The stunning transformation of Meghan McCain

Meghan McCain has made a name for herself. You know her face. You know her last name. But how much do you really know about the late Sen. John McCain's outspoken daughter?

Meghan McCain burst onto the political scene in 2007, the year her famous father launched his second campaign for president of the United States. Though he had previously run for the executive office seven years prior in 2000, McCain's 2008 presidential bid is most remembered. And much like her dad, Meghan McCain also made quite the impression in the historic 2008 campaign season and election. 

John McCain might not have won the election, but Meghan McCain certainly won a hot seat in American pop culture — for better or for worse. Since 2008, the politician's daughter has managed to stay relevant, thanks to talk show appearances, books and blogs she's authored, and controversial remarks and stances (that even her Republican peers take issue with). Here's a look at the wild ride that's been Meghan McCain's life. 

Meghan McCain's dad was taking her to polls at 15 days old

Meghan McCain may have started taking politics seriously in 2008, but the political seeds were planted much earlier in life for this politician's daughter. 

Born on Oct. 23, 1984, Meghan McCain had no way of knowing as a child that her life would be a politically charged roller coaster ride. But her mom and dad, Cindy and John McCain, seemed to have an idea. McCain took to her personal Instagram page on April 20, 2018, to post a photoset featuring black and white photos of her parents and herself from when the middle McCain daughter was just a baby.

While all of the pictures are adorable, one particular photo offers a bit of insight as to why McCain is the outspoken political commentator that she is today. "No one should wonder why I ended up interested in politics when my Dad was taking me to the polls at 15 days old," McCain captioned the post. So cute!

Arizona has been a special part of Meghan McCain's life since childhood

Meghan McCain married Ben Domenech on Nov. 21, 2017, at the McCain family ranch in Cornville, Ariz. — a secluded safe haven that played an important part throughout McCain's childhood. 

"This beautiful valley has some special meaning because that's where we spent all our time with our kids growing up," Senator John McCain said of his daughter's sentimental wedding locale (via People). He continued, saying, "The wedding was a celebration of life and also a chance for us to revisit and celebrate the past."

According to a 2019 Elle profile of the talk show cohost, Meghan McCain's early years were spent camping, hiking, and talking politics with her family in Arizona. Grief-stricken in the wake of her father's death, McCain found herself unable to return to her childhood home. In an April 2019 Instagram post dedicated to her dad, McCain wrote, "I miss you every single day. I still can't go back home to Arizona."

However, in July 2019 (via Arizona Republic), McCain revealed that she would finally be "going home to Arizona," thanks to a push from her mother, Cindy McCain. 

Meghan McCain has been called "John McCain in a dress"

Meghan McCain has never been one to shy away from expressing her admiration and appreciation for her famous father. However, McCain will be the first to admit that she and her politician dad didn't always agree. "I'm an Independent. Socially liberal, economically conservative," McCain revealed in 2008 interview with GQ. She continued, "I believe in a lot of Republican ideals, with the war being the number one thing I completely agree with my dad on."

Despite some of their more opposing opinions, Cindy McCain told GQ that her husband and daughter were more alike than they were different. "They're both very intelligent and very direct in terms of ... knowing what they want and knowing how to get there," John McCain's wife revealed to GQ. According to The New York Times, Meghan McCain's mother even sometimes refers to her daughter as "John McCain in a dress."

"We're both very strong-willed and ambitious, and I think we have a similar sense of humor," the politician's daughter told the NYT in a 2010 interview. She continued, "I think we both live our lives kind of fearlessly and without apologizing."

Meghan McCain was humiliated when her father revealed her teenage crush on TV

There's nothing quite as exhilarating as having a crush on someone as a teenager — and there's definitely nothing quite as embarrassing as your father revealing your crush's name on national television.

While discussing T.I.'s controversial remarks about accompanying his teenage daughter to the gynecologist to ensure she hadn't been sexually active, Meghan McCain slammed the rapper for shining a spotlight on his daughter's private life on The View in 2019. " I know what it feels like to have a dad who everybody knows," McCain said. The host continued, revealing that her own father had once humiliated her by revealing one of her secrets on national television. 

"My dad, when I was 14, went on Firing Line and talked about how I had a crush on Leonardo DiCaprio," McCain recalled. After showing the clip of her father spilling the beans about her DiCaprio crush, McCain admitted, "This is different [than the T.I. situation], but I died." She continued, "I was like, 'I can't believe you would discuss the man I love,' because I love Leonardo DiCaprio."

Meghan McCain was fired from her dad's campaign for being too "controversial"

Plenty of people have been fired from their jobs, especially when they're just starting out in their careers. However, the list of people who have been fired from their jobs while working for their parents is probably quite short. That said, you can add Meghan McCain's name to the latter list. 

