GOP Catfight Gets Personal -- John McCain Defends Daughter

Meghan McCain lashes back at conservative radio host who called her "plus-sized"

March 17, 2009, 7:41 AM

March 17, 2009— -- A woman's weight is a touchy subject. But when women engage in a war of words it can be an effective way to hit someone where it hurts.

That may be why Meghan McCain, the daughter of Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, is lashing out at conservative radio commentator Laura Ingraham who got personal in the middle of an ongoing GOP catfight by calling Meghan McCain "plus-sized."

"Everyone from Tyra Banks to Oprah [Winfrey] to Hillary Clinton to my mother -- why are we so obsessed with weight?" Meghan McCain said Monday on ABC's "The View." "That's what I feel like right now, I'm like 'Kiss my fat a--.'"

Even her father got in on the act today during a "Twitterview" with ABC News' chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos.

"I'm proud of my daughter and she has a right to her opinions," John McCain said.

As for his daughter's politics, he said, "Like any family we agree on some things and disagree on others."

The latest waistline headline came after Ingraham mocked the 24-year-old on the airwaves.

It started when Meghan McCain criticized Ingraham's fellow conservative Ann Coulter in her online column. Meghan McCain said she was "offensive, radical, insulting and confusing."

Ingraham struck back on Coulters' behalf -- in a fierce way.

"I was really hoping that I was going to get that role in 'The Real World,' but then I realized that, well, they don't like plus-sized models," she said, mocking a recent Meghan McCain on-air comment in a lilting voice. "They only like the women who look a certain way."

Ingraham also questioned whether anyone would even be talking to her if "you weren't kind of cute and you weren't the daughter of John McCain."

Meghan McCain said she's a size 8, but hit a size 10 during her father's presidential campaign -- that's when someone handed her a plastic surgeon's business card and suggested she get liposuction.

She may not be waiflike, but she doesn't fit the nation's definition of "plus-sized." The average American woman is between a size 12 and a size 14.

"What do young women think when I speak my mind about politics and I want to have a political discussion about the ideological future of the Republican Party and the answer is she's fat and shouldn't have an opinion," Meghan McCain said on "The View." "What kind of message are we sending women?"

'A Fight for Women'

Meghan McCain certainly isn't the first woman to be publicly criticized for her weight and she won't be the last.

Model and talk show host Tyra Banks launched a series of shows on self-esteem after photos of her surfaced in the tabloids with headlines such as "America's Next Top Waddle." Meghan McCain said it was Banks that inspired her to fight back against Ingraham's words.

"It's not even so much a fight against the tabloids," Banks told "Good Morning America." "It's a fight for women."

Often, experts say, it's women who are the most vicious to other women.

"Any woman in the public eye knows there's this danger of being judged for your appearance rather than your ideas," said Courtney E. Martin of and the author of "Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters." "Women who get into this competitive sexist mentality use that weapon against one another."

Jessica Simpson was recently slammed for her weight gain after appearing at a Florida chili cook-off wearing high-waisted jeans and a form-fitting top.

Actress Jennifer Love Hewitt and "Dancing With the Stars'" Cheryl Burke both defended their curves when they got called out in the tabloids for gaining weight, but both have slimmed down since.

"You know, just having to, have been battling with that since I was a little kid. It does hurt," Burke, a size 4, told "Good Morning America." "But I know that I'm not fat. But when people keep telling me that, you obviously have to, you know, think about it."

Celebrities, Martin said, "make money off of their physical representation so when they get criticized in the public eye that's their bread and butter. They're trying to stay within a system that pays their mortgage every month."

Meghan McCain said that she's not looking to lose weight, but that her dress size should not be part of any political debate.

"There's no place for weight criticism of women in 2009," she said on "The View." "There's no place for it."

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