Meghan McCain Has 'More Compassion' for Sarah Palin 'Than Ever' — and Remembers 'Weird' Call with the Trumps

"It's a short period of time for such a major fall from grace," McCain says of Palin in her new audiobook, Bad Republican

Meghan McCain; Sarah Palin
Meghan McCain (left), Sarah Palin. Photo: Theo Wargo/Getty Images; Noel Vasquez/Getty Images

Meghan McCain is reflecting on her changing opinion of Sarah Palin, the Alaska governor-turned-vice presidential nominee-turned-conservative personality whom her dad chose as his running mate for their unsuccessful 2008 campaign.

In her new audio memoir, Bad Republican, the 36-year-old McCain says that she has "more compassion toward [Palin] now than ever before."

"Maybe it's because I'm older. Maybe it's because I see more clearly now how women are treated in the media," McCain says.

While she says she was quizzed about Palin, 57, frequently in the months and years immediately following the campaign, these days, "No one asks me about Sarah Palin anymore."

From her audiobook: "I find that notable, because there was a time in my life where I couldn't go anywhere without people asking about her, and now I never hear her name. It's a short period of time for such a major fall from grace."

"In some ways," McCain believes, Palin "got a raw deal."

Meghan McCain
Meghan McCain. Greg Endries/Bravo

"She was plucked from obscurity and thrown into the national spotlight and treated s------- by the mainstream media. Some of it she brought on herself. But looking back on it, a lot of people were violently unkind," the former View co-host continues, singling out "conspiracy theories" about the true parentage of her youngest son, Trig.

McCain doesn't have fond memories of every moment with Palin, however, saying that the former Alaska governor "thought she was invincible, and that she was going to be the next president. Over a period of time, she may have been able to, but she didn't rise to the occasion back then."

As McCain notes, Palin's vice presidential run was plagued by gaffes including an infamous interview with Katie Couric that was later satirized on Saturday Night Live.

In more recent years, Palin has appeared on reality TV and worked as a right-wing commentator.

In her own memoir Stronger, Cindy McCain, Meghan's mom, wrote that Palin's absence from her late husband John's life when he was sick ultimately led to her exclusion from John's memorials after he died in August 2018.

A Palin source told PEOPLE, however, that Palin and Meghan had been in touch: The source shared an email exchange from December 2017 in which Palin wrote, "Please know we're praying for you, your mom, your brothers, sister … please give the Senator a big hug from us."

Meghan responded, in part, "Thank you so much for this kind note. … I will make sure to pass on your prayers and good wishes."

Meghan McCain, Donald Trump
From left: Meghan McCain and Donald Trump. Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic;

Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, meanwhile, made headlines when they attended John's Washington, D.C., funeral.

In her audiobook, Meghan recounts seeing Ivanka and Jared at the ceremony, saying that she was incredulous that they came given how Ivanka's father had disparaged Meghan's dad.

"It never even crossed my mind that they would come," Meghan says in Bad Republican. "Why would you go to something like that? It seemed audacious even for them. When I saw them, I thought, I hope that this is the most uncomfortable moment of your entire life."

Meghan also shares details about an "uncomfortable" conversation she had with former President Donald Trump, who attacked Sen. McCain in life and in death.

When her father was sick, Meghan says she got a phone call from the White House saying the president wanted to speak to her about one such reported criticism. At the request of her father, she took the call.

For more from Meghan McCain, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, or subscribe here.

"Trump didn't apologize, but he said the reporting [about what he said] was wrong. I just stayed quiet and listened to him talk," McCain says in her book. "Then [First Lady] Melania [Trump] got on the other line and said, 'We love you! We love your dad!' "

Meghan continues: " 'No, you don't,' I said. It was the weirdest experience, because Trump had said so many things on the record trashing my dad, and now he was telling me that I shouldn't be mad about it. He wouldn't change his tactics, either. He would go on to talk about my father over and over again, always in derogatory ways."

Bad Republican is available now on Audible.

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