In 2007, just a year before her father really hit the ground running in his second presidential campaign, Meghan McCain was determined to help her dad widen his appeal to younger voters. And at only 22 years old, she was the perfect person to tackle the challenge. She started a blog, McCainBlogette, in an effort to reach a younger, more digitally-inclined audience — but her attempt at helping her dad ultimately proved to be futile. Readers just weren't taking well to the McCain daughter's honesty, sass, or sense of humor.

McCain told The New York Times that she was surprised by the negative reaction, saying, "I just thought I was doing a fun thing, and that everyone would want to get in on it." Unfortunately, such was not the case. Just a little over a year later, her father's campaign manager banished McCain and her "entourage" from her dad's presidential campaign for being "too controversial."  

Meghan McCain was called "unnaturally fearless for a politician's daughter"

In addition to being a political commentator and columnist, Meghan McCain is an author. McCain published her first book, My Dad, John McCain, on Sept. 2, 2008 — only months before the historic election that would see her father lose the presidency to Barack Obama. Her second book, Dirty Sexy Politics, was published two years later in 2010 –  a far cry from her debut, politically correct, kid-friendly read. 

In 2012, McCain teamed up with actor and comedian Michael Ian Black to publish America, You Sexy B***h: A Love Letter to FreedomWhile it's certainly not a book McCain would have put her name on while her father was running for office, it does offer a unique perspective on her childhood, political beliefs, and relationship with her father. 

In the book, McCain praises her parents for allowing her to enjoy a "traditional childhood with more freedom." She reminisces on getting dirty, climbing trees, going hiking, and getting stitches as a kid — and credits those experiences for the firecracker she became. "I truly believe [...] growing up in the Wild West [gave] me an independent perspective. One of my father's strategists once described me as 'unnaturally fearless for a politician's daughter.'"

Sarah Palin made Meghan McCain cry

Who can forget Sarah Palin? She's the woman who can see Russia from her house. She's the woman who solidified Tina Fey as one of the great impressionists of our time. She's the woman who... made Meghan McCain cry?

The year was 2008. Meghan McCain was 23 years old and working on her father's second presidential campaign. John McCain hadn't yet announced a running mate, but he was about to. Like the rest of the country, Meghan McCain was in for a surprise. Before John McCain's running mate announcement, media outlets were buzzing with names of candidates likely to be chosen by the presidential hopeful, including Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge and Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. So when he announced Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, many people were understandably shocked — even his own daughter.

In an interview with Jay Leno (via HuffPost), McCain recalled her initial shock upon hearing the announcement. "My initial reaction was, 'Who the hell is Sarah Palin?' Like everybody else," the politician's daughter revealed to Leno, "I had no idea who she was and I was actually crying on the bus on the way to the [announcement] rally."

Meghan McCain went from politics to Playboy

In March 2012, four years after John McCain lost the 2008 presidential election, Meghan McCain was featured in Playboy. And though she remained completely clothed for her Playboy appearance, it seemed McCain was ready to shake off any sort of good girl, politician's daughter image the general public might have projected on her. 

The most interesting part of McCain's Playboy appearance was not her photos, but her interview (no — really). The blonde beauty participated in the magazine's famous "20 Questions," and her answers were candid, to say the least. In a surprise to absolutely no one, her father wasn't exactly thrilled to read his daughter's risqué responses. 

In an interview with Politico, Meghan McCain recalled how her father took issue with her Playboy debut. "He was not pleased at all," she said. "That's actually one of the few fights we've ever gotten in about things I've done publicly." 

Meghan McCain: "Don't call me fat"

With all the pictures and billboards of photoshopped models that constantly bombard us throughout our day-to-day lives, it can be difficult to feel 100 percent assured and confident in ourselves and our bodies. Some people seem to think that public figures are free game for finger-pointing and name-calling — even if the offender is a public figure themselves. Just ask Fox News host Glenn Beck. 

In 2011, Beck took to his radio show to diss Meghan McCain's appearance in a public service announcement regarding skin cancer prevention and screenings. Beck repeatedly pretended to vomit while talking about McCain, saying, "When I look at that picture [of McCain], I think to myself, I get the point, put some extra clothes on."

McCain was not impressed. The blonde bombshell penned an article for The Daily Beast directed at Beck, titled "Don't Call Me Fat," writing, "As a person known for his hot body, you must find it easy to judge the weight fluctuations of others, especially young women." Need some ointment for that burn, Beck?

Meghan McCain encouraged Trump to run for office in 2011

You might have Meghan McCain to thank for having this man in the Oval Office.

