This story contains the transcript of two exclusive interviews with Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin conducted over two days by ABC News' Charlie Gibson on Thursday, September 11 and Friday, September 12.
To view excerpts from the second interview also conducted in Fairbanks, Alaska, on September 11, 2008, click here and to view excerpts from the third interview conducted at the Palin home in Wasilla, Alaska, on September 12, click here.
The following set of excerpts immediately below are from the first Gibson-Palin interview on September 11, 2008 in Fairbanks, Alaska. Excerpts from the second interview follows and are labeled as such.
GIBSON: Governor, let me start by asking you a question that I asked John McCain about you, and it is really the central question.
Can you look the country in the eye and say "I have the experience and I have the ability to be not just vice president, but perhaps president of the United States of America?"
PALIN: I do, Charlie, and on January 20, when John McCain and I are sworn in, if we are so privileged to be elected to serve this country, we'll be ready. I'm ready.
GIBSON: When McCain asked you to take the number two spot on the ticket, for a moment, did you think no?
PALIN: I did not. I thought yes right off the bat, knowing that John McCain was looking for a reformer, a partner in this mission of his to change Washington, D.C. and to usher in positive change across our country.
I knew that he was looking for someone who shared his world view even on the war and on how important it is to be victorious in this war. So knowing that, when he offered me the position as his running mate, the first thing I said to him was, "Do you really think that I could help the ticket? Do you really think that I could help this country? Absolutely, I want to do this with you."
GIBSON: And you didn't say to yourself, "Am I experienced enough? Am I ready? Do I know enough about international affairs? Do I -- will I feel comfortable enough on the national stage to do this?"
PALIN: I didn't hesitate, no.
GIBSON: Doesn't that take some hubris?
PALIN: I -- I answered him yes because I have the confidence in that readiness and knowing that you can't blink, you have to be wired in a way of being so committed to the mission, the mission that we're on, reform of this country and victory in the war, you can't blink. So I didn't blink then even when asked to run as his running mate.
GIBSON: Governor, how does six years as the mayor of a small town and less than two years as governor of a sparsely populated state give you sufficient experience to perhaps be president?
PALIN: Remember, again, what John McCain was looking for in a running mate -- someone who has a track record of reform, someone who doesn't just talk the talk, but has proven that she can walk the walk with reform.
That's what I did in that small town as the mayor, as the manager of a community, and what I have done as the governor of the state of Alaska, just not accepting status quo and politics as usual when it wasn't in the best interest of our state. Remember that that is who he was looking for, a partner in reform, and knowing that that is the way I'm wired, that is my commitment, also, I think he made the right decision there in his partner.
GIBSON: But this is not just reforming a government. This is also running a government on the huge international stage in a very dangerous world. When I asked John McCain about your national security credentials, he cited the fact that you have commanded the Alaskan National Guard and that Alaska is close to Russia. Are those sufficient credentials?
PALIN: But it is about reform of government and it's about putting government back on the side of the people, and that has much to do with foreign policy and national security issues.
Let me speak specifically about a credential that I do bring to this table, Charlie, and that's with the energy independence that I've been working on for these years as the governor of this state that produces nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of energy, that I worked on as chairman of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, overseeing the oil and gas development in our state to produce more for the United States.
What I bring in terms of that credential is the know-how, how we can get to energy independence and a greater security for our nation by producing more domestically, by becoming less and less reliant on foreign sources of energy, those being controlled by regimes that do not necessarily like America.
GIBSON: You don't think we're ever going to reach energy independence, do you?
PALIN: We absolutely can, Charlie. But it's not just...
GIBSON: We consume, Governor, 25 percent of the world's energy and we have three percent of the world's natural resources. Now, you can't get to energy independence...
PALIN: You're talking about...
GIBSON: Not even the oil companies believe that.
PALIN: You're talking about a small percentage of nonrenewable resources in petroleum and in hydrocarbon. What we need to start focusing on -- and that's what I've done as governor here, also, and it's via funding hundreds of millions of dollars towards alternative energy projects, conservation, weatherization, those things that Americans should be doing right now to wean ourselves off the conventional sources of energy.
It's going to take an all together approach to get us towards that energy independence. Now, if, in the near future, we still are not there -- and you're right, Charlie, it's going to take decades before America actually gets there where we are not looking at our allies to be working with us on energy production to help energize our economy and energize our globe. But we've got to take the steps today to get us on that right path, and that's what we've done here in the state of Alaska.
GIBSON: National security is a lot more than energy. Let me ask you, have you ever given any kind of a command decision to the Alaskan National Guard?
PALIN: We have called up National Guardsmen to help in other states who have gone in emergency status, we have assisted there. But, Charlie, there is an inherent link between energy and national security.
GIBSON: I know, I'm just saying that national security is a whole lot more than energy.
PALIN: It is, but I want you to not lose sight of the fact that energy is a foundation of national security. It's that important. It's that significant. And when we are a country at war today, some reason for war is because these regimes use energy sources as a weapon. It makes absolutely no sense to embrace the status quo and just stay on the path that we are on now and not lead us, our country, toward that energy independence that will secure our nation.
GIBSON: Did you ever travel outside the country prior to your trip to Kuwait and Germany last year?
PALIN: Canada, Mexico, and then, yes, that trip, that was the trip of a lifetime to visit our troops in Kuwait and stop and visit our injured soldiers in Germany. That was the trip of a lifetime and it changed my life.
GIBSON: Have you ever met a foreign head of state?
PALIN: There in the state of Alaska, our international trade activities bring in many leaders of other countries.
GIBSON: And all governors deal with trade delegations.
GIBSON: Who act at the behest of their governments.
PALIN: Right, right.
GIBSON: I'm talking about somebody who's a head of state, who can negotiate for that country. Ever met one?
PALIN: I have not and I think if you go back in history and if you ask that question of many vice presidents, they may have the same answer that I just gave you. But, Charlie, again, we've got to remember what the desire is in this nation at this time. It is for no more politics as usual and somebody's big, fat resume maybe that shows decades and decades in that Washington establishment, where, yes, they've had opportunities to meet heads of state.
What we need in this country is a change from politics as usual. We've traveled around this country together, John McCain and I, in this last -- these last couple of weeks and it has been overwhelming to me that confirmation of the message that I have been believing in for years as a local elected official, then a state official, and now running on a national ticket, that message of confirmation that Americans are getting sick and tired of that self-dealing and kind of that closed door, good old boy network that has been the Washington elite.
That is the change that people want and it was confirmed to me in these last couple of weeks of travel.
GIBSON: Let me ask you about some specific national security situations.
GIBSON: Let's start, because we are near Russia, let's start with Russia and Georgia. The administration has said we've got to maintain the territorial integrity of Georgia. Do you believe the United States should try to restore Georgian sovereignty over South Ossetia and Abkhazia?
PALIN: First off, we're going to continue good relations with Saakashvili there. I was able to speak with him the other day and giving him my commitment, as John McCain's running mate, that we will be committed to Georgia. And we've got to keep an eye on Russia. For Russia to have exerted such pressure in terms of invading a smaller democratic country, unprovoked, is unacceptable and we have to keep...
GIBSON: You believe unprovoked.
