Here’s what went down last night at GWU’s Jack Morton Auditorium where The Daily Beast’s and Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) daughter Meghan McCain was speaking. Despite “strict” rules that no regular media was to cover her speech, many of us had the bright idea to persuade GWU students to serve as our spies. The event was not full, but was well attended. All recording devices were instructed to the off position for the speech.
Our spy is a GWU student and longtime friend to FishbowlDC. The student ardently took notes for us and we thank him. These are the highlights:
“When controversy happens, I’m a little taken aback.”
“My speech tonight is about civility” – it’s ironic in that some College Republicans protested.
“What the hell happened to free speech?”
On HLN’s Joy Behar:
“I love Joy Behar even though she’s a big Democrat.”
On Rep. Joe Wilson’s outburst:
“I was taken aback” at Joe Wilson’s “You lie” – the President “didn’t deserve that”.
On Jon Stewart:
“Incivility is everywhere we turn. Most especially in the political arena. What would Jon Stewart talk about” if he wasn’t “handed this on a silver platter.”
“Hell Yes – fear politics is bad for America.”
“I’m not saying the Republicans should abandon the core ideas that the Republican party was built on.”
“But just as in nature, we [the GOP] must evolve or die.”
“Do my father and I talk about Sarah Palin [with each-other]? Never.”
“I registered as an independent to rebel against my” father. “I voted for Kerry in 2004.”
About her traveling on the McCain campaign: “My definition of grad school.” “I cried, I laughed.”
One person she really liked on the campaign was McCain’s strategist Charlie Black: “A pretty stereotypical Republican: old white male lobbyist.” “Bonded with him over our shared love of White Castle burgers and dirty jokes.”
“Politics brings out the best and worst in us.”
On the media:
“I’m not trying to be a pundit or a Fox News host.”
“The media isn’t doing its job of asking our leaders” the tough questions.” By stirring up controversy, it makes for “better ratings, better TV, a lot less work for the media.”
“MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann is doing as much damage as Rush Limbaugh. Please, the Keith’s and Rush’s of the world: pipe down.”
She was asked (not by me) why the event was closed to the media: “I think student journalists should get first dibs.”
Speaking about attacks on her, she said they are “intense and surprisingly personal.”
She talked a good deal about Laura Ingraham’s attacks on her: “I refuse to be a victim.”
Later, she says that “She [ie Ingraham] started this.”
Some Republicans think “you have to pass a litmus test” to be in the party.
“We won’t be kicked out of the party or silenced.”
She’s “depressed” when watching the news.
When speaking about gay rights, “it’s not a Republican or Democratic issue: it’s a civil rights issue. I really want to be on the right side of history.”
On the health care bill:
“The health-care bill has scared the shit out of me.”
When asked about which politicians besides her dad that she likes, she mentions Sens. Lieberman and Graham: “They’re rock stars.” Also, “I like Congressman Shock; he is young and getting people’s attention.”
She was asked about what dating was like for her being the daughter of a prominent politician: she half-jokingly “I hate it…It’s hard” since she’s a young public figure.
Also read the Washington Examiner’s take on the speech here. They also had a spy.
Read Politico’s report here, which features news from GWU’s student newspaper, The Hatchet.