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

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

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. GOP Disaster

    Hey Ms. McCain if the GOP kicks you and your father out, maybe you should start a 3rd Party!

    May 2, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  2. Palermo

    Unfortunately, it IS the message.

    If the Republican party wants to attract "20-somethings" as Ms. McCain suggests, they need to look at all the polling data and realize that the demographic she is talking about does not hold their view on the economy, gay rights, tax cuts for the wealthy, abortion, unregulated markets, the "war on terror", Cuba, the financial crisis, privacy, immigration, and a host of other issues.

    The voters didn't reject your candidates because they weren't packaged correctly...they rejected your platform, which was basically the same as the previous 8 years (which even Republicans now admit were a dismal failure).

    Perhaps the Republican party would be better served to split into two separate parties. The quirky and unnatural coalition patched together by Reagan in 1980 has finally bitten them on the behind.

    May 2, 2009 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  3. Spamnot

    If Meghan McCain's last name weren't McCain, would anybody beyond earshot give a rip what she says or thinks? And if she were spouting conservative positions the Obama-worshipping media would take no notice of her, at all.

    She and her father belong in the Democrat party. Their philosophies are much closer to it than the traditional Republican positions Meghan McCain mentions in passing. She has apparently learned that lesson from her father: it's necessary to pay occasional lip service to conservative ideals, without ever having to walk the walk. Specter showed them the path to Enlightenment, and they should take it. The Republican party would be far better off without "supporters" like the McCains.

    May 2, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  4. An independent

    She is right.

    May 2, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  5. Gail in Texas

    It's not going to happen, Meghan....... sorry. Your political elders appear to be deeply entrenched from the mid-20th century. Therein lies the problems – no imagination, no answers nor intellectual curiosity, but a great deal of "me", self-importance and self-righteousness. I see potential for you and, as an Independent leaning left (who voted for Obama), please know I admire your tenacity and forthrightness. After you have passed the age of 30, somewhere in mid-30's, don't be surprised if you go Democrat as I did. Life experience changes perspective and different light bulbs tend to go on. I'll be watching you b/c I think you are smart and your enlightenment is about to begin. Keep moving forward please. Best wishes!!!!

    May 2, 2009 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  6. Phil from VA

    She makes sense but you cannot start twittering and think all young people will join RNC. They have to change their position on key things.

    May 2, 2009 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  7. Sam I Am

    I wish more people on both sides of the aisle had the pragmatic, common-sense view of the poliical landscape. Meghan is right on the money. Americans are tired of extremists, no matter where they come from. If you are so far to the edge of the political spectrum that the center looks like radicalism for the other side, you need to get a grip. You're quickly becoming irrelevant.

    May 2, 2009 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  8. Patrick

    Hey, I like Meghan McCain. She's thoughtful, articulate, and I really wish the Republican Party had more folks like her and less folks like Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh...But! I think she's making a big mistake arguing that the Republican Party's problems are solvable by simply rebranding itself. It kinda smacks of dishonesty when Republicans talk like that these days. Almost like, "we don't have to change anything, just trick people into thinking that we have". It almost seems like they think the majority of the American people are stupid.

    And she needs to realize that the Republican Party has to answer to the very same groups of people whom it has presented as bogeymen for the last 40 years. Because now they're becoming larger and larger and they remember that the Republican Party has never stuck up for them when it counts. Why not start with supporting gay marriage? There's a civil libertarian, traditionally conservative argument to make in favor of it, and it would be a real differentiation between the Democrats' hand-wringing and lack of real support. Of course, they'll never do that, as that would piss off the wacko Christian contingent they've built their whole platform on. If Meghan McCain wants things to be different, she has to acknowledge that homophobia, xenophobia, racism, and elitism have been the tenants of the Republican Party and that it does not jibe with most Americans' values.

    May 2, 2009 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  9. Darryl Schmitz

    They still don't get it. We don't want rightist Republicans OR populist Republicans, which is what "moderates" are.
    We want constitutionist, classical conservatives.

    May 2, 2009 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  10. James A.

    Kick Micheal Steele out of the RNC leadership and replace him with this girl. She will make some heads swim.

    May 2, 2009 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  11. Corwin7

    You and the other moderate republicans look like sad little dogs laying next to the dead and rotting corpse of the republican party sadly waiting for your former master to rise and play with you again. Why not cut your losses and join the independant party that has very similar platforms to your previous party minus the hatred, racism, and greed (so far) and bring something new and wholly good into the world and let the neocons, rush, coulter, and the chronically stupid wither away while the wealthy who are smart enough to know the direction of the wind run for the democratic party and begin thier cancerous destructive practices there. America will need you in a few years and good men (and women) deserve much better than your likely to get from what's left of that train wreck that was the Republican Reich.