PALIN: I do believe unprovoked and we have got to keep our eyes on Russia, under the leadership there. I think it was unfortunate. That manifestation that we saw with that invasion of Georgia shows us some steps backwards that Russia has recently taken away from the race toward a more democratic nation with democratic ideals.
That's why we have to keep an eye on Russia. And, Charlie, you're in Alaska. We have that very narrow maritime border between the United States, and the 49th state, Alaska, and Russia. They are our next door neighbors.We need to have a good relationship with them. They're very, very important to us and they are our next door neighbor.
GIBSON: What insight into Russian actions, particularly in the last couple of weeks, does the proximity of the state give you?
PALIN: They're our next door neighbors and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska.
GIBSON: What insight does that give you into what they're doing in Georgia?
PALIN: Well, I'm giving you that perspective of how small our world is and how important it is that we work with our allies to keep good relation with all of these countries, especially Russia.
We cannot repeat the Cold War. We are thankful that, under Reagan, we won the Cold War, without a shot fired, also. We've learned lessons from that in our relationship with Russia, previously the Soviet Union. We will not repeat a Cold War. We must have good relationship with our allies, pressuring, also, helping us to remind Russia that it's in their benefit, also, a mutually beneficial relationship for us all to be getting along.
GIBSON: Would you favor putting Georgia and Ukraine in NATO?
PALIN: Ukraine, definitely, yes. Yes, and Georgia.
GIBSON: Because Putin has said he would not tolerate NATO incursion into the Caucasus.
PALIN: Well, you know, the Rose Revolution, the Orange Revolution, those actions have showed us that those democratic nations, I believe, deserve to be in NATO. Putin thinks otherwise. Obviously, he thinks otherwise, but...
GIBSON: And under the NATO treaty, wouldn't we then have to go to war if Russia went into Georgia?
PALIN: Perhaps so. I mean, that is the agreement when you are a NATO ally, is if another country is attacked, you're going to be expected to be called upon and help. But NATO, I think, should include Ukraine, definitely, at this point and I think that we need to -- especially with new leadership coming in on January 20, being sworn on, on either ticket, we have got to make sure that we strengthen our allies, our ties with each one of those NATO members.
We have got to make sure that that is the group that can be counted upon to defend one another in a very dangerous world today.
GIBSON: And you think it would be worth it to the United States, Georgia is worth it to the United States to go to war if Russia were to invade.
PALIN: What I think is that smaller democratic countries that are invaded by a larger power is something for us to be vigilant against. We have got to be cognizant of what the consequences are if a larger power is able to take over smaller democratic countries. And we have got to be vigilant. We have got to show the support, in this case, for Georgia. The support that we can show is economic sanctions perhaps against Russia, if this is what it leads to.
It doesn't have to lead to war and it doesn't have to lead, as I said, to a Cold War, but economic sanctions, diplomatic pressure, again, counting on our allies to help us do that in this mission of keeping our eye on Russia and Putin and some of his desire to control and to control much more than smaller democratic countries.His mission, if it is to control energy supplies, also, coming from and through Russia, that's a dangerous position for our world to be in, if we were to allow that to happen.
GIBSON: Let's turn to Iraq. You said in 2007, you were asked about the surge and you said, "I've been so focused on state government, I haven't really focused much on the war in Iraq." Really? Somebody who wants to be vice president hasn't focused on Iraq?
PALIN: Of course, I -- of course, I've been focused on the war. Of course I've been, as every American has been...
GIBSON: Why did you say that?
PALIN: ... since 9/11. And what we're doing in Iraq today, I believe, is the right thing, as we are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the Iraqi people, fighting against Al Qaeda, fighting against Shia extremists and other terrorists who would seek to destroy Iraq's democracy, who would seek to destroy America and our allies.
What we're doing there in Iraq is working, Charlie. That surge is working and we're grateful to General Petraeus and the mission that he has implemented with the counterinsurgency strategy that's working.
And I am very thankful, as I think every American should be, for John McCain pushing for that surge, realizing it was going to take an increase in troops, it was going to take a counterinsurgency strategy to push the bad guys back, to get in there and clear the areas and hold the areas, not let them come back in, and then to start rebuilding with the Iraqi people, their infrastructure, and their civil society. We're on the right path and that victory is in sight and we can't afford to lose in Iraq. We can't afford to lose in Afghanistan, either.
But, Charlie, my concern in this presidential election, in the debates that we are hearing, is the other ticket's vision of what we are doing in Iraq and what the result should be in Iraq. Our mission is for victory so that the Iraqi people can defend themselves...
GIBSON: What's victory, in your mind?
PALIN: The Iraqi people defending themselves, acting more as a sovereign, taking care of themselves in the democratic society that they are building and desiring, and then the American troops get to come home with honor and with victory. And this is as opposed to -- this is important, I think, for the American people to start realizing what the choices are in this election.
Our world view of what's going on there in Iraq and how we should be continuing to surge and reach victory is as opposed to the Democrat ticket, where withdrawal and retreat seems to be the end game that they're reaching for.
That's not victory. What that would allow in Iraq is for Al Qaeda to have a stronghold again. That's not pushing back the terrorists.
GIBSON: Essentially, what we're doing...
PALIN: It's allowing them to grow.
GIBSON: But essentially, what we're doing is come to a withdrawal schedule that is very much on the -- along the lines that Barack Obama has been talking about, getting, basically, troops out of the cities fairly soon, bringing them home by 2011. That's all the kind of time schedule he's been talking about.
PALIN: We can't have an artificial time schedule, though. We cannot. We have to leave when the conditions on the ground mandate finally then the opportunity to leave and our commanders will tell us when we're ready to do that.
GIBSON: Why did you say this, though? "I've been so focused on state government, I haven't really focused much on the war in Iraq."
PALIN: It was an honest answer for the question that day by a reporter asking me about Alaska "Business Monthly" issues, was my focus being on energy independence and security, those things that Alaska could supply to help make this country better and safer.
GIBSON: You said recently, in your old church, "Our national leaders are sending U.S. soldiers on a task that is from God." Are we fighting a holy war?
PALIN: You know, I don't know if that was my exact quote.
GIBSON: Exact words.
PALIN: But the reference there is a repeat of Abraham Lincoln's words when he said -- first, he suggested never presume to know what God's will is, and I would never presume to know God's will or to speak God's words.
But what Abraham Lincoln had said, and that's a repeat in my comments, was let us not pray that God is on our side in a war or any other time, but let us pray that we are on God's side. That's what that comment was all about, Charlie. And I do believe, though, that this war against extreme Islamic terrorists is the right thing. It's an unfortunate thing, because war is hell and I hate war, and, Charlie, today is the day that I send my first born, my son, my teenage son overseas with his Stryker brigade, 4,000 other wonderful American men and women, to fight for our country, for democracy, for our freedoms.
Charlie, those are freedoms that too many of us just take for granted. I hate war and I want to see war ended. We end war when we see victory, and we do see victory in sight in Iraq.
GIBSON: I take your point about Lincoln's words, but you went on and said, "There is a plan and it is God's plan."
PALIN: I believe that there is a plan for this world and that plan for this world is for good. I believe that there is great hope and great potential for every country to be able to live and be protected with inalienable rights that I believe are God-given, Charlie, and I believe that those are the rights to life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That, in my world view, is a grand -- the grand plan.
