Meghan McCain is an American blogger and daughter of the 2008 Republican nominee for President, John McCain.
Most recently, Ms. McCain spent almost two years on the campaign trail helping her father run for President. For thirteen of those months, Meghan blogged about her experience at McCain Blogette: Musings and Political Culture on the Campaign Trail.
Meghan is a good friend and I appreciate her sitting down to talk with me.
As always, my interviews are run in their entirety and without editorial comment.
So, it’s been a little over two months since the presidential election, where are you and what are you up to?
I’ve been relearning what it’s like to live in one place for more than a day at a time, which isn’t so easy when you’ve spent the last twenty months in different hotels. I’ve spent time catching up with friends that I neglected while I was away on the campaign trail (some of them have even gotten married and had babies). I also spent a good amount of quality time with my brother, Jimmy, before he redeployed.
In between visiting family and friends, I’ve been learning how to ride a motorcycle. I was inspired by Bikers For McCain and want to go back to Sturgis next year and do bike week right.
You launched your blog, “McCain Blogette: Musings and Political Culture on the Campaign Trail” in October of 2007. If I remember correctly, about the only people who thought your father’s candidacy was still viable at that point was you, me, and what was left of his New Hampshire staff. What the hell were you thinking?
“I started my blog in the fall after my father’s campaign imploded that summer. A majority of dad’s campaign staff had left him and it seemed like everyone in the media had written him off but, actually, my fondest memories of the entire campaign are from that time.
Most of that fall we were on the campaign trail in New Hampshire. I thought it was the most “real” period of the campaign. Being part of the New Hampshire primary process with dad’s town halls and getting to meet all the people up-close will always hold a special place in my heart.
What was I thinking? I have an impulsive spirit, and I thought the blog would be a cool idea. I wanted to show people what the traditional media couldn’t. I thought it would be a great opportunity to give outsiders an inside look at who the McCains really are as a family, and it was something no one else had ever done.
If I knew then what I know now, sure, I would have done some things differently. But then it may not have been as organic and real as it ended up being.
I guess I did it most of all because I love my Dad very much and wanted to help him in any way possible.”
Although initially there were some Blogette skeptics, almost immediately the blog really took off and found a loyal audience of readers around the country. Why do you think that was and what was that like?
“I think people are enormously curious about things that they may not get to experience themselves. I always tried my best to be open and raw about what I saw and did on the campaign trail, and I think people identified with that.
I know that there are people who believe that Blogette had no place on the campaign trail, but the feedback I got from our readers and our site traffic speaks for itself.
I think I am most proud of the fact that I was able to get people involved in the political process that might not have been involved before; young people who were attracted to a political blog that doesn’t fit the traditional D.C. mold. I’m proud that young women approach me tell me that my blog helped make the election accessible to them.”
Do you realize that you and your two Blogette partners in crime – Heather Brand and Shannon Bae – have redefined the role that a candidate’s family and friends can play on the campaign trail? What do you think about that?
“I think it worked so well because my parents knew and liked Shannon and Heather long before the campaign ever started. They still are my closest friends, and I love them like sisters. That type of trust is very rare on a campaign. Also, the Blogette couldn’t have existed without my father’s openness. Or mine.
But it was still hard. Toward the end of the campaign, after dad became the Republican nominee, it became increasingly difficult for me to share my experiences because there were so many critics of simple things like my musical tastes and body shape. It made it hard for me to keep letting people in.”
That’s right. Your blog, for all the talk about fashion and music and tattoos, was very personal. I remember that you did several Vlogs (video blog posts) where you talked specifically about your personal feelings in the microwave of a presidential election. That’s never been done before, certainly not by the daughter of the candidate. What kind of reaction did you get? What were you expecting?
“I don’t look, talk or act the way some people think a politician’s daughter should and I have never tried to hide that. I always tried to keep my blog as unfiltered as possible, no matter what I was talking about. Being “unfiltered” is what makes a blog, good.
I think that to a certain degree there was a generational gap with my blog and vlogs that many older people didn’t seem to understand. I also believe there was a cultural gap between people in D.C. who just didn’t get it and lots of people everywhere else who seemed to think it was fun and innovative.”
Looking back on the campaign, what would you say was the high point of the experience for you, what was the low point and what surprised you the most?
“There were so many high points, it’s hard to even narrow it down.
Winning New Hampshire and the Republican convention stick out the most. The only time I have ever cried on television was when my Dad took the stage to accept the nomination. It will be one of the proudest moments of my life. As for New Hampshire, winning was incredible and the only reason why we even made it to the convention.
The lowest point for me was the infamous New York Times article.
As for what surprised me most, I guess it was the pro-Obama media bias that I perceived. I think it’s hard to dispute a media bias when, at the conclusion of the campaign, Time Magazine’s D.C. bureau chief joins the Obama administration. That’s just one example. I hope this changes in the future and journalism can somehow go back to its intended purpose.
On a lighter note, I was also surprised at some of the reaction to my GQ magazine interview where I discussed my love of Dita Von Teese. I still get asked about that article and yes, I think Dita Von Teese is spectacular and everything she does is genius. Her book still sits on my coffee table.”
If you could change one thing about the election what would it be?
“Nothing, it was the most liberating experience of my life and I am such a different person now than I was when I started the blog. It was truly an invaluable experience and I sit here today as an incredibly proud daughter and member of the Republican Party.”
So, no comment on the selection of Governor Sarah Palin as Senator McCain’s running mate?
“Sarah Palin is the only part of the campaign that I won’t comment on publicly.”
You’ve been around the highest levels of U.S. politics your whole life. Why should young men and women get involved in public service and what advice would you give them?
“My mom and dad have worked really hard to try to make a difference in the lives of people around the globe. And, to a large extent, I think their hard work has paid off and I think that they have been very fortunate to make a difference. Obviously, public service gives you a platform to try to do that.
My advice for young people thinking about public service would be: Have the courage to try new solutions, fight for what you believe is right, don’t be afraid to admit when you’re wrong, and always know there are new opportunities to serve around the corner!
No matter what happens in the media or tough allegations one may have to endure, public service done right can make a huge difference.”
Can we expect you to run for public office at some point?
“No thank you.”
So, where might we find Meghan McCain in five years?
“I don’t even know where you will find Meghan McCain in five days!”
Finally, “Jelly Shoes” in 2009: In it to win it? Or over it?
“I wore “Jelly Shoes” in fifth grade when I was twelve. I love feeling glamorous when it comes to fashion, so no, there is no chance I will be wearing “Jelly Shoes” in 2009. Also, I’m only 5′2, the only time you won’t find me in heels is when I’m swimming!”