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Excerpts from Palin interview with CNN
October 21, 2008 -- Updated 0027 GMT (0827 HKT)
(CNN) -- Republican vice presidential nominee Gov. Sarah Palin spoke Tuesday to CNN's Drew Griffin. It was her first interview with the network. Here are excerpts:
Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin speaks with CNN's Drew Griffin Tuesday.
CNN: You seemed to be very much on your game. You get huge crowds. Even bigger crowds than [Republican presidential candidate Sen.] John McCain. Why is that?
Sarah Palin: I think it's what I'm representing and what the message is and that is true reform of government that is so needed, and having a representative of someone who has a track record of showing that, yeah, you can, you can do this, you can reform, you can put government back on the side of the people, you can fight corruption. You can actually take steps towards helping our nation become energy-independent and all those things that we're talking about. I think that more and more Americans are realizing that, well, good, we have a candidate who has actually done some of those things and it's not just, talkin' the talk, she's gonna tell us how she's done this.
CNN: Let's talk about some of that, because, I mean, two months ago, it was all about who you were, where you were from and Wasilla, Alaska. I think, now it's just the economy. And you are the only person in this race with executive experience, who's taken over governments as mayor and governor. What will you do, day one, to tell the American people, things are changing for the better? Watch the entire interview »
Palin: You know, that's a good point about that experience and we don't like to toot our own horn so we don't, I don't talk about my experience that much in terms of years in office or in positions that have been executive experience but, I have, I do have more experience than [Democratic presidential candidate Sen.] Barack Obama does. You know, he had served for his 300 days before he became a presidential candidate and that wasn't in executive office, of course, but, as an executive, working with John McCain, we will take on the special interests and we will clean up Wall Street and some of the abuse of the power in Washington, D.C., also to first and foremost get government back on the side of the people, and, we do this economically speaking here, by cutting taxes, not increasing them, allowing our small businesses and our families to keep more of what they earn, and produce so that they can reinvest according to their priorities. Not politicians' priorities and special interests' priorities. Our small businesses, keeping more of what they earn, that allows them to create more jobs, they're gonna be hiring more people, that gets our economy going. That's what has happened in the opportunities that I've had in executive positions as mayor, manager, and as governor. It works. Reining in government growth, recognizing government certainly plays appropriate roles in building infrastructure, providing tools for our families, for our businesses, but then government kinda getting outta the way as you have great oversight making sure that there isn't the corruption and the abuse, but government, I think get outta the way and let the private sector do what it does best.
CNN: Yeah, but, I mean we're in a crisis right now.
Palin: We are.
CNN: And the plans that you mention take time, you have to go through Congress. If you guys win, you'll both most likely be working with a Democratic Congress. It's gonna be a slow process. What I'm trying to find out from you -- from John McCain as well, day one, people want a difference, to make a difference in the economy, as we're seeing daily, swings in the stock market, houses going foreclosed on --
Palin: Mm-hmm. Well, day one, you bring in everyone around that table, too, you bring in the congressional leadership, and, assuming that there will be, certainly, Democrats, at that table, that's good, too, these are gonna be bipartisan approaches that must be taken, I have that executive experience also having formed a cabinet up there in Alaska that, you know, we've got independents and Democrats and Republicans whom I have appointed to our administrative positions to that, we have the best of ideas coming together in order to best serve the people. John McCain, too, he's been known as the maverick to take on his own party when need be, to reach over the aisle and work with the other party also. Now, Barack Obama has not been able to do that, he's gone with, what is it, 96 percent of the time with Democrat leadership. Not having that, I think, ability or willingness to work with the other side. So as an executive, we need to create that team that is full of good ideas and not let obsessive partisanship get in the way, as we start taking the measures to shore up our economy, which already Congress is working on with the rescue package, with some of the bailout packages, the provisions in there that can work, too, but it's gonna take everybody working together.
CNN: Will you and John McCain appoint Democrats to cabinet positions?