GIBSON: But then are you sending your son on a task that is from God?
PALIN: I don't know if the task is from God, Charlie. What I know is that my son has made a decision. I am so proud of his independent and strong decision he has made, what he decided to do and serving for the right reasons and serving something greater than himself and not choosing a real easy path where he could be more comfortable and certainly safer.
What my son and every other American man and woman serving in uniform today has decided to do voluntarily is to serve something greater than self, to do all that they can in where they are in life today to protect America. And I ask, Charlie, am I doing the same? Are you -- are all Americans, are all elected officials doing the same? Are we on par with what these young men and women are ready to do for us to protect our country?
GIBSON: Let me turn to Iran. Do you consider a nuclear Iran to be an existential threat to Israel?
PALIN: I believe that under the leadership of Ahmadinejad, nuclear weapons in the hands of his government are extremely dangerous to everyone on this globe, yes.
GIBSON: So what should we do about a nuclear Iran? John McCain said the only thing worse than a war with Iran would be a nuclear Iran. John Abizaid said we may have to live with a nuclear Iran. Who's right?
PALIN: No, no. I agree with John McCain that nuclear weapons in the hands of those who would seek to destroy our allies, in this case, we're talking about Israel, we're talking about Ahmadinejad's comment about Israel being the "stinking corpse, should be wiped off the face of the earth," that's atrocious. That's unacceptable.
GIBSON: So what do you do about a nuclear Iran?
PALIN: We have got to make sure that these weapons of mass destruction, that nuclear weapons are not given to those hands of Ahmadinejad, not that he would use them, but that he would allow terrorists to be able to use them. So we have got to put the pressure on Iran and we have got to count on our allies to help us, diplomatic pressure.
GIBSON: But, Governor, we've threatened greater sanctions against Iran for a long time. It hasn't done any good. It hasn't stemmed their nuclear program.
PALIN: We need to pursue those and we need to implement those. We cannot back off. We cannot just concede that, oh, gee, maybe they're going to have nuclear weapons, what can we do about it. No way, not Americans. We do not have to stand for that. What I would like to see, Charlie, is for America to recapture -- in the days of Reagan, remember, we had captured this -- the exceptionalism of America, America being able to be counted on with our allies and then, you know, that's got to be mutual, though, but we need to be able to count on them, also.
But America being able, because we are a generous nation and we are a nation of values and of ideals, where we can afford to share these values to other more repressed areas across our globe, that's what America is going to be reformed into, and I look forward to being a part of that.
GIBSON: What if Israel decided it felt threatened and needed to take out the Iranian nuclear facilities?
PALIN: Well, first, we are friends with Israel and I don't think that we should second guess the measures that Israel has to take to defend themselves and for their security.
GIBSON: So if we wouldn't second guess it and they decided they needed to do it because Iran was an existential threat, we would be cooperative or agree with that.
PALIN: I don't think we can second guess what Israel has to do to secure its nation.
GIBSON: So if it felt necessary, if it felt the need to defend itself by taking out Iranian nuclear facilities, that would be all right?
PALIN: We cannot second guess the steps that Israel has to take to defend itself. Charlie though, the premise there, it sounds to me, is that your belief, perhaps, just based on this question, is that we would ever get to this point. This is why it is so important that American military and our intelligence is better than anybody else's on this globe, so that we can help with our allies and we can put pressure on other nations to make sure we never see a scenario like that.
Again, I repeat, war is hell, not just a war that America would be involved in, but a war anywhere on our globe and America can afford to assist in diplomacy across this globe to every nation to make sure that we never get to that point that you're referring to.
GIBSON: But, Governor, I come back to our intelligence agencies can't agree as to how far the Iranians have gotten toward a nuclear weapon. Indeed, some intelligence agencies say they stopped in 2003. Others think they've been going ahead. It is a problem that we have not been able to solve by threatening more sanctions.
PALIN: We've got to follow through on sanctions and we have got to be strong...
GIBSON: You don't think the Bush administration has been?
PALIN: ... and we have got -- and we have got to win in the war surrounding Iran, also, and we have got to not accept Ahmadinejad's pressure that he exerts on other democratic nations. It is unacceptable. Here's what scares me. Again, let me go back to the democratic ticket, because the issue here, again, is choices that Americans have in this presidential race. OK? The other ticket starts talking about meeting with Ahmadinejad or other leaders that are volatile, that are dangerous, with no preconditions.
What scares me about that, and it should scare other Americans, also, is if we did meet with and just chatted with, sat down and met with leaders who are dangerous, like Ahmadinejad, what we're doing is validating some of the evil mission that they are on.
That's unacceptable. That's not going to happen under a John McCain administration. That's something that's important for Americans to keep in mind. Let them make up their own mind, of course, their own decision on whether preconditions are set before an American leader meets with an evil dictator in another nation or not, but Americans have to be reminded. You have a stark contrast in what John McCain would do and what Barack Obama would do.
GIBSON: We talk on the anniversary of 9/11. Why do you think those hijackers attacked? Why did they want to hurt us?
PALIN: You know, there is a very small percentage of Islamic believers who are extreme and they are violent and they do not believe in American ideals, and they attacked us and now we are at a point here seven years later, on the anniversary, in this post-9/11 world, where we're able to commit to never again.
That's why we have taken the fight over there to where Al Qaeda is, where the Shia extremists are, where those would seek to destroy democracy, America, her allies. We took the fight over there. We cannot afford to lose over there. We cannot retreat and concede. We have to keep pushing, keep surging, keep implementing that counterinsurgency strategy that has worked. We can't afford to lose there. We can't afford the stronghold of terrorists to take place there or in Afghanistan.
GIBSON: Why is it so easy to refer them -- to recruit suicide bombers in the Palestinian territories, in Iraq and Afghanistan, in Pakistan?
PALIN: That's a great question. What it leads me to believe is that too many people have no hope. They don't see opportunity for anything but death and darkness and following and evil regimes. It's very unfortunate. It's going to take perhaps generations to get even a mindset change on this, but it's important that we take the steps towards peace and towards providing opportunity and hope for these young men especially who don't see opportunity for family or career or anything else.
They see that the only option for them is to become a suicide bomber, to get caught up in this evil, in this terror. They need to be provided the hope that all Americans have instilled in us, because we're a democratic, we are a free, and we are a free-thinking society.
GIBSON: What do you do as vice president to turn around what is a very tarnished reputation of the United States around the world?
PALIN: You know, another good question, Charlie, because in some regions of the world, unfortunately, they don't look favorably upon Americans and I think in my job as vice president, I can and I will do all that is possible to restore our reputation as...
PALIN: ... that country...
PALIN: ... of exceptionalism. We need to continue to be a generous nation and we are. Look what we're doing in Africa with the humanitarian efforts, not necessarily just government efforts, but enabling and embracing the private sector and charitable organizations to be in Africa to help with the poverty, to end corruption there, to help with the disease, to eradicate disease in Africa. America needs to keep doing that. We need to do this with a bipartisan effort.
And back to Africa, thankfully, that's already underway. We have President Clinton and President Bush to thank for the efforts there, putting politics aside and just doing what America can do to help. We need, also, though, to walk the walk, not just talk the talk, not just sitting around in grandiose conference rooms with world leaders talking about how we're going to support you and we're going to help eradicate disease and we're going to do those things that maybe your country can't do for itself right now.
