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Meghan McCain speaks at Bowker Auditorium

Meghan McCain – the daughter of 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain – spoke at the University of Massachusetts Wednesday about the future of the Republican Party, stressing themes of inclusiveness and civility as vital for the party’s future.

McCain’s speech, titled “Redefining Republican: no labels, no boxes, no stereotypes,” was sponsored by the UMass Republican Club. “I’m not saying to abandon the core ideas [of Republicanism],” said McCain. “I’m asking the Republican Party not to be so stubborn and closed minded.”

There are some ideas that McCain believes do not comply with the more conservative elements of the party, her advocacy for gay marriage being an example. McCain said that a person like her who believes in socially progressive ideas is still a valuable voice in the Republican Party.

McCain’s speech lasted 17 minutes. The majority of her time was spent after her speech taking questions from the audience on everything from health care to John McCain’s campaign to the importance of broadening the Republican image.

McCain’s talk started with a clip of her on the Colbert Report back in May where – in his normal archconservative character – Colbert joked, “by the end of this interview we are going to make you a Republican.”

There was some bitterness however, when McCain was asked to answer why she called herself a Republican.

“It’s very insulting for me to have to go down this litmus test of detail, by detail, by detail. I can give you three reasons right now: health care, the war in Iraq, and I’m very pro life.”

For the upcoming presidential race in 2012, McCain thought that the Republican Party would either go socially conservative – with a nominee like Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas – or more fiscally conservative with someone like Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts.

There was a combination in McCain’s talk of discussing the future of the Republican Party and her experience as the daughter of John McCain. A member of the audience asked her about her views on torture, her reply came, not out of a hard and fast policy line, but of a more personal nature.

“My dad couldn’t pick me up as a kid or teach me how to ride a bike,” she said, trying to demonstrate that, after her father was tortured for five years in Vietnam, she thought that torture was never acceptable. “It’s what separates us from the terrorists.”

McCain has received criticism from members of her party that have at times been personal in nature. She cited some who had “complained about the way my ass looked in a pair of jeans,” as an example of what is wrong with the way debate is carried out in politics.

According to McCain, her treatment has not gotten any better lately now that Barack Obama is president. “Republicans and Democrats seem to be even less able to get along with each other,” she said, citing Joe Wilson yelling, “You lie!” at President Obama during an address to a joint session of Congress.

She linked the theme of civility back to her own ability to be a member of the party that would not receive criticism for supporting policies like gay marriage or well-funded sex education in schools. McCain said that “if we bring back civility into politics, it won’t be so hard to be like me.”

McCain voted for John Kerry for President in the 2004 election and said that one of her political idols was Barry Goldwater.

UMass students have protested some previous speakers that have been sponsored by the Republican Club. Don Feder spoke at UMass last spring about his thoughts on the faults in hate crime laws. He stopped speaking after he was yelled at by a number of people who attended his talk. Meghan McCain did not garner any protest and her talk went along uninterrupted.

Bowker Auditorium – the location of McCain’s speech – was about half full to see McCain’s presentation that was open to the public, free of charge.

Derek Khana, President of the UMass Republican Club, opened for McCain at the conclusion of the Colbert Report clip. His remarks centered around McCain’s important perspective – as an insider to her father’s campaign and not an elected official – that gave her the opportunity to speak honestly and compellingly about the Republican Party’s future.

“[McCain] understands the political necessities of tomorrow,” said Khana.

Failing to see how more government control in health care would be a positive, McCain dismissed the ideas that are being proposed by Democrats in the often-contentious health care debate.

The future tended to be the most important theme of her talk. McCain spoke of the importance of using the Internet and engaging young people in the future of politics. “Being a Republican is not the coolest thing right now,” she said. “The older generation is just going to have to starting making room.”

McCain has two brothers who are serving in the military. When asked by a member of the audience whether or not, knowing what we know now, we should have gone to war in Iraq she replied, “I don’t think it matters [why we went in].” She is supportive of the efforts of the United States in that country.

At just 24 years old, McCain graduated from Columbia University in 2007 and spoke of her time on the campaign trail – learning the ins and outs of politics and the process – citing it as her version of graduate school. Through her experience, McCain provided small stories of the campaign trail and her experiences meeting some of the most interesting political operatives in the nation. Facts that were previously not widely known – such as her father’s fear that Ron Paul might pull off something spectacular in the New Hampshire primary – gave a rare first hand glimpse into John McCain’s 2008 run for President.

Questions were put forward, inquiring into her views on one issue compared to another, but the main focus of her speech was not so much on specific issues like health care and gay marriage, but on the overall direction of the Republican Party.

“I don’t believe I’m the lone spokesperson in the room,” she said of the future of the party. She spoke about the importance of young people in the political process.

“[The] youth felt they really truly mattered [in 2008] and they delivered,” she said. “Only for the wrong guy.”

Mike Phillis can be reached at mphillis@student.umass.edu.

Comments
4 Responses to “Meghan McCain speaks at Bowker Auditorium”
  1. Ed says:

    Forget everything else: she received how many thousand dollars of SATF money and only spoke for 17 minutes?????

    There are CSD rules being ignored here. There are contract clauses as to how long a speaker must speak and it is more than this!!!!

