John McCain may be getting the hang of this front-runner thing.
You say whatever you want to say, you keep repeating it, and you don't worry about the details.
Straight talk? That was earlier in the campaign.
At a Republican debate at the Ronald Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif., Wednesday night, McCain repeatedly charged without a whole lot of evidence that Mitt Romney once supported a specific timetable for withdrawal from Iraq.
Romney heatedly denied it, saying it "sort of falls into the dirty tricks that I think Ronald Reagan would have found reprehensible."
McCain didn't care. He knew Ronald Reagan was not around to give an opinion one way or another.
So McCain stuck to his guns, knowing that, as long as the conversation is on the Iraq war and McCain's unswerving support for that war, he probably will continue to do well. (Just as long as the war continues to go well, of course.)
And when it came to his vulnerabilities, McCain learned how a front-runner handles those: He blows by them.
That comprehensive immigration reform bill that McCain co-sponsored with Ted Kennedy? Would McCain vote for it today?
McCain refused to say Wednesday night. That's right. He refused to say whether he would vote for his own bill.
Why? Because just about everybody hated the bill, that's why!
Which is not the way McCain put it, of course.
"My bill will not be voted on; it will not be voted on," he said, with what sounded like relief.
Instead of voting in favor of his own bill, McCain will "secure the borders first."
Why? "The fact is, we all know the American people want the border secured first," McCain said.
And when you are running for president, giving the people what they want is what you do. Giving them what they need, including straight talk? Well, you can take care of that after the election.
In my opinion, however, the most interesting thing that happened in Simi Valley happened a few hours before the debate began.
Rudy Giuliani told a fib. A big one.
"I don't do things halfway," the former New York mayor said. "I do them 100 percent."
Wrong. Giuliani ran for president halfway. At best.
Giuliani was formally announcing the end of his failed campaign. And it was not just his strategy that was flawed.
Giuliani never was a good candidate. He expected automatic admiration and automatic acceptance of the questionable notion that if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere.
Anywhere except the United States of America, it turned out.
Giuliani was a celebrity candidate with a celebrity strategy: He would run the race on his terms and his terms alone.
He never seemed to prepare for a single debate or a single event. He always just showed up and was Rudy, as if that was enough.
"I am not going to change who I am; I think that would be a terrible mistake," he told me last year. "Better off you vote against me than I change who I am."
People decided they were better off voting against him.
And now that it is over, about the best thing you can say about Rudy Giuliani's campaign is that he worked harder than Fred Thompson.