America is in a position of generosity. We can -- we have to prove it. We have to manifest our commitment to these countries and, again, we can't just rely on government to do that. In fact, heaven forbid we rely on government to find solutions to the world's problems solely. It's got to be individual Americans.
GIBSON: One more area...
GIBSON: Do you agree with the Bush doctrine?
PALIN: In what respect, Charlie?
GIBSON: The Bush -- well, what do you -- what do you interpret it to be?
PALIN: His world view.
GIBSON: No, the Bush doctrine, enunciated September 2002, before the Iraq war.
PALIN: I believe that what President Bush has attempted to do is rid this world of Islamic extremism, terrorists who are hell bent on destroying our nation. There have been blunders along the way, though. There have been mistakes made. And with new leadership, and that's the beauty of American elections, of course, and democracy, is with new leadership comes opportunity to do things better.
GIBSON: The Bush doctrine, as I understand it, is that we have the right of anticipatory self-defense, that we have the right to a preemptive strike against any other country that we think is going to attack us. Do you agree with that?
PALIN: I agree that a president's job, when they swear in their oath to uphold our Constitution, their top priority is to defend the United States of America. I know that John McCain will do that and I, as his vice president, if we are blessed with that vote of the American people and are elected to serve and are sworn in on January 20, that will be our top priority -- is to defend the American people.
GIBSON: Do we have a right to anticipatory self-defense? Do we have a right to make a preemptive strike against another country if we feel that country might strike us?
PALIN: Charlie, if there is legitimate and enough intelligence that tells us that a strike is imminent against American people, we have every right to defend our country. In fact, the president has the obligation, the duty to defend, and that's what a McCain-Palin administration would do.
GIBSON: Do we have the right to be making cross-border attacks into Pakistan from Afghanistan, with or without the approval of the Pakistani government?
PALIN: I think the Pakistani government, especially now under Zardari, they're going to welcome our assistance as we work on a mutually beneficial mission here in trying to get Osama Bin Laden out of their mountains. I think that that's going to be one of the things that we work on with the Pakistani government.
Now, as for our right to invade, we're going to work with these countries, building new relationships, working with existing allies, but forging new, also, in order to, Charlie, get to a point in this world where war is not going to be a first option. In fact, war has got to be, a military strike, a last option. We're only going to be able to do that if we forge these relationships with other world leaders and if we strengthen our alliances and if we start building new alliances.
GIBSON: But, Governor, I'm asking you if you don't have (INAUDIBLE). We said the same thing about Musharraf. We said we needed his approval, and we can see just the fact that we've got Al Qaeda reconstituted in the Waziristan area making cross-border raids into Afghanistan.
Do we need his approval or can we simply go in and go after him?
PALIN: This brings us right back to how important it is to win in Afghanistan, to make sure that the terrorist groups are not growing there. We can't afford to lose in Iraq and we can't afford to lose in Afghanistan.
And we're going to have to implement in Afghanistan a lot of the same successes, a lot of that surge solution that had been implemented and proven -- proven to be successful in Iraq. Charlie, what...
GIBSON: So more troops in Afghanistan.
PALIN: We do need more troops in Afghanistan, we do...
GIBSON: And I'm still not clear. We have the right, in your mind, to go across the border with or without the approval of the Pakistani government.
PALIN: In order to stop Islamic extremists, those terrorists who would seek to destroy America and our allies, we must do whatever it takes and we must not blink, Charlie, in making those tough decisions of where we go and even who we target.
And let me get back to what's going on there in Pakistan right now. A target needs to be Osama Bin Laden. We cannot give up our fight to find him and John McCain is committed to find him. Remember, John McCain, he said he's going to chase him to the gates of hell, if that's what it takes, to find Osama Bin Laden and to get rid of Osama Bin Laden. We know that he's in that FATA area, the Pakistan mountains, in between Afghanistan and Pakistan. We have got to make sure that we're doing all that we can to get rid of that threat, also.
GIBSON: And let me finish with this. I got lost in a blizzard of words there. Is that a yes, that you think we have the right to go across the border with or without the approval of the Pakistani government, to go after terrorists who are in the Waziristan area?
PALIN: I believe that America has to exercise all options in order to stop the terrorists who are hell bent on destroying America and our allies. We have got to have all options out there on the table. Military strike has got to be a last option. But where we are today, in a very dangerous and volatile world, all options have got to be on the table.
GIBSON: Thanks very much. It's good to talk to you. Look forward to talking to you more.
PALIN: Thank you so much. Hope you get to travel around Alaska.
GIBSON: I do, too. I do, too. Thanks.
The following is a transcript from ABC News' Charles Gibson interview with Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, along the Trans-Alaska Pipeline outside of Fairbanks, Alaska on September 11, 2008. The transcript begins in progress.
GIBSON: How much [pipeline] is over ground?
PALIN: You know, I don't know what the percentage of it is, but a lot of it is underground. Now, our natural gas pipeline that we're going to be building, most of it will be underground. What we've done though to start really making sure that the oil companies aren't skimping on the infrastructure improvements that have to take place in this pipeline because it is 30 years old and through atrophy, you know, there is going to be some corrosion, there's going to be potentially some damages. When I got into office I formed a petroleum integrity office where all we do is inspect the production, the pipeline flow making sure that there are no adverse environmental impacts.
GIBSON: You had one line shut down recently didn't you?
PALIN: BP has had some problems with corrosion and they've been shutting down once in a while, so we do have oversight that we have really ramped up so that we can prove to the rest of the nation we're going to do this responsibly, we're going to do it safely, so that more in -- especially in Congress -- will allow more lands to be unlocked in this state so that we can start producing more.
GIBSON: Governor, the gas line would come right along this same path?
PALIN: Pretty much along the same path yeah. There's some variation in some parts along this route. In fact we have two different projects that are under way at this point. The 40 - nearly 40 billion dollar natural gas pipeline that our legislature just recently approved. It's going to be the largest private sector infrastructure project in North America's history.
GIBSON: If it gets built. You put up $500 million of state money, no guarantees the thing's going to be built. PALIN: It's going to be built because there are hungry markets craving this resource, and Alaska has hundreds of trillions of cubic feet of clean, green natural gas and it's ready to flow.
GIBSON: But you're building it to ship gas that's controlled by the major energy companies and they don't want your line, I understand.
PALIN: Well, you know I haven't made a lot of friends in the oil industry, if you will, because we have said they have leases that they have held onto here in the state of Alaska, some leases for decades, and they still haven't produced in some of the fields that are rich and ripe for production. But they have a duty to develop, they have provisions in their leases, in the contracts that they signed years ago, that when it was economic, when the price was right, they'd be developing. Now the price is right, it is time to develop.
They didn't like the message that I sent there over these last two years. The people of Alaska, they have liked that message, they have understood that we as a sovereign Alaska, owning the resource underground, we have a right to hold them to those provisions in their leases. And we have a mutually beneficial relationship of course, the oil companies here in Alaska and state government. But it's state government who has the position of strength as we negotiate with these oil companies on developments. Our position of strength is our state constitution.
GIBSON: You fought the energy companies on this, but energy, oil and gas taxes really produce about 80 percent of the revenue of this state.
