Politicians being the risk-averse beings we are, few would do what John McCainJohn Sidney McCainSenate's defense authorization would set cyber doctrine Senate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions MORE did earlier in the primary season. One week, he went to Iowa and told corn farmers the ethanol subsidy program recently approved as part of the latest energy package was a boondoggle. It is. The next, he went to Michigan and told workers their auto industry jobs probably weren't coming back. They won't.

He lost both primaries, but he earned my endorsement of his candidacy. Republicans need to spend less time conducting purity tests and throwing each other out of the party and more doing what McCain did -- speaking hard truths and preparing the country for harder challenges that lie ahead.

We need to have some adult conversations -- and soon -- about the big three entitlements: Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. We need to talk about the 46 million Americans who don't have health insurance and what this means for the rest of us.

We need to discuss how we're going to meet the coming spike in world energy demand, yet lesson our own dependence on oil from undependable, and often unfriendly, sources.

Americans know this. They know the problems are real and that they aren't going away. And I think that's why McCain -- left for dead after the early primaries -- now seems the odds-on favorite to win the Republican nomination. I don't agree with him on every issue. It's unlikely that two people in public life as long as us would. But I admire that he talks straight, that he acknowledges there is no easy way out.

We've had enough pander-to-the-base politics. It's time for real leadership. That's why I've endorsed John McCain.