Reagan and Goldwater Would Be Considered 'RINOs' Today, Says Meghan McCain; CNN Doesn't Challenge Her Claim

Meghan McCain apparently thinks there will be a "bloodletting" in the GOP in the next election, because the party has no room for controversial socially liberal figures like her.

Appearing on CNN's "American Morning" Thursday, McCain criticized the current state of the Republican Party, which she believes is too conservative and narrow-minded to include more moderate and independent thinkers like herself. This focus, McCain warned, will cut down on the number of party voters.

When the subject of "RINOs" (Republican-In-Name-Only) surfaced, McCain asserted that conservative icons Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan "would both be called that today." In addition, McCain had dark predictions for the GOP in the "next election," predicting a party purge of sorts. "I'm scared of a bloodletting in the next election," McCain worried.

CNN co-anchor Kiran Chetry did not challenge McCain's questionable claims, but rather set up the podium for her to criticize the Republican Party. "Are you afraid that the party is changing or going in a direction that's going to leave it in the dust when it comes to attracting young people?" Chetry asked.

Chetry also back-handedly criticized Republican female candidates who have avoided the media spotlight. Referencing Meghan McCain's father Sen. John McCain, Chetry noted his openness to interviews in the 2008 campaign.

"These candidates are sort of not doing that in this time around, Christine O'Donnell and others," Chetry complained. "Sharron Angle has been difficult to get to interview, as well. Is that doing a disservice though to finding out what they do if they truly are elected?"

McCain said the GOP needs to have a bigger tent, or the young vote will abandon the party. "If you're throwing out people like me who really want to be here and really want to fight for the Republican Party and I'm considered controversial, there's a lot of people out there, especially young people, that aren't going to beg to be able to be allowed to be in the Republican Party."

A partial transcript of the interview, which aired on September 30 at 8:12 a.m. EDT, is as follows:

CHETRY: One of the things that you talk about in your book is that, you know, the ultimate freedom – you said, once you taste freedom, that's what you seek, and that was a lot of the ideals behind the Republican Party. And you said that some of these people who we hold up – Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan – would be called RINOs, Republican In Name Only, these days, because of candidates – are you afraid that the party is changing or going in a direction that's going to leave it in the dust when it comes to attracting young people?

MCCAIN: Oh, yeah. I'm scared of a bloodletting in the next election. If you're throwing out people like me who really want to be here and really want to fight for the Republican Party and I'm considered controversial, there's a lot of people out there, especially young people that aren't going to beg to be able to be allowed to be in the Republican Party. And I think that's what really dangerous right now.

And if you only want a certain group of people, you're just going to innately have less voters. So, that's where I get confused about what people are actually thinking when they call me RINO or -- you know, Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan would both be called that today.

CHETRY: And why is that? Is it social issues? I mean, what is galvanizing people to vote for some of the more conservative and more to the right candidates? Christine O'Donnell, you were displeased that she was talking about, you know, personal sexuality and sort of trying to enforce -- not enforce but sort of insert herself into that whole debate about what you do in the privacy of your own home.

(...)

CHETRY: The other thing that I thought was interesting is there's been a lot of questioning about the intelligence. I mean, Karl Rove got in a little bit of trouble and took some heat for saying "I don't know. She says whacky things. Does she really understand the principles speaking?" of Christine O'Donnell, but people also launch this against Sarah Palin, and said she just maybe doesn't have the smarts to represent our country. Is that a woman thing or are these faults on the part of the individual candidates?

(...)

CHETRY: That's right. But when you say a better job, if candidates aren't granting access -- I mean, I remember during the campaign, I interviewed your dad one-on-one, I interviewed him at campaign events in New Hampshire, he came on our show dozens of times to answer questions that, you know, we were asking but really the broader public wanted to know. These candidates are sort of not doing that in this time around, Christine O'Donnell and others. Sharron Angle has been difficult to get to interview, as well. Is that doing a disservice though to finding out what they do if they truly are elected?
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014