    May 2, 2009 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  12. Lisa - Atlanta, GA

    A little late coming out of the gate, but it's a start.

    May 2, 2009 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  13. David Phillips

    Meghan McCain do really think us Republicans think of you as one of us? We really don't care if you go to the other side. All your comments are posted on CNN and MSNBC tells me all I need to know. As far as I am concerned I wish you would register as a Democrat. I still love your father as a war hero. Dave Phillips

    May 2, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  14. Douglas Ford

    I consider myself a middle grounds moderate conservative on many topics, but also liberal with others. Thats why I have no party affiliation. I voted for Obama and I think he is doing a great job, but that doesn't mean I will never vote for a Republican again. I don't like the hatred that stems from far right wing, racists, and the completely illogical groups that currently own the party. If the Republican party moves back from the distant right to take up some of the middle ground the Democrats own, and they get their **** in gear with things, and listen to this smart young girl about some pointers to help them win back the fight, then they have a decent shot in 2016. Keep up the good work Meghan. 🙂

    May 2, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  15. Larry - Hazleton, pa

    Maybe you think there is room for you in the party of Limbaugh – Hanity and Gingrich but there is not. If you are not a nut case there is no room at the INN. Better jump ship or prepare to boarded out.

    May 2, 2009 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  16. Sammy

    She does have a point. For the republican party to survive the far right needs to compromise a bit. It doesnt have to cave to the moderates but it does have to accept more opinions without degrading them. However I dont see that happening yet.

    May 2, 2009 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  17. Rubicon

    Good riddance. The party has been destroyed because of this kind of thinking. You and your RINO father can follow Arlen Sphincter out the door. Don't let it slam on your way out. Its exactly because of compromising, appeasing Republicats like you that the GOP has lost its way. America wants a clear choice. Liberal progresssives vs. Conservatives. Not Democratic-lite.

    May 2, 2009 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  18. Jorge Sixto

    Young and smart Cookie with a very attractive package. Such a refreshing change from the crusty old goats.

    May 2, 2009 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  19. Thomas5

    Meghan, Meghan, Meghan......Nobody (at least not me) is calling you "dirty". You're not dirty at all.

    You're just worthless. Big difference.

    May 2, 2009 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  20. Marge

    Until the GOP gets rid of stuff like Coulter and Limbaugh people will think of them as worst. The take a simple article and twist and turn and lie about the contents. When you go and read it, the information is entirely different from what they are shilling it to be.

    Those of the kinds of things that most of real America have come to hate. Cheney and his greed and hate spewing is a perfect example of the GOP.

    May 2, 2009 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |

    "I just think it’s that the Democrats package their message better".

    That's just half of it Toots. They also have a message and a plan for the 21st century America and until you and your GOP "dirty moderates" ferret out the 20% of the hateful, bigoted, anti-middle class rethuglicants from the party you won't have one that anyone will vote for – unless your a wacko still living in the 50's....

    May 2, 2009 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  22. Carl

    Interesting that young Meghan McCain is the one with the wisdom in the GOP today. She is dead right when she says that the party must include moderates and be inclusive in its message. Will anyone in the Republican leadership listen to her? That remains doubtful. The GOP is in the process of moderates are purged from the party ranks. Soon the doctrinaire conservative base will have what it wants,,,an ideological strait jacket on its members. You would have thought the Republicans would have learned some important lessons from 2006 and 2008. The ass kickings they got from the voters should have been a wake up call. Like the Democrats, the GOP cannot win elections with moderates and independents...voters who despise the Republican right. Latino voters, the largest growing sector of the population, are flocking to the Dems. With a 79 seat majority in the House... a soon to be 60 seat filibuster-proof majority in the Senate...and a popular President Obama in the White House, the Republicans are moving quickly to permanent minority status...

    May 2, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  23. Bob the Observer

    I thought you were talking about someone who really matters, like maybe John. But you're talking about this spoiled child who has never had a job - again.

    I wonder if this attempt will finally get me past the censors. I don't know why I waste my time typing in here. It wouldn't hurt quite so bad if some of the crap that makes it wasn't so bad.

    May 2, 2009 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  24. dromad

    What are they going to communicate? That it's ok to torture people? That anyone who doesn't agree with their religious views is not worthy of the basic rights guaranteed by the constitution? That the state should preclude people from enjoying the benefits of civil partnerships like marriage because they happen to not share the same sexual orientation as the majority of Republicans? What exactly is this message the Republicans are so eager to share?

    May 2, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  25. jimmy

    Im sorry but McCain is not a moderate Republican. She is a liberal democrat. She only became a republican in 2008 when her dad was running for president with the republican nomination, duh. If she wants to speak out on issues thats fine but be a democrat or an independent dont claim to be a republican who is "progressive". This is coming from an independent who can see what is going on.

    May 2, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
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