May 2nd, 2009
05:58 PM ET
4 years ago

Meghan McCain: Don't look at us like 'dirty moderates'

Meghan McCain says the Republican Party needs to become an 'umbrella party.'
Meghan McCain says the Republican Party needs to become an 'umbrella party.'

(CNN) - Meghan McCain, daughter of former Republican presidential candidate John McCain, said the GOP is going to have to become more inclusive if it wants to rebuild.

“I just wish that moderates like myself - more moderate Republicans and more socially liberal Republicans - weren’t looked at as, ‘Get rid of the dirty moderates. Get rid of them,’” the 24-year-old told CNN affiliate KTAR radio in a joint interview with her father.

“We need to be an inclusive party. We need to be an umbrella party. We need to inspire 20-somethings, which is something the Obama campaign did very well,” she said on the "Mac & Gaydos" show.

“And it’s not that I think that our message is neither good nor bad - I just think it’s that the Democrats package their message better, and I think if we could be able to communicate with my generation, the Republican Party can really rebuild itself,” she added.

Asked about the coverage she’s been getting for the GOP, McCain said she feels like she’s “speaking out for a lot of young people that don’t feel spoken for.”

The graduate of Columbia University has been known to break with traditional conservative orthodoxy and hasn't shied away from voicing her criticisms of the Republican Party.

Her father, Arizona Sen. John McCain, said communication is key to rebuilding.

“By Twitter, by Internet –by all the things that frankly, the Obama campaign did a very good job at. That’s why we need lots of young people involved. If you are young, give us a call,” said the senator, who was mocked on the campaign trail after admitting he didn’t use e-mail.

McCain said that while he and his daughter don’t always see eye-to-eye on the issues, he shares her concerns about the party.

“I think we go back to old principles - and that’s less government, lower taxes, national security, etc. but we have to also have a new set of ideas and policies to implement and bring our principles into the 21st century,” he said.

Meghan McCain's comments came one day before Republican leaders held the first in a series of town halls marking a new initiative to rehabilitate the GOP.

Rep. Eric Cantor, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney met with voters in Arlington, Virginia, on Saturday and stressed the importance of listening to the public and strengthening the party.

“Let’s not underestimate the people of America. Let’s make sure and listen to the people of America and that’s what Congressman Cantor is attempting to do with this council. Make sure we get the chance to go across the country, and listen to what people are feeling and get their ideas because that will make a real difference,” Romney said at the National Council for a New America meeting.

John McCain is on the new council, but he was not at the town hall meeting Saturday.


Filed under: Extra • John McCain • Meghan McCain
soundoff (334 Responses)
  1. Jimmy D.

    "...but we have to also have a new set of ideas and policies to implement and bring our principles into the 21st century,” [Sn. McCain] said.

    Dear Senator McCain: The problem with the Republican Party is that it's "base" is primarily composed of people that believe the hieght of civilization occured in 1611. This is the same block of voters that you attempted to appeal to when you selected Gov. Palin as your running mate, so you know full well what I mean.

    I'm all for fiscal conservatism; but so long as your party remains married to the far right, I'll never be able to vote for any of your candidates. Barry Goldwater warned y'all about this in 1994 (The Washington Post. July 28), but the party was too busy trying to paint him and Sn. Dole as liberals to realize how prophetic his statements were.

    May 2, 2009 09:54 pm at 9:54 pm |
  2. Laurel walker

    A very sensible comment indeed. Refreshing. It's about time.

    May 2, 2009 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  3. Dan, TX

    The GOP will move left toward the center and they'll pick up supporters. We have big debt and deficit. If the democrats don't address that by both cutting spending and raising taxes they'll lose support to the GOP. The GOP will scream about the dems raising taxes, but of course they are already crying wolf and saying taxes have gone up already, when they have gone down. So, they really don't have any credibility.

    Cantor already said he thinks the tax base should increase. That is, he said he wants to raise taxes, but no one has asked him about it. The GOP and the democrats already agree we need to cut spending and raise taxes. The GOP just wanted to not do anything about the recession and take their chances on a depression, Obama didn't want to take that risk, instead he risked that we will go bankrupt later if we don't address the spending issue in the future.

