John Tlumacki/Globe staff
WASHINGTON -- On the day her father won the New Hampshire primary in 2008, Meghan McCain feared she would be arrested for removing Mitt Romney campaign signs from a Nashua street corner.
"Stealing campaign signs is technically illegal, but I never thought anyone would enforce this. Nor did I expect we'd get caught," McCain confesses in her memoir, "Dirty Sexy Politics," which is released today.
McCain writes that she "had gotten pretty sick" of seeing Romney's signs, particularly a cluster she and friends suspected had been strategically placed outside the McCain campaign's hotel. After stashing several of them in a car trunk, McCain was confronted by a passer-by – and later plotted with her mother's hairstylist to take the fall if local authorities pursued the matter.
"Anybody who was lame enough to pull over and harass people on election day for stealing signs was probably lame enough to follow up and bring some New Hampshire state troopers to arrest me," she writes.
McCain, now a 25-year old columnist for the Daily Beast web site, was a campaign surrogate and author of an insouciant election-year blog during her father's second run for the presidency. She never heard from law enforcement about the signs, or any of the other not-entirely-shocking behavior she recounts in the book.
But she does acknowledge a "minor obsession" with Romney, a primary-season rival whom she considered the "the politician whom I most loved to watch and ridicule."
Nevertheless, McCain writes that -- for reasons of political convenience -- she expected her father would choose Romney as his running mate, even as she treated the former Massachusetts governor and his family as a foil in the Republican culture wars.
"My roommates and I had lots of jokes about the Romneys, who seemed doomed to join the campaign any second. They were all so handsome, in a tooth-whitener commercial kind of way, and so seriously wholesome," McCain writes.
"We wondered whether the Five Brothers, the nickname for the Romney sons, could handle the constant drinking and swearing that went on in our campaign – the press corps included," she goes on. "Not to mention all the tawdry stories about crazy-sex you never read about."
Despite deep enmity between the two camps during the primaries, Romney quickly endorsed McCain's candidacy after his own withdrawal and worked hard on the Arizona senator's behalf, earning a place on the eventual nominee's short list for the vice-presidential nomination.
"It was hard to adjust to nice thoughts about Romney," McCain writes, "or to stop laughing at him."
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.