John McCain has had the Republican nomination locked up for three months, and while the Democrats were busily duking it out, the Arizona senator was laying the groundwork for this fall's campaign—hiring new staff and stuffing the piggybank of a once-broke candidacy. As the Wall Street Journal writes, he has also tried to define his ideological stance: a reliable conservative, but at a distance from George W. Bush.
The unpopular president is a hazard for McCain, and Barack Obama, also with an eye toward the fall, has begun to call a McCain presidency "George Bush's third term." So while McCain has tried to shore up conservative support—most recently, with praise for Bush's Supreme Court appointments—he's keeping the president at a distance. When Jon Stewart asked McCain about Bush, the candidate jokingly walked off the set.