    May 2, 2009 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  4. BrianR

    If the GOP got rid of Limbaugh, Beck, et al. they would have a chance ... but, after Specter defected last week, Limbaugh said to to McCain and his daughter with him. Nice.

    The Limbaugh disciples, which includes many Repubs in the House, simply don't realize they are almost guaranteeing Democratic majority for the foreseeable future with their hard-line extremist rhetoric that only 20% of the country identifies with.

    May 2, 2009 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  5. sfw

    The party of NO*** now decide not to underestimate the people of America and listen to the people of America ***We don't wont hear your spin Too late!!!

    May 2, 2009 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  6. Peter E

    It is not the image the GOP needs to revamp, it is their practices. The GOP abandoned its core conservative values of responsible spending and non-interventionism during the Bush years, and now they only give lip-service about it against democrats all the while still spending that taxpayer money. They talk the talk, but they don't walk the walk. All those GOP governors say they are going to reject stimulus money, when in fact they refused less than 5% of it.
    We need to get the party back to real conservatism. This isn't about image. Playing the image while giving up the principle is what got the GOP into this hole in the first place.

    May 2, 2009 09:58 pm at 9:58 pm |
  7. Eric Dondero

    As a libertarian Republican I support Meghan and her efforts to expand the Party.

    There's a big difference here with the Arlen Specter situation. Specter was a Liberal, not a Moderate.

    The GOP is made up of 3 wings: Conservatives (the biggest), Moderates and Libertarians. We can't survive without one of those 3.

    But we can survive just fine without Liberal Republicans. I say purge the remaining Liberals in the GOP, and keep the Mods, boost the enthusiasm of the Conservs, and invite more Libertarian Party folks into the Big Tent.

    May 2, 2009 09:59 pm at 9:59 pm |
  8. Mark Nelson

    Moderate Republicans are those that tend to overlook the conservative rank and file and their views. You so called moderates are expecting the party to reach across the isle on issues, the Dem's do not have those expectations of themselves. Why support moderates in the party, why vote for a moderate Republican, when you can vote for the real deal a Democrat. Dirty would be the wrong term, Democrat lite would be best.

    May 2, 2009 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    We really do need a moderate third party in American politics, one with people like McCain, newly Democratic Alan Specter, currently independent Joseph Liberman, and others with views like theirs. If enough big-name moderates from both current major parties join on, it could make a serious dent into the two-party system that the US has had since its inception.

    May 2, 2009 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  10. shawn, pgh, pa

    Megan remember you also changed your voting to republican after being an independant. I guess you forgot about that. The republicans will always be the "good old boys club". After all the comments and videos that the republicans have put about minorities why should minorities even look the repubs. way.

    May 2, 2009 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  11. Aric

    I know far too many young, moderate republicans that were more than happy to vote for Obama when faced with the GOP's choice of John McCain and his too far right message. I find it ironic that Sen. McCain is now sitting on the GOP's new council planning the parties rebuilding, playing the part of the moderate once again. Moderate must be the new black this season.

    May 2, 2009 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  12. Tariq

    I am a Democrat, but I can't say a fully pledged Democrat. I find that even in policies that I disagree with most Democrats in...there is at least an acknowledgment and an acceptance of the differences. Thousands in my position have therefore become inclusive and welcomed by the Democratic party in spite of our disagreements.

    Republicans can either learn from this lesson or continue down the path of "you're not 100% with us, then you must be against us."

    I give credit to Ms. McCain because unlike Senator Specter, she loves her party so much that she will stick through thick and thin....tells the party what they need to hear rather than what they want to hear....and gives it tough love.

    May 2, 2009 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    can she just go away.......really.....

    May 2, 2009 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  14. pam Eugene OR

    You're cute Megan and I even like you BUT, I gave up on the Republican party a very long time ago and there is NO way I am coming back.

    May 2, 2009 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  15. Leave My Methodist Church for the Republican Church?

    The Republican Party has to decide if it wants to remain a church (despite Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson's statement that it is not) or to revert to being a political party.

    May 2, 2009 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  16. liz

    The Republican Party has not been moderate or inclusive for decades! They are so stuck in their right wing bigotry they don't bother to actually read teh Constitution and think about issues before they scream about how important it is to cut taxes on the rich and cut services for the poor while restricting women's rights as much as possible.