PALIN: Even more than that.
GIBSON: And a lot of people say this state is really in the pocket of the big energy companies.
PALIN: Well, not anymore. And we did have some rogue legislators who are serving prison time right now, Charlie, for having accepted bribes from oil service company executives. Those executives having plead guilty to corrupting lawmakers, we've broken that and that, I believe, is the reason that I got elected governor, is because I promised that we weren't going to put up with that anymore.
GIBSON: Let me talk to you a bit about environmental policy because this interfaces with energy policy and you have some significant differences with John McCain. Do you still believe that global warming is not manmade?
PALIN: I believe that man's activities certainly can be contributing to the issue of global warming, climate change. Here in Alaska, the only arctic state in our union of course, we see the effects of climate change more so than any other area with ice pack melting.
Regardless though of the reason for climate change, whether it's entirely wholly caused by man's activities or is part of the cyclical nature of our planet, the warming and the cooling trends, regardless of that, John McCain and I agree that we've got to do something about it and we have to make sure that we're doing all we can to cut back on pollution.
GIBSON: But it's a critical point as to whether this is manmade. He says it is--you have said in the past it's not.
PALIN: The debate on that even really has evolved into—okay, here's where we are now. Scientists do show us that there are changes in climate. Things are getting warmer. Now what do we do about it? John McCain and I are going to be working on what we do about it.
GIBSON: Yes but isn't it critical as to whether or not it's manmade? Because what you do about it depends on whether it's manmade.
PALIN: That's why I'm attributing some of man's activities to potentially causing some of the changes in the climate right now.
So as we work towards a cleaner, safer environment here in Alaska and elsewhere across our nation and with our allies across our globe -- what we're going to start doing is weaning ourselves off the hydrocarbons and off the petroleum and we're going to be plugging in those solutions with alternative, renewable energy sources that are cleaner. But until that time, it's going to be a transitionary time here until we get to that point. We are going to keep relying on the hydrocarbons and on the petroleums and we have to develop them safely ethically and responsibly.
GIBSON: But I -- color me a cynic, but I hear a little bit of change in your policy there when you say yes, now you're beginning to say it is manmade. Sounds to me like you're adapting your position to Senator McCain's.
PALIN: I think you are a cynic because show me where I've said there's absolute proof that nothing that man has ever conducted or engaged in has had any effect or no effect on climate change. I have not said that. I have said that, my belief is there is a cyclical nature of our planet -- warming trends, cooling trends -- I'm not going to argue scientists because I believe in science and have such a great respect for what they are telling us. I'm not going to disagree with the point that they make that man's activities can be attributed to changes.
GIBSON: ANWR -- you favor drilling in the Arctic National Refuge, he does not.
PALIN: I sure do.
GIBSON: You change him on that? He changing you?
PALIN: I'm going to keep working on that one with him. ANWR of course is two thousand acre swath of land in the middle of about a 20 million swath of land. Two thousand acres that we're asking the Feds to unlock so that there can be exploration and development and that can too help lead us to that path of energy independence. .But it's not just ANWR, it's offshore drilling also. Off-shore is where really the bulk of that gas supply especially and oil supply. And John McCain in a sign of a statesmanship pragmatic, the pragmatism also that encompasses this candidate -- I so respect his thinking there. He's really evolved into understanding why off-shore is so important and that's where the bulk of the resource is.
GIBSON: So you'll agree to disagree on ANWR.
PALIN: That's exactly right. We'll agree to disagree but I'm going to keep pushing that and I think eventually we're all going to come together on that one.
GIBSON: One other thing -- you brought up energy independence today and I made the point having just spent a lot of time with the CEO of Exxon Mobil—they don't think we're ever going to get to energy independence. They think we're going to continue to depend on fossil fuels, oil, natural gas -- do we pay too little in this country for gasoline? The Europeans pay multiples of what we pay still, as expensive as gas is here. Should we let it gravitate for the levels where we really begin to make serious conservation moves?
PALIN: Well first maybe Tillerson doesn't believe that we'll ever become energy independent in terms of only using domestic supplies of energy because Exxon has huge developments in foreign countries where they're making world record, mind-boggling profits every quarter billions of dollars in profits. So maybe we're not on the same page on whether the drive should be towards energy independence, domestic supplies of energy -- I am a strong proponent of that though. American resources with American ingenuity and new technology brought to you by Americans workers—that's what we're going to be working for in the McCain-Palin administration.
Now as for prices of fuel -- no, I don't think -- you go ask anybody who fuels up, even in the sate of Alaska -- these guys are heading out there moose hunting, they're fueling up their boats right now—trailing up to the Koakuk (ph) bases -- they're going to get in that water and start hunting moose and filling their freezer with sustenance, food—they're paying a lot for gas. They're paying nearly 5 bucks a gallon -- that's too much and a lot of it has to do with supply of course. Here in Alaska we have the billions of barrels of oil still warehoused underground. We have the hundreds of trillions of cubic feet of clean green natural gas that's underground, that's off shore. It's being flared off and reinjected right now as oil production takes place there's a lot of opportunity to tap those resources and flow them into hungry markets --- not just here in Alaska -- but across the US.
GIBSON: But we're paying far less than they are in most other places in the world. Is that right? Should we continue -- or should we let gas prices bubble up to where they are on the world market?
PALIN: No, we should not. We should supply more into these hungry markets but what Americans need to do is -- we gotta stop acting so spoiled when we talk about these nonrenewable sources of energy that we have been so spoiled in utilizing and not really caring so much that once they're gone, they're gone. We have to be cognizant of the need to conserve. So that's going to be a part of our long term energy plan also, the conservation and the weatherization too. That's what we're doing up here in Alaska. We're funding a lot with state revenues allowing people here in Alaska to conserve and weatherize their homes and their vehicles so we quit wasting so much. That's going to lead us to that energy independence also—once we quit utilizing so much of it.
The following is a transcript from ABC News' Charles Gibson interview with Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, on September 12, 2008, at the Palin home in Wasilla, Alaska.
GIBSON: Governor, John McCain and you are now talking about the GOP as a party of change. We've got a very sick economy. Tell me the three principal things you would do to change the Bush economic policies.
PALIN: And you're right, our economy is weak right now and we've got to strengthen it, and government can play an appropriate role to strengthen the economy. Our 6.1 percent unemployment rate is unacceptable, also, across our nation. We need to put government back on the side of the people and make sure that it is not government solely looked at for all the solutions, for one.
Government has got to get out of the way, in some respects, of the private sector, being able to create the jobs that we need, jobs that are going to allow for the families to be able to afford health care, to be able to afford their mortgages, to be able to afford college tuition for their kids.
Creating jobs, the private, sector, government, get out of the way in terms of regulation, high taxes, those things that are disincentives to the private sector creating those jobs -- That's got to be the principal here. Reform government; recognize that it's not government to be looked at to solve all the problems.
Taxes, of course, I think is one of the most important things that government can obviously control and to help with this issue.
Let me tell you what I did here in the city of Wasilla and then as governor of Alaska, because I think Americans need to know what the candidates' track records are in this, so that you know kind of world view on what government's appropriate role is.