Palin: I don't know why you wouldn't, if they, if these Democrats are best suited to serve, and if they will not let obsessive partisanship get in the way of just doing what's right with a team effort, and support of the president to get this economy moving, and to win these wars, to meet these great challenges, I wouldn't have as my litmus test a party affiliation.
CNN: Yeah. Uh, Joe the plumber?
CNN: Socialism, it's come up on the campaign trail now.
CNN: Governor, is Barack Obama a socialist?
Palin: I'm not gonna call him a socialist, but, as Joe the plumber had suggested, in fact he came right out and said it sounds like socialism to him and he speaks for so many Americans who are quite concerned now, after hearing finally what Barack Obama's true intentions are with his tax and economic plan, and that is, to take more from small businesses, more from our families, and then redistribute that according to his priorities. That is, that is not good for the entrepreneurial spirit that has built this great country. That is not good for our economy, certainly it's not good for the opportunities that our small businesses should have, to keep more of what they produce, in order to hire more people, create more jobs. That's what gets the economy going. So, finally Joe the plumber and as we talked about today in the speech, too, he's representing, you know, Jane the engineer and Molly the dental hygienist and Chuck the teacher and, and all these good, hard-working Americans who are, finally, were able to hear in very plain talk the other night, what Barack Obama's intentions were to redistribute wealth.
CNN: Do you think his intention though, if not a socialist, is to move away from capitalism, true capitalism?
Palin: Well, anyone who would want to increase taxes at a time like this, especially with economic woes that are adversely affecting all of us, anybody who would want to do that to take more from businesses and our families, and then dole those dollars out according to their priorities, that, that is not a principal of capitalism.
CNN: Some are saying we're already moving towards socialism with the bailout, the banking industry investment that this government has made, that John McCain and Barack Obama have signed on for. What is your views on that and yet another possible supplement to the income of Americans.
Palin: We cannot start moving closer and closer to socialism. That will destroy the entrepreneurial spirit in America. That will punish hard work and productivity, and that work ethic that we try to instill in our children so that they will know that they can be rewarded for their productivity, for their hard work. We cannot move in that direction, that it should be so concerning for any American voter to consider that perhaps there are some who would like us to go there. Now, as for the economic bailout provisions and the measures that have already been taken, it is a time of crisis and government did have to step in playing an appropriate role to shore up the housing market to make sure that we're thawing out some of the potentially frozen credit lines and credit markets, government did have to step in there. But now that we're hearing that the Democrats want an additional stimulus package or bailout package for what, hundreds of billions of dollars more, this is not a time to use the economic crisis as an excuse for reckless spending and for greater, bigger government and to move the private sector to the back burner and let government be assumed to be the be-all, end-all solution to the economic challenges that we have. That's what's scaring me now about hearing that the Democrats have an even greater economic bailout package, but we don't know all the details of it yet and we'll certainly pay close attention to it.
CNN: On its face are you against that?
Palin: On its face, I want to make sure that this is not being used by the Democrats as a time for bigger government, more dollars being taken from taxpayers to bail out anybody, any entity that's been engaged in corruption, in self-dealing, in greed, there on Wall Street or in D.C. that has adversely affected Main Street, so, on its face, I, what we're gonna need to know more about what the Democrats have in mind for this additional bailout.
CNN: You know, as, you're a fiscal conservative.
CNN: As a fiscal conservative, I'm looking at the McCain proposals. And all of them seem to involve heavy amounts of government money, or government involvement, whether it be home mortgages or propping up the banking industry. I mean, are you square with that?
Palin: I beg to differ with that, because what McCain has talked about with shoring up the home mortgage market also to make sure that we, we're gonna have a level playing field here. He's not asking for an additional hundreds of billions of dollars, he's saying, OK, with the $700 billion that his colleagues and he there in Congress have already approved, let's make sure that the priority is, we're gonna help the homeowners who had been kinda sucked into the wrong mortgage, and that was via predatory lenders taking advantage unfortunately and exploiting too many Americans. He's saying let's take the dollars that are already there and let's best