    Second, Alana Goodman nailed it this morning, Meagan McCain wouldn’t be famous if it weren’t for her trashing her own party. There used to be a name for such people: Treasonous Traitors. Such folks used to be shunned, but then the schmucks currently running the UMRC would themselves be shunned in an earlier era.

    Third, the dumb blond is also wrong. Who was the most popular Republican in the 2008 race? Sarah Palin. And what was Sarah Palin — a populist. Who was the most popular (and victorious) Democrat in the same race? B. H. Obama. And he, too, is a populist.

    We are back in the age of populism. The winners in 2010 and 2012 will be populists. So sorry my dear dumb blond, you are history…

    Now, how many of us would have loved to have seen Meagan McCain debate Alana Goodman…. I know which young lady my money would be on…

  2. Robert Davis says:

    Ed,

    Maybe you should find out exactly which rules/contracts are being violated and post them with your response, and if you care enough, file a complaint. Then, you could consider not calling someone a “dumb blonde” because you disagree with them, and instead say “I disagree with her views. Sometimes it’s hard to be civil when you hate people, but if you want more than to vent, and for people to listen to anything you say, it’s necessary. Unless of course, you’re only writing towards a handful of people who already think the same as you.

    As for Meghan not being famous if she didn’t trash her own party, this might be true. She probably also wouldn’t be famous if she wasn’t John McCain’s daughter. George W. Bush probably wouldn’t have been President if not for his father. Fame doesn’t really matter if someone has something to say. Because someone disagrees with certain Republican views, you find her to be a traitor? Do you truly want to be in a party, or a country, where there is only way for everything, and anyone who is not in line is shunned? What if this were the case, and it wasn’t your ideas which reigned supreme? You would agree, then, that you are the traitor, as an American who doesn’t agree with those in power?

    I read so many of these conservative comments (and articles), and I have to wonder how so many of you have gotten so hateful and childlike. I haven’t seen name calling like this since the year I taught after school fifth graders. You’re supposed to be grown up. Adults, or near to them. Try and use the past 12+ years of schooling you’ve had to conceptualize your thoughts onto paper, instead of calling someone “a dumb blonde”. It’s amazing how much more credible you are when you put a little bit of effort into what you have to say. Why not just say “she was wrong for these reasons” instead of calling her names?

    On a side note, don’t try to twist words to make your “opponent” wrong.

    “Third, the dumb blond is also wrong. Who was the most popular Republican in the 2008 race? Sarah Palin. And what was Sarah Palin — a populist. Who was the most popular (and victorious) Democrat in the same race? B. H. Obama. And he, too, is a populist.”

    It’s obvious that when saying to “the most popular Republican” in the 2008 presidential race, Meghan was referring to the most popular presidential nominee. It would be refreshing if you, and those who write comments/articles in the same fashion, would be straightforward, and write their views in a civil manner. That they might do some research and come up with a coherent argument. That they don’t replace such arguments with hate and insults. That they have respect for other human beings.

    -Robert Davis

  3. Ed says:

    Maybe you should find out exactly which rules/contracts are being violated and post them with your response, and if you care enough, file a complaint.

    Maybe I should just call the Mass State Ethics Commission. Partisan political speaker funded by SATF monies – this is illegal.

    Then, you could consider not calling someone a “dumb blonde” because you disagree with them, and instead say “I disagree with her views.

    She has to HAVE views before I can disagree with them.

    Do you truly want to be in a party, or a country, where there is only way for everything, and anyone who is not in line is shunned?

    NO! And that is why I have left the Republican Party, why I am no longer affiliated with the UMass Republican Club (RIP), and why I so detest folk like Meaghan McCain.

    I read so many of these conservative comments (and articles), and I have to wonder how so many of you have gotten so hateful and childlike.

    Ummm…. 8 years of hateful and childlike attacks on us? Why, exactly, should we be more respectful to your guy than you were to ours?

    It’s obvious that when saying to “the most popular Republican” in the 2008 presidential race, Meghan was referring to the most popular presidential nominee.

    And I am referring to the most popular Republican overall. Sarah Palin. A populist….

  4. Robert Davis says:

    “Maybe I should just call the Mass State Ethics Commission. Partisan political speaker funded by SATF monies – this is illegal.”

    If you feel it is illegal, than do so. There’s no point crying about it here if you don’t care enough to act.

    “She has to HAVE views before I can disagree with them. ”

    I am sure she has some views, and if she doesn’t, then why don’t you argue that, instead of throwing out the “dumb blonde” comments? Actually attack her lack of views, or conflicts within her ideas.

    “Ummm…. 8 years of hateful and childlike attacks on us? Why, exactly, should we be more respectful to your guy than you were to ours?”

    That has more to do with your own morals and principles than anything else. But one reason is that perhaps you felt it was wrong, so you decided to use more sophisticated and factual arguments instead of trying to be exactly what claim to dislike?

    “And I am referring to the most popular Republican overall. Sarah Palin. A populist….”

    That’s fine and dandy. You used it as a reason of her being wrong. She was not wrong, because she were clearly not talking about the same thing. You are more than welcome to have that opinion on Sarah Palin though.

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