John McCain Should Be the Next Commander in Chief

America faces an enduring battle for security and freedom. We require leadership with resolve and experience with wisdom. Our next president must have the ability and experience to direct a global war on terror, manage and complete a war in Iraq and command the respect of our troops and allies.

The safety of Americans at home and abroad, and the security and prosperity of our nation and families is the preeminent issue for the 2008 campaign. John McCain's experience and national defense credentials make him the most qualified person to serve as our next commander in chief.

As Republicans make their choice on whom to support in our primary, conservatives like myself will also consider fiscal concerns, social issues and governing philosophy. McCain's votes, words and actions consistently demonstrate a conservative commitment in each of these areas.

Few Republicans in Washington have the reputation of fiscal restraint that McCain has developed in his opposition to pork barrel spending. A theme throughout his Senate career, he fights against government waste and for a line-item veto, so the president can cut excessive spending.

A budget hawk and advocate for a balanced budget, McCain represents a return to the fiscal discipline so many conservatives saw missing in the most recent election. McCain believes in cutting spending, not increasing taxes, which is verified by his Senate record. He will return our party to the smaller government, lower spending policies advocated by our movement and trumpeted by leaders like former President Ronald Reagan.

McCain says, "when the government's budget is tighter, the family budget won't have to be. If our government is forced to make more hard choices, our families will be forced to make fewer." And I agree.

McCain has a 24-year pro-life record. NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood give him a zero percent rating. He supports a reversal of Roe v. Wade. His votes to ban partial birth abortion, support the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, require parental notification and prevent funding for the distribution of morning-after abortion pills in schools show his support of life is not just words, but actions over two decades of legislative service.

Six-term Congressman Chip Pickering serves as Mississippi state chairman and co-chairman of the Southern Region for McCain 2008. He was Mississippi co-chairman in 2000 and 2004 for Bush for President. Sen. McCain also believes in the traditional meaning of marriage: a union of one man and one woman. He opposes gay marriage and, if necessary, would support a constitutional amendment to protect a state's right to codify and protect traditional marriage against the actions of other states or federal judges. When his home state of Arizona made its own decision on the issue, McCain stood proudly on the side to ban gay marriage.

He supports school choice; he supports our Second Amendment rights; he believes faith has a public role in our nation.

When the Senate faced a crisis of obstructionism concerning President Bush's nominees to the federal courts, McCain stepped in to create and enact a solution. His leadership with the Gang of 14 allowed federal district and appeals court nominations to move forward, previously languishing due to Democrat filibusters.

Ultimately, this paved the way for the approval of John Roberts and Sam Alito to the Supreme Court of the United States. Without McCain's leadership in the Senate, we could easily have seen the Democrats filibuster these two nominees and might not have their conservative intellect and strict constructionism on the court today.

McCain is a reformer. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the federal emergency response frustrated Mississippians. From debris removal contracts, to reimbursing our local towns and counties and providing the funding necessary to recover, federal bureaucracies were slow and often more concerned with procedure than people; more focused on corporate storm chasers than rebuilding our schools and hospitals and even bridges and roads.

We need a leader in the White House who will fight the bureaucracies, take on the status quo and demand results and reforms. Americans know McCain is ready for that fight and won't back down despite entrenched interests who benefit from the current, broken system.

Not every conservative will agree with McCain on every issue, and he and I disagree on policy from time to time. Over the years, the nation's media -- perhaps reluctant to embrace a conservative -- have branded McCain a moderate. They're wrong. Fiscally, socially, philosophically: McCain is conservative.

Republicans looking for the best qualified candidate to lead us against the forces of terror and lead us to peace in the Middle East should look to this patriot of conservative values. His integrity and strength of character, his sound and deliberate judgment, will move our country forward.

Throughout the history of our nation, there are critical moments, decisive times when choices turn our country and world. Washington and the Revolution; our founders and the Constitution; Jackson and New Orleans; Lincoln and the Union; Roosevelt and the Depression; Truman and the bomb; Nixon and China; Reagan and the Soviet Union; Bush and 9/11.

When essential decisions of foreign and domestic policy are made, it is at that moment that the character and integrity of a leader is measured by history. In our global struggle against the adversaries of freedom and the enemies of America, we will face these moments. It is for those sobering moments, that I choose John McCain.

Six-term Congressman Chip Pickering serves as Mississippi state chairman and co-chairman of the Southern Region for McCain 2008. He was Mississippi co-chairman in 2000 and 2004 for Bush for President.