Here in Wasilla, when I was elected, first, to the city council, we didn't have a police department here. We had dirt roads that we were driving on. There weren't the water and the sewer line extensions. So it's infrastructure tools that the private sector needs in order to grow and to prosper.What I did as a city council member then and then as mayor was come in and we cut personal property taxes in Wasilla. We cut small business inventory taxes...
GIBSON: But raised the sales tax.
PALIN: No -- well, we had a two percent sales tax and when people came to local government and said, "We want a sports arena here," I said, "That's fine and I want a sports arena, also, but we're going to have to pay for it." So we're going to have to prioritize for that project and you're going to have to vote yourselves in to half a penny sales tax to pay for it, the bond that would fund the sports arena. That's how we paid for that. So eliminating...
GIBSON: I'm sorry, but you didn't pay for it. You came in to the city. I didn't want to get off into Wasilla, but you came into the city with a debt-freed city and left with considerable -- millions of dollars of debt.
PALIN: A $13 million sports arena that we bonded for, but, see, we put government on the side of the people by asking them if that's what they wanted. It was a question on the ballot and they got to vote yes or no. They were willing to incur that to pay out the bond to build it, an amenity that they had desired. After talking about a sports arena in Wasilla for 30 years, I got into office and I said, "You know, let's quit talking about it. Let's take some action and let's ask voters if this really is such a high priority that they'd be willing to pay for it.
So that's what we did. We eliminated small business inventory taxes. I eliminated things like business license renewal fees on our small businesses. The real property tax rate was too high in our community. So every year I was in office, I reduced that (inaudible) -- we reduced the rates, and we have wonderful economic indicators of success.
We have paved roads. We have a strong police department. We have the water, the sewer infrastructure improvements that would invite businesses to come into our community.
So those economic indicators of success on a local level should provide to America that world view that I have of what we can do on a local level and then a state level where we just extended our fuel tax in our state, also.
Get taxes under control, but at the same time we're cutting taxes, you've got to reduce the growth of government.
GIBSON: But I want to come back to the question. I want to know, because you've advertised yourselves now as the party of change. I want to know what you would change in the Bush economic principles. What you said to be at the beginning I don't think anybody in the Bush administration would disagree with. What do you change in the Bush economic plans?
PALIN: We have got to make sure that we reform the oversight, also, of the agencies, including the quasi government agencies, like Freddie and Fannie, those things that have created an atmosphere here in America where people are fearful of losing their homes.
People are looking at job loss. People are looking at unaffordable health care for their families. We have got to reform the oversight of these agencies that have such control over Americans' pocketbook. And when we see the excess of corporate America, we see the excess of some of these agencies -- let me go back to Fannie and Freddie.
When we see Americans trusting these agencies with $5 trillion worth of our mortgages, we're trusting them to invest wisely and to not be digging themselves into such a hole that government has to come in and bail them out.
When we trust that, and yet we see the poor management that has resulted in the situation we're facing today and, at the same time, we see those managers leaving with $20 million golden parachutes, that's the type of reform that we need to stop that kind of excess. That is abuse of the American public trust and we have to reform that.
GIBSON: So let me summarize the three things that you'd change in the Bush economic plans. One, two, three.
PALIN: Reduce taxes, control spending, reform the oversight and the overseeing agencies and committees to make sure that America's dollars and investments are protected. And when these agencies and financial institutions are spending other people's moneys, government can play an appropriate role there in the stringent oversight so Americans can trust those investments.
GIBSON: So let me break some of those down. You talk about spending. How much smaller would a McCain budget be? Where would you cut?
PALIN: We're going to find efficiencies in every department. We have got to. There are some things that I think should be off the table. Veterans' programs, off the table. You know, we owe it to our veterans and that's the greatest manifestation that we can show in terms of support for our military, those who are in public service fighting for America. It's to make sure that our veterans are taken care of and the promises that we've made to them are fulfilled.
GIBSON: So you'd take military off the table and veterans' benefits. That's 20 percent of the budget.
PALIN: Veterans' benefits should be off the table.
GIBSON: Take entitlements off the table or would you reform Social Security?
PALIN: We need to -- we need to get into every department, every division, and that's what's going to be the task of cabinet members and then the next level of bureaucracy and the next level of bureaucracy. We're going to count on the public officials to join our team. The mission is reform. We're not going to just embrace the status quo and just assume that, ah, it's really difficult to do.
No. We're going to get in there and we're going to say there will be change. And if you don't want to prioritize department heads, division heads, bureaucrats, if you don't want to prioritize, then we're going to replace you and we're going to find people who are capable of doing it and want to do it with us.
GIBSON: I'm trying to get specifically. You're saying you'd take military off the table. Do you talk about entitlement reform? Is there money you can save in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid?
PALIN: I am sure that there are efficiencies that are going to be found in all of these agencies. I'm confident in that.
GIBSON: The agencies are not involved in entitlements. Basically, discretionary spending is 18 percent of the budget.
PALIN: We have certainly seen excess in agencies, though, and in -- when bureaucrats -- when bureaucracy just gets kind of comfortable, going with the status quo and not being challenged to find efficiencies and spend other people's money wisely, then that's where we get into the situation that we are into today, and that is a tremendous growth of government, a huge debt, trillions of dollars of debt that we're passing on to my kids and your kids and your grandkids -- It's unacceptable. And it's time for change there. And that's what the American people are asking for.
Charlie, I think that is the American people's will right now. Remember the foundation of our entire government needs to be government being on the side of the people; government being inherently the will of the people implemented. And maybe I'm wrong, but I believe that the American people, their will at this time, is to see efficiencies, reigned in government, so that the private sector and our families can grow and prosper.
GIBSON: Didn't George Bush come to Washington eight years ago talking about reforming Washington in the same kind of language? Ran as something of a maverick actually; came to Washington. Eight years, hasn't changed the ethos in Washington particularly. Why are you any different?
PALIN: Well, we're promising the reform. And we are mavericks. And that's why I'm very thankful to have been chosen to team up with somebody who has been a proven maverick also. An independent streak in both of us, Charlie, both John McCain and in me that's not going to let obsessive partisanship get in the way.
There's no doubt in anybody's mind now across America, who's paying attention to the presidential race here, that I am a Washington outsider. I mean, look at where you are. I'm a Washington outsider. I do not have those allegiances to the power brokers, to the lobbyists. We need someone like that in Washington, someone committed to the American people and implementing their will, not the power brokers' will.
GIBSON: You mentioned in the three principles that you'll change spending. You also talked about taxes. Why do you both keep saying that Obama is going to raise people's taxes? It's been pretty clear what he intends. He's talked about middle-class tax cuts, extending Bush tax cuts on everything but people who own or burn more than $250,000 a year -- cuts taxes on over 91 percent of the country. Why do you keep saying he's going to raise people's taxes?
PALIN: Well, I would argue with the whole premise of that, that his mission is to not increase taxes. He's had 94 opportunities to either vote for a tax cut or not support tax increases. And 94 times, he's been on the other side of what I believe the majority of Americans want. And that is a reduction in taxes -- allowing Americans to keep more of what they earn, allowing them to invest for their priorities, for their families' priorities.
And I'll bet you Americans' priorities are going to be education for their kids, putting a nest egg aside, getting a piece of the rock, buying a home and property. That is the American ideal. And I believe that Barack's actions, those 94 times, are an aside, are going in the opposite direction of what our country needs.
