Excerpts: Charlie Gibson Interviews GOP Vice Presidential Candidate Sarah Palin
Republican Vice Presidential Candidate Sits Down for Exclusive Interview
Sept. 12, 2008
The following excerpts are from the ABC News exclusive interview with Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin in Wasilla, Alaska, conducted by "World News" anchor Charlie Gibson Sept. 12, 2008.
Sarah Palin on Reform:
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. 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 earn 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.
Sarah Palin on Congressional Spending and the ''Bridge to Nowhere':
GIBSON: One of John McCain's central campaign arguments, 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. 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...
GIBSON: You have said continually, since he chose you as his vice presidential nominee, that I said to Congress, thanks but not 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 bidge 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?
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. And, as I've said over and over, if Alaska wants that bridge, $300 million, $400 million dollars, 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: But you were for it before you were against it. You were solidly for it for quite some period of time...
PALIN: I was ...
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.
PALIN: What I supported was the link between a community and its airport. And we have found that link now.
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.
PALIN: And now obviously, Charlie, with the federal government saying, no, the rest of the nation does not want to fund that project. You have a 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, and you deal in reality, and you move on. And, Charlie, we killed the bridge to nowhere and that's the bottom line.
GIBSON: The state of Alaska, under OMB figures in 2008, got $155 million in earmarks for a population of 670,000. That's $231 per person in Alaska. The state of Illinois, Obama's state, got $22 per person. You got 10 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.
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.
Sarah Palin on Hillary Clinton:
GIBSON: I saw you quoted somewhere as speaking rather admiringly of Mrs. Clinton, Senator Clinton, during the primary campaign. Do you think Obama should've picked her?
PALIN: I think he's regretting not picking her now, I do. What, what determination, and grit, and even grace through some tough shots that were fired her way, she handled those well.
Sarah Palin on Abortion Rights:
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... 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.
Sarah Palin on Social Issues:
GIBSON: Embryonic stem cell research, John McCain has been supportive of it.
PALIN: 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.
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 I 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.
Sarah Palin on Sexism:
GIBSON: 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: 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.
Sarah Palin on Banning Books:
GIBSON: There's a lot on the Internet about a conversation you did or did not have with a librarian about banning books. Want to clear up what's on the Internet?
PALIN: I never banned a book, never desired to ban a book. When I became mayor in our town, it was the issue of: what if a parent came into our local public library and asked for a book to be taken off the shelf, wha's the policy? ...It kind of cracked me up seeing the list of books that I supposedly banned???one of them was 'Harry Potter!' It wasn't even written or published then.
Sarah Palin on 'Troopergate':
GIBSON: The other issue is Troopergate, which is very much in the news today, the Associated Press is saying how there's going to be 13 subpoenas that come out, one of them to your husband, Todd. First of all, do you welcome the investigation???
PALIN: Absolutely, there's nothing to hide in this. The personnel board is the appropriate agency or overseeing board to inquire as to whether anybody did anything wrong or not, but here's the issue with Troopergate and I'm glad that you're asking. The trooper in question here did conduct dangerous and illegal activities and our personal security detail when I was first elected had asked us very appropriately, are there any threats against you and your family. And I said, well, you know, ironically, yeah, it's a state trooper who's threatened to kill my dad and bring down me and once I got elected, his threats were he was going to bring down the governor and the governor's family, so it was very appropriate that we brought the concerns to personal security detail -- they asked us to bring it to the commissioner, which I did.
GIBSON: And he was your brother-in-law at one point.
PALIN: Yeah, back in '05 -- yeah.
GIBSON: The -- you mentioned the personnel board, it's a bipartisan legislative group, that's working at it now, which you said was fine, until you got named as the vice presidential nominee, and then you said the personnel board ought to handle it.
PALIN: We've said all along that ??? the personnel board is the appropriate agency or board to inquire -- our state statute says if there is a question about actions of the governor, lt. governor, or attorney general, you go to the personnel board. So we've said all along that that's appropriate ???
GIBSON: Even though they're all appointed by you.
PALIN: No, they're not. In fact, they were all appointed by the prior administration, I had one reappointment on that board, they weren't all appointed by me. But, the issue that people are asking about -- first, they got it wrong when they say did I fire a trooper, because there was an issue back in '05 about him, as he was divorcing my sister. No, nobody fired the trooper, he's still a trooper to this day, he's out there. He had tasered his stepson, he had made those death threats, you know, there were a lot of concerns from not just my family, but from the public about this trooper's activities, and he's apologized for those since, I saw on the air the other day.
But, the issue is the commissioner, who was his boss, was he pressured to fire that trooper, that's the underlying issue here, right, Commissioner Monegan. Commissioner Monegan has said the governor never asked me to fire him, the governor's husband never asked me to fire him, and we never did. I never pressured him to hire or fire anybody. Why I replaced commissioner Monegan was after two years, of he working in my cabinet, as a political appointment, at will, exempt, recognizing after two years, he wasn't meeting the goals I wanted met in that area of public service, there were a lot of things that we were lacking, and a lot of goals weren't being met???
I wanted to bring somebody in with more vision and more energy to beef up public safety, hire more troopers, we increased the budget, yet still we had dozens and dozens of trooper positions vacant, we weren't reaching the goals on recruitment and retention of troopers, so that was one of the issues. I did recognize though that Commissioner Monegan could provide for the state some good public service in another area, so I did offer him another job, as the person in charge of the alcohol beverage control board, he chose not to transfer into that position, he chose then to leave state service, he didn't want that position, so the two issues have nothing to do with each other, the trooper's still a trooper today, Commissioner Monegan was offered another job, he turned that down, and now we're in the midst of a hiring practice for a new commissioner.
GIBSON: You think he should be a trooper? Given what he did?
PALIN: It amazes me still to think we cannot have very, very high standards for our troopers, for anybody in public service, certainly though, those who have a badge and carry a gun. But, I have always put in my commissioners hands their rights, their authority to hire, fire those that they need on their team to provide for better public service, I haven't micromanaged them. So, I didn't tell the guy to hire or fire anybody.
GIBSON: Didn't improperly intercede, not worried about the subpoenas, even to Todd.
PALIN: No, because I know that Todd, too, never pressured Commissioner Monegan. He did, very appropriately, though, bring up those concerns about a trooper who was making threats against the first family, and that is appropriate, in fact, you go to the department of law's web site, and it says right there in Q&A form on their Web site, it says, if you have an issue or a concern about an Alaskan state trooper, you bring that concern to the commissioner of the department of public safety. That's what Todd did, he appropriately did.
But another issue that I think has been lost through mainstream media reporting this, is that the trooper is still a trooper, Commissioner Monegan was replaced because he wasn't reaching the goals that our cabinet members were to reach, find efficiencies, put new vision, new energy into all of our departments. And, it's an issue that should be investigated by the personnel board, and they do -- it's been so politicized at this point, too, I think it's turned into quite the political issue.
Sarah Palin on Economic Policy:
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 in helping to strengthen the economy.
PALIN: 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. 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.
GIBSON: What you said to me 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' pocketbooks.
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.
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, the veterans' benefits. That's 20 percent of the budget. ??? 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.