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Meghan McCain speaks about ‘redefining Republicans’ at UMass

mccain croppedThis evening, the University of Massachusetts’ Republican Club will be hosting Meghan McCain, the eldest daughter of 2008 Republican presidential candidate John McCain, at 6:30 p.m. in Bowker Auditorium. McCain’s talk, entitled “Redefining Republican: No labels. No boxes. No stereotypes.,” will discuss the Republican brand and its evolving image.

Justin Thompson, Vice President of the Republican Club who helped book McCain, said that the club “wanted to show people that the Republican Party is not as coercive as people think. There are moderate Republicans.”

At 24 years old, McCain has been a public figure for a large portion of her life. She supported her father during his campaign for president against Barack Obama, and is known for speaking in a way that does not always strictly adhere to Republican Party lines.

The Republican Club wanted to set a different tone with this speaker. Republican Club President Derek Khanna said, “You have this internal debate going on right now, and I think Meghan McCain is the perfect person to bring to this campus because she represents a vision of the Republican Party going forward that has a broad base of appeal.”

McCain will speak and then take questions from the crowd at the conclusion of her remarks.

Khanna acknowledged that in the past, the Republican Club had brought some divisive figures to campus. “There are definitely going to be some elements of the Republican Club that aren’t going to be happy with Meghan McCain,” said Khanna, referencing the fact that many in his club might not think McCain is conservative enough.

Charlie Felder, president of the University Democrats (UDems), is planning to attend as much of the event as he can.

Both Felder and Khanna – who have been friends since freshman year – said that a feeling of divisiveness has embodied much of the campus debate in recent memory. 

“We are sick of all [the] hateful writing in the newspaper; we are sick of all the nastiness,” said Felder.

Meghan McCain is a contributing columnist for the Daily Beast. She has written columns with headlines like, in reference to Ted Kennedy, “Why The Lion of the Left was Right.”

In that column, she says, “As I listened to [Kennedy’s] friends, family and Senate colleagues – including my father – tell stories of the man they knew, what was so evident was that Ted Kennedy always believed you could find compromise on the really important matters.”

McCain has also addressed the Log Cabin Republicans – a group of gay Republicans – and is often derided as a Republican in name only. She responds that it is people like her who are the future of the Republican Party, and issues like gay rights should be embraced.

During the 2008 presidential campaign, John McCain touted his status as a “maverick” – a person who is not afraid to stick up for his own convictions and go against his party if he feels the need. Khanna feels that Meghan McCain has inherited this independent mind-set.

McCain also published a children’s book during her father’s campaign entitled “My Dad, John McCain” that told the story of his life.

Some conservative commentators, such as Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin and Ann Coulter, think that Meghan McCain’s views of the Republican Party are counter-productive to the party’s interests.  In a column entitled “My Beef with Ann Coulter,” McCain said that she does not care for Coulter’s offensiveness, and that she can’t tell if Coulter is “for real.”

McCain was raised in Phoenix, Ariz., where her father has been a U.S. senator since 1987. She graduated from Columbia University in 2007 and regularly blogs about everything from her views of the Republican Party to the difficulties of dating after her father lost the election.

Recently, McCain has been making a number of appearances. She was a guest on The Colbert Report in May 2009 and has guest-hosted The View.

While some of McCain’s beliefs do not align completely with the Republican Party platform, McCain was quoted in a recent release stating that she does believe government is best, “when it stays out of peoples’ lives and business as much as possible.”

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