    May 2, 2009 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  17. Jana

    Meghan, you need to leave the GOP.

    You are really a democrat, you are staying with the republicans because someone has told you that you are a republican.

    With all due respect – and believe me, – I respect you and your courage and voice - grow up. You are not like them.

    Leave - join the rest of us - in diversity - to take our beloved country back & rebuild it – in all its glory.

    May 2, 2009 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  18. Dan

    I voted for Obama, thinking McCain was too far right. WOW!!! I have come to look at McCain as one of the few people in the Republican Party that I could actually have a conversation with. If the true Conservatives have their way in the party, it will be a shame for the US – we need two robust parties that debate issues, not the Democrats and the Wackos. Senator McCain, you are a man of stature. Your most important job is to keep your party from becoming the party of the few "true believers".

    May 2, 2009 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  19. John

    They don't want you in the Republican Party, sorry lass.

    Try Independent, Libertarian, Democrat, whatever. The Republicans don't want your company. Don't give it to them.

    May 2, 2009 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  20. NickAK

    I think that if the Republican party doesn't want to fall into obscurity they need to get with the times and not be so black and white with issues facing Americans. Most Americans are moderate overall and I think the Democrats are the party that really recognizes that right now and they are building off it. Issues like are abortion and gay marriage are personal decisions and quite frankly true conservatives would recognize that and not try to get the government to intervene.

    May 2, 2009 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  21. Alton Drew

    Its one thing to have a bunch of townhall meetings but if the Republicans are seeking to rebrand themselves by talking to the same choir then their efforts will be for naught. It will just be a continuation of the 2008 campaign at best or an exploratory committee for Jeb Bush 2012.

    The Republicans can start rebranding themselves by getting rid of the conservative label. Americans by nature are middle of the road. The current economic downturn has more and more Americans thinking in terms of practicality. Republicans need to hone in on this characteristic and reimage themselves as promoting a new kind of pragmatism. Only then will Republicans be able to start leveling the playing field and start pulling American politics to the middle.

    Yes. Forget this nonsense about appealing to "the base." That tactic is baseless when it comes to American socio-political culture. The battle is for commonsense. The battle is for the middle. Let the gun-toting, country music-loving fringe break off and form their own party along with the white supremacists and other social outcasts who tout themselves as conservatives and neocons. We don't need them.

    May 2, 2009 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  22. Ken in NC

    Meghan it seems like some of the Old Guys in the Party are getting together to start over again and they consider including you young people again. I think it was Cantor, Romney, Jeb Bush and others. Meghan. Somebody got to try telling these guys that their time is over and their ideas are outdated. Democrats tried telling them in the last election and I guess they still didn't get it.

    Good Luck Meghan. You got your work cut out for you with that bunch of nuts.

    May 2, 2009 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  23. P Alfonso

    Megan McCain does not represent the roots of the Republican Party. It is people like her in the party that will encourage the conservatives to flee to a third party. Megan is a Democrat disguised as a Republican.
    If she wants to save the Republican Party then do what Specter did, "leave".

    May 2, 2009 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  24. Tony

    This is exactly what I've been saying all along. In addition to reaching out to the younger generation, the GOP needs to break away from the radical Neo-cons and religious fundamentalists who have hijacked the party. Small government. Fiscal responsibility....those are the core principals the Republican Party has neglected and that's why they in this predicament.

    Also, toning down on the social issues wouldn't hurt either. They need to move on with the 21st century.

    May 2, 2009 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  25. Lauren

    The republicans are just a smidgen closer to reality. At this point they need to stop criticizing and complaining about everything Obama does, stop being obstructionist, and explain thoroughly what they mean by smaller government, lower taxes, and national security.

    Those are catch phrases that they have spouted for years and they are very vague. The republicans never have really defined what that means. As an independent I would like to know what they mean by smaller government, what would they cut out, and I would like to know what does lower taxes mean, what will they be getting rid of, in order to accomplish lower taxes?

    They need to be very, very clear and give specifics as to what they mean, what is their definition of smaller government and lower taxes and how to they intend to accomplish that?

    May 2, 2009 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
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