In 2011, 26-year-old McCain was a columnist for The Daily Beast, a politics and pop culture-focused news and opinion website. She'd often use her Daily Beast platform to write about issues that mattered to both the Republican party and herself, writing, among others, articles with titles like "Cut It Out, Internet Bullies." So it was no surprise in 2011 when McCain interviewed Donald Trump for one of her Daily Beast articles — though the piece seems eerily predictive now. 

In the April 2011 article, McCain questions if Trump is serious about running for president, praising his rising poll numbers. She even goes as far as to ask Trump for a job, saying, "If you run for president, will you hire me for your campaign?" Trump's response? "I like the idea! I love it!" But he didn't hire her after all.

Meghan McCain isn't your typical Republican

Like father, like daughter — but in Meghan McCain's case, this apple falls a little farther from the tree than most. John McCain was a Republican, through-and-through. His daughter, Meghan McCain, identifies as a Republican as well — but this gal holds some beliefs that differ greatly from those of her fellow party members.

One of her differing beliefs concerns climate change — an issue of which many Republicans seemingly tend to doubt the graveness. Meghan McCain, however, counts herself as one of the Republicans who definitely does believe in the seriousness of climate change — and she's not afraid to make it known. After Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc in 2012, McCain took to Twitter (via The Hill) to ask GOP members if the natural disaster had changed their minds on the issue of climate change, writing, "So are we still going to go with climate change not being real fellow republicans [sic]?" 

Another issue McCain feels strongly about is marriage equality, telling Variety, "I think any anti-equality rhetoric will be lethal [to the Republican party]."

Meghan McCain is making her voice heard loud and clear

In September 2017, it was announced that Meghan McCain would be joining the ABC daytime talk show The View as a regular host. 

The announcement of McCain's high-profile new gig came soon after the surprise announcement that Jedediah Bila, The View's famously conservative co-host, would be leaving the program — effective immediately. It seemed the show, which has had many controversial moments in its history, was prepared to replace Bila with someone even more famous for her conservative, sometimes controversial viewpoints. McCain, for her part, did not disappoint. 

Since joining the talk show as a co-host, McCain has certainly made her voice and opinions heard loud and clear — quite literally. In February 2018, McCain found herself in a "screaming match" with co-host Joy Behar (a noted Democrat) over John Kelly's reported knowledge regarding White House aide Rob Kelly's alleged spousal abuse. Similarly, in May 2018, McCain caused her co-hosts' tempers to flare when she used Michelle Wolf's Correspondents' Dinner speech as an example of how conservatives are unfairly bullied by the media. Meghan McCain has also had a long list of feuds over the years. One thing's for sure — this gal knows how to make a statement! 

The cancer diagnosis Meghan McCain's father received was a "nuclear bomb"

Even though they've had their fair share of differences, Meghan McCain was famously close with her father. When he was diagnosed with brain cancer in July 2017, his daughter was understandably distraught. 

As People reported, after undergoing surgery to remove a blood clot above his eye, John McCain was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer — the same cancer, in fact, that caused the untimely death of Joe Biden's son, as well as Ted Kennedy. Meghan McCain was in the midst of planning a November 2017 wedding to Ben Domenech, so she was already pretty stressed — but her father's cancer diagnosis put everything into perspective for the to-be bride. "I felt like a nuclear bomb went off in my life," McCain told People about her father's diagnosis. "I was a mess. I was barely functioning." 

According to McCain, she and Domenech were planning to elope before her father's tragic diagnosis, but decided instead to share their ceremony with their closest family and friends. "[The diagnosis] brought into focus how important it was for Meghan to have her dad see her get married," Domenech said. 

Following her father's death on Aug. 25, 2018, Meghan released a powerful statement that said, in part: "I was with my father at his end, as he was with me at my beginning. In the thirty-three years we shared together, he raised me, taught me, corrected me, comforted me, encouraged me, and supported me in all things ... All that I am is thanks to him. Now that he is gone, the task of my lifetime is to live up to his example, his expectations, and his love."

Meghan McCain credits her strength to her father's strictness

Senator John McCain died on Aug. 25, 2018, following a highly publicized battle with glioblastoma — the most aggressive type of brain tumor. At his funeral, Meghan McCain delivered a heartfelt eulogy, praising the former prisoner of war for his fortitude. 

In her emotional speech (via CNN), McCain recalled being thrown from a horse as a child and breaking her collarbone. According to McCain, after taking her to the doctor, her father immediately took her back and made her "get back on that very same horse." Said McCain, "I look back across that time and see the expression on his face when I climbed back up and rode again, and I see the pride and love in his eyes as he said, 'Nothing is going to break you.'"

Weeks before her father passed away, McCain spoke with Glamour, revealing she'd often wondered why her dad had been as strict with her, his daughter, as he'd been with her brothers. However, in the midst of his cancer battle, she said she'd finally found her answer. "I realize now he did it so I could survive this," McCain told the publication.