Meghan McCain Has Offbeat Campaign Blog

By: AP
By: AP

WASHINGTON - "McCain Blogette" seems an oxymoron: a senior citizen and his presidential campaign chronicled by the Facebook generation.

This is the goal of John McCain's daughter Meghan and her Internet diary, http://www.mccainblogette.com. Meghan, 23, offers an insider's view, offbeat and sometimes surprisingly intimate.

While the Web site is about a campaign, it is not about issues and rarely mentions other candidates. Rather, it is intended to make her parents, and politics, seem more real.

There is a message for anyone worried her 71-year-old father is too old: "I have yet to see Dad take a nap on the trail," Meghan writes under a picture of herself napping.

A different photo shows Meghan demanding, arm outstretched, that her father hand over the candy bar he wants to eat for dinner.

Meghan uses backstage images to spotlight her father's sense of humor: cracking up with former President Bush just before Bush endorses him and snapping tongs at the camera as he grills for journalists at home in Sedona, Ariz.

There is a photograph of her mother, Cindy, barefoot in pink polka-dotted pajamas, having her hair taken down the night McCain clinched the nomination in Dallas. Meghan also reveals that her mother, chairwoman of a family beer company, knows if a beer is fresh "depending on the taste."

Meghan decided to blog about the campaign, with help from a couple of friends, after graduating last year from Columbia University.

Her Web site mixes behind-the-scenes photos and videos from the campaign trail with iPod music playlists, designer fashion, even makeup tips.

It can be addictive, says Julie Barko Germany, director of the Institute for Politics and the Internet at George Washington University.

"It feels almost like picking up a copy of Us Weekly — real stars, they're just like us!" Germany said.

The site shows her father through a younger lens, making him seem, if not more hip, then definitely less crotchety, said Germany, whose husband works for McCain's campaign.

Occasionally, there's something revealing.

On the night The New York Times published a story suggesting McCain had an extramarital affair with a lobbyist, John and Cindy McCain were silent. They waited until morning to hold a carefully coordinated news conference in which McCain emphatically denied the story, which offered no direct evidence of an affair.

But just after the story broke, Meghan posted a few thoughts that provided a glimpse into how her family must have been feeling. She did not mention the story but made an emotional defense of her father.

"Having grown up in politics, I know it's an industry that, for all intents and purposes, is known for being dirty and cruel," she wrote.

"Why do I choose to be involved in politics right now? Because my father is different," she wrote. "He's compassionate, full of life, hilarious and is a beacon of integrity to myself and to so many others. Politics is rough, but I absolutely adore my Dad and this campaign and have never, ever stopped believing in him."

In some ways, the Web site is similar to the now-defunct "Five Brothers" blog that was part of Republican Mitt Romney's campaign.

Romney's five sons used their blog to poke good-natured fun at him. Son Matt made a prank phone call, ostensibly from California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger: "Who's your daddy, and what does he do?" the governator demanded of Romney in what was really an audio clip from "Kindergarten Cop."

The "Five Brothers" blog drew attention and lured viewers to the campaign Web site. It may even have generated support for the candidate, said Colin Delaney of Epolitics.com, an online politics and advocacy Web site.

Voters seem to make decisions "based on personality at least as much as policy," Delaney said. "And if a blog gives them a view into someone's personality that they didn't have before and helps to create a personal connection, that may help to turn the casual visitor into an actual supporter."

Unlike the Romney blog, "McCain Blogette" is independent from the campaign. So independent, the campaign said it could not answer who pays for Meghan and her two friends to travel on campaign planes and buses. A spokeswoman for Meghan did not respond to inquiries.

The Romney sons' site was reminiscent of the "Brady Bunch" or "Leave it to Beaver." Meghan's site reflects the influence of "Sex and the City," but without the sex and cynicism of that TV show. She does, however, capture its irreverent humor and preoccupation with shoes, even in the drawing that serves as the Web site's logo — a silhouetted young woman with a laptop computer, legs crossed, in red stiletto pumps a la Carrie Bradshaw.

Shoes are definitely a theme: Meghan's designer boots, Schwarzenegger's ostrich cowboy boots, Henry Kissinger's black loafers. Under the picture of Kissinger's feet, she writes, "Who doesn't want to know what kind of shoes Dr. Kissinger wears?"


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