When I first met Meghan McCain, she was locked out of a high school in Greendale, Wisconsin. Her father, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain, was inside speaking at a rally, and Meghan wanted to be there for him but couldn't. So what did she do? She laughed. It seemed like the best way for the 23-year-old, who is crossing the country by bus to help her dad's run for the White House, to respond. No matter whom you plan to vote for, it's refreshing to see a young woman enjoying herself so thoroughly on the political trail. Here, the would-be first daughter in her own words.
1. She is who she is--no apologies
"Politicians often teach their kids to control what you say and not to trust. My parents just taught me: Be who you are."
2. Her choice in guys might surprise you "I don't want to be an accessory to a guy's impending political career, and unfortunately I get that a lot. I'm not attracted to guys with political action committees, I'm sorry.... I'm attracted to men whose realities are different [from mine]. You'll get a lot further with me talking about art and music than you will talking about politics.... And I'd really hate myself if I dated a journalist."
3. She gets crazy pickup lines "[Once, a guy said,] 'Baby, I could totally give you a tour of the Capitol.' In fairness, he didn't know who my dad was. I just said, 'Really?'"
5. She has a great body image "I got to a point where I was like, I just don't care. You think I'm fat? Fine. I don't care how much you weigh."
6. She sees herself as a mentor "I'm a role model to my little sister [Bridget, who's 17]. The last [thing] I'd ever want her to think is that it's OK to be stupid and not involved. I want her [to know] that you can do it all--you can like fashion and clothes and movies but also be highly involved."
7. She's a former Independent "I almost registered as a Democrat to be rebellious, but I registered as an Independent instead. Then my dad bragged about it, so it backfired. [In June, as a Father's Day gift to her dad, she reregistered as a Republican.] ...I don't relate to the hard right. I think that's common knowledge. It's time to reinvent the Republican Party. And I think my dad can do it."
8. It's not "the war" to her--her brother was in Iraq "[When my brother Jimmy was deployed,] saying goodbye to him was like an out-of-body experience. It was all these kids--they looked like I could babysit them--with guns and bags...and everyone's crying. I just totally broke down, which I hadn't done up to that point. I was like, 'Just come back safe, come back, you're going to be fine.' And then at the last minute, I was like, He could die. It was this really intense experience. I don't think anyone knows the military like my dad, and that's what's made me put my heart into the campaign."
9. She's her father's daughter "It's difficult for me when I read bad press. I'm his daughter, and I'm a total daddy's girl. I go on dates and guys are like, 'Oh, you really look like John,' and I'm like, 'As I get older, I'll look more like him. [Laughs.] You could actually be dating John McCain.'"
10. But she's also like her mom "I try to be like her. She's so composed. I'm learning from her; she never shows all her cards. I've had to learn the hard way not to tell my life story to every journalist."
11. You won't see her on a ticket anytime soon "I would help run a campaign, but I would never run for office. I've seen how it affects families, and I'd like to have one someday."
12. She's having a ball on the campaign trail "It's been the best time of my life. [I've got] my family; I've got my two great friends with me; I get to meet interesting people. When I found out about the campaign, I went to my friends and said, 'My dad's running for president. Want to come?'"