GIBSON: His tax plan basically modeled on the Bill Clinton tax plans. And...
SARAH PALIN: Well, I wasn't a fan of the Bill Clinton tax plan either.
GIBSON: In Clinton's -- in Clinton's eight years, we created 22 million new jobs in this country; under Bush, 5 million. And that number's shrinking.
PALIN: We need to create more jobs. There again, though, it's got to be the private sector creating those jobs. Federal government, state government, local government, we need to provide the infrastructure tools, those things that individuals and small businesses can't do individually, but as a whole, government can do. Roads, water, sewer, education, public safety -- those basics. Few basics, and we do those few things very, very good.
GIBSON: One of John McCain's central campaign targets, tenets of his campaign, is eliminating earmarks, getting rid of them. Are you with John McCain on that?
PALIN: I certainly am. And of course the poster child for the earmarks was Alaska's, what people in the lower 48 refer to as, the bridge to nowhere.
PALIN: First it was a bridge to community with an airport in southeast Alaska. But that was excessive. And an earmark -- an earmark like that, not even supported necessarily by the majority of Alaskans. We killed that earmark. We killed that project. And, as I've said over and over, if Alaska wants that bridge, $300 million, $400 million, over to that island with an airport, we'll find a way to build it ourselves. The rest of the country doesn't have to build that for us.
GIBSON: Well, I think you just said that you agree with John McCain, that we ought to eliminate all earmarks. Correct?
PALIN: I don't think he's ever said every single earmark.
GIBSON: He said...
PALIN: He has said the pork barrel, overstuffed earmark bill that comes in front of him, he'll veto. And I absolutely support him on that. What has to stop, Charlie, the reform in this arena that has to take place, is the abuse of the earmark process. And Alaska here too, unfortunately, has been made famous by the abuses there. Those 11th hour, behind-closed-doors, secret bills struck to put an earmark in the federal budget without public scrutiny, unacceptable.
GIBSON: All right. You got to the bridge to nowhere before I wanted to get to it. But OK, let's talk about it.
You have said continually, since he chose you as his vice-presidential nominee, that I said to Congress, 'Thanks, but no thanks. If we're going to build that bridge, we'll build it ourselves'.
GIBSON: But it's now pretty clearly documented. You supported that bridge before you opposed it. You were wearing a t-shirt in the 2006 campaign, showed your support for the bridge to nowhere.
PALIN: I was wearing a t-shirt with the zip code of the community that was asking for that bridge. Not all the people in that community even were asking for a $400 million or $300 million bridge.
GIBSON: But you turned against it after Congress had basically pulled the plug on it; after it became apparent that the state was going to have to pay for it, not the Congress; and after it became a national embarrassment to the state of Alaska. So do you want to revise and extend your remarks on it?
PALIN: It has always been an embarrassment that abuse of the ear form -- earmark process has been accepted in Congress. And that's what John McCain has fought. And that's what I joined him in fighting. It's been an embarrassment, not just Alaska's projects. But McCain gives example after example after example. I mean, every state has their embarrassment.
GIBSON: But you were for it before you were against it. You were solidly for it for quite some period of time...
SARAH PALIN: I was...
CHARLES GIBSON: ... until Congress pulled the plug.
PALIN: I was for infrastructure being built in the state. And it's not inappropriate for a mayor or for a governor to request and to work with their Congress and their congressmen, their congresswomen, to plug into the federal budget along with every other state a share of the federal budget for infrastructure.
CHARLES GIBSON: Right.
PALIN: What I supported was the link between a community and its airport. And we have found that link now. And that's better ferry...
GIBSON: Which is the bridge.
GIBSON: Which is the link. The link was the bridge.
PALIN: It's better ferry service. I'm telling you where we are today.
PALIN: Today we have found that solution. And it's a strong and reliable ferry service back and forth. They had had that ferry service before. Some thought it would be time for a bridge to be built.
And now obviously, Charlie, with the federal government saying, no, the rest of the nation does not want to fund that project, you have choice: You either read the writing on the wall and understand, okay, yes, that -- that project's going nowhere. And the state isn't willing to fund that project. So what good does it do to continue to support something that circumstances have so drastically changed? You call an audible (ph), and you deal in reality, and you move on.
GIBSON: But you didn't say no to congress, well build it ourselves until after they pulled the plug. Correct?
PALIN: No, because Congress still allowed those dollars to come into Alaska. They did.
GIBSON: Well, but...
PALIN: Transportation fund dollars still came into Alaska. It was our choice, Charlie, whether we were going to spend it on a bridge or not. And I said, thanks, but no thanks. We're not going to spend it on the bridge.
GIBSON: They had started appropriating on May 4. They appropriated $223 million I think for the bridge. Then they -- when the project died, that money was still there. And you kept -- the state of Alaska kept that money. Is that consistent with the image of a reformer?
PALIN: It certainly is. Those are infrastructure dollars that a local -- a state government and a local government needs to figure out how to best prioritize those federal funds. We best prioritized those in strengthening existing bridges across our state. We strengthened our infrastructure by paving more roads and building new roads, and building up the water and sewer lines throughout our communities, some communities in Alaska that don't even have water or sewer lines.
And, Charlie, we killed the bridge to nowhere and that's the bottom line.
GIBSON: You said you now agree with John McCain that earmarks should be eliminated. The state of Alaska, under OMB figures in 2008, got $155 million in earmarks for a population of 670,000 people. That's $231 per person in Alaska. The state of Illinois, Obama's state, got $22 per person. You got ten times per person as much. How does that square with your reforms?
PALIN: We have drastically, drastically reduced our earmark request since I came into office.
GIBSON: But you still have multiple of any other state.
PALIN: We sure are -- and this is what -- you go out and you ask any Alaskan this. This is what I've been telling Alaskans for these years that I've been in office, is no more.
Alaska needs to grow up, pull ourselves up from our bootstraps and we need to work extremely hard to start contributing more and developing our God-given resources up here.
That's what our oil and our gas developments and our mineral development is all about. That's what strengthening our commercial fishing industry and our tourism industry is all about. So that we are not the highest per capita state receiving federal funds, and we're way up there. We're not the highest right now, but we're way up there.
And, Charlie, every state can model itself, too, after the agenda that we've implemented here in Alaska. That is self-sufficiency which leads to self-determination in a state. This is a John McCainism, also. He's all about the federalism here, also. He's about states' rights, states' determination. The state of Alaska, I think, has been a poster child in this the last couple of years.
GIBSON: Governor, this year, requested $3.2 million for researching the genetics of harbor seals, money to study the mating habits of crabs. Isn't that exactly the kind of thing that John McCain is objecting to?
PALIN: Those requests, through our research divisions and fish and game and our wildlife departments and our universities, those research requests did come through that system, but wanting it to be in the light of day, not behind closed doors, with lobbyists making deals with Congress to stick things in there under the public radar.
That's the abuse that we're going to stop. That's what John McCain has promised over and over for these years and that's what I'm joining him, also, saying, you're right, the abuse of earmarks, it's un-American, it's undemocratic, and it's not going to be accepted in a McCain-Palin administration. Earmark abuse will stop.
GIBSON: When you were mayor of Wasilla, you hired a very prominent lobbyist to get Wasilla money.
