mate.
“With Sarah Palin, he hit it out of the park,” Hatch told CNSNews.com. “She is tough. She’s smart. She has more executive experience than any candidate for president or vice president. She has more knowledge of energy than any other candidate. She is a tough gal who made her own way.”
Former California Gov. Pete Wilson, who was a strong voice in the 1990s against illegal immigration, supports McCain even though McCain has supported legislation to create a “pathway to citizenship” for the 12 million illegal aliens already here, a proposal that opponents called “amnesty.”
Since he began his run for president, McCain has said that the border must be secured before the public will trust Congress to pass “comprehensive” immigration reform.
“He recognizes that before you discuss anything else, you have to assure the American people, quite rightly, that the border needs to be secure,” Wilson told CNSNews.com. “If not, 12 million will grow to 25 or 50 (million). His views on this make sense. That’s more important than if we are in 100 percent conformity with him.”