PALIN: We did. We paid $30,000 for a lobbyist who was in D.C., because we're thousands and thousands of miles away from D.C. It would have cost us a lot more to be traveling back and forth from this small community. You know what he was working on for us, also? Water, sewer system projects, those things that were part of a federal government's appropriate role, also, in sharing with the infrastructure needs of a local community of a state.
Charlie, none of our requests have ever been secret. Not only those things that the federal government could share with us in terms of funds out of the federal budget to help strengthen a local community's infrastructure, but that, too, then, when those dollars are shared, freed up other dollars in a local community and at a state level, too, when I was governor, to allow the residents in these communities to prioritize for the projects that they want to see funded.
GIBSON: In the time I have left, I want to talk about some social issues.
GIBSON: Roe v. Wade, do you think it should be reversed?
PALIN: I think it should and I think that states should be able to decide that issue.
GIBSON: It's a critical issue for so many women.
PALIN: It is.
GIBSON: You believe women should not have that choice.
PALIN: It is a very critical, very sensitive and a personal issue, also, for so many women and men across this nation. I am pro-life. I do respect other people's opinion on this, also, and I think that a culture of life is best for America.
What I want to do, when elected vice president, with John McCain, hopefully be able to reach out and work with those who are on the other side of this issue, because I know that we can all agree on the need for and the desire for fewer abortions in America and greater support for adoption, for other alternatives that women can and should be empowered to embrace, to allow that culture of life. That's my personal opinion on this, Charlie.
GIBSON: John McCain would allow abortion in cases of rape and incest. Do you believe in it only in the case where the life of the mother is in danger?
PALIN: That is my personal opinion.
GIBSON: Would you change and accept it in rape and incest?
PALIN: My personal opinion is that abortion allowed if the life of the mother is endangered. Please understand me on this. I do understand McCain's position on this. I do understand others who are very passionate about this issue who have a differing view.
It's been a debate in this country for decades, of course. What I would like to do is work with those on the other side of this issue so that we can come together and deal with the inherent problem that I think even those who support abortion would agree with.
The problem is there are too many abortions and women are hurt and I just believe that it is time that we evolve the debate even into finding more long-term solutions to the issue we're talking about.
GIBSON: Embryonic stem cell research, John McCain has been supportive of it.
PALIN: I think it's very important that we beef up and support our National Institute of Health and starting funding for more research so that all these, at this time, incurable diseases we can start curing. We're seeing good progress and we've got great encouragement with researchers finding adult stem cell, research that's providing productive towards curing these diseases.
GIBSON: But doctors tell me that still most promising, we don't know yet about adult stem cells, most promising, embryonic stem cells, that's what they need to work with. Yes or no?
PALIN: I agree -- we appreciate that you're asking me the question, because I do want to tell Americans what my personal opinion is.
You know, when you're running for office, your life is an open book and you do owe it to Americans to talk about your personal opinion, which may end up being different than what the policy in an administration would be.
My personal opinion is we should not create human life, create an embryo and then destroy it for research, if there are other options out there. And thankfully, again, not only are there other options, but we're getting closer and closer to finding a tremendous amount more of options, like, as I mentioned, the adult stem cell research.
So with greater support for our National Institute of Health and for embracing the science that they are promoting and that should be supported by more Americans, we're going to find cures to these incurable diseases with greater research, and we do have to strengthen NIH.
GIBSON: I'm still not clear. You said people owe it -- you said "My life's an open book," then you said...
PALIN: And I gave you my personal opinion. Creating an embryo and then destroying it is -- that is not something that personally I support.
GIBSON: Homosexuality, genetic or learned?
PALIN: Oh, I don't -- I don't know, but I'm not one to judge and, you know, I'm from a family and from a community with many, many members of many diverse backgrounds and I'm not going to judge someone on whether they believe that homosexuality is a choice or genetic. I'm not going to judge them.
GIBSON: Guns, 70 percent of this country supports a ban on semiautomatic assault weapons. Do you?
PALIN: I do not and, you know, here again, life being an open book here, as a candidate, I'm a lifetime member of the NRA. I believe strongly in our Second Amendment rights. That's kind of inherent in the people of my state who rely on guns for not just self-protection, but also for our hunting and for sports, also. It's a part of a culture here in Alaska. I've just grown up with that.
GIBSON: Isn't gun violence in America a health issue? We spend billions of dollars a year every year treating people who are victims of gun violence. Nothing we can do about that?
PALIN: Do think that all of that gun violence, though, is caused by people pulling a trigger who would have followed any law anyway? No. You start banning guns and you start taking away guns from people who will use them responsibly and use them ethically.
You put more and more laws on guns and you start taking away a Second Amendment right, it's going to be, Charlie, the bad guys who have the guns, not those who are law abiding citizens.
GIBSON: And one last thing I want to talk to you about, because there is a great debate going on in this country, and I want to ask you. Is it sexist for people to ask how can somebody manage a family of seven and the vice presidency? Is that a sexist question to ask?
PALIN: I don't know. I'm lucky to have been brought up in a family where gender has never been an issue. I'm a product of Title 9, also, where we had equality in schools that was just being ushered in with sports and with equal opportunity for education, all of my life.
I'm part of that generation, where that question is kind of irrelevant, because it's accepted. Of course, you can be the vice president and you can raise a family. I'm the governor and I'm raising a family. I've been a mayor and have raised a family. I've owned a business, and we've raised a family.
What people have asked me when I was -- when I learned I was pregnant, "Gosh, how are you going to be the governor and have a baby in office, too," and I replied back then, as I would today, "I'll do it the same way the other governors have done it when they've either had baby in office or raised a family." Granted, they're men, but do it the same way that they do it.
GIBSON: It's interesting to me, because my wife has been in single sex education all her life. This has been her lifetime. But when we posted this question on the Internet, we had 15,000 replies within 48 hours and every woman with young children struggles with this question, should I, how can I, will I be able to?
And I'm curious to hear you talk just about how you've internalized that.
PALIN: Sure. And I understand what that struggle is, what those internal questions are. I've gone through the same thing over these 19 years from having my first born to today having a newborn.
In these 19 years, a lot of circumstances have changed. I stayed home with my son until he was seven years old, had just worked part-time, until I got into full-time employment again when he was seven.
I had that choice then and I've had choices, of course, along the way.
What we can do with the national government reform that we're talking about is provide women more career choices. We can strengthen our economy. We can allow more and better jobs to be created so that women can have that choice and not have such a burdensome choice of believing that they have to go back to work if they don't desire to work outside of the home.
A strengthened economy is going to provide Americans, especially young American women, more choices. If a breadwinner has a good enough job, with health care benefits, and they don't need then a two-income family, that provides another choice for that woman to decide whether she's -- or the man, maybe the dad would be the one to stay home and raise -- raise the kids.
We're only going to get to that point, though, with providing more choices for more American families when we do have a strengthened economy, when that unemployment rate that today is 6.1 is reduced. More choices for more Americans; more opportunity, more hope to live that American dream, good job, health care benefits, owning a home. We're going to be able to play an appropriate role, a McCalin-Palin administration, to help us reach to that potential.
GIBSON: Governor, thanks.
PALIN: Thank you so much. I'm glad you came.
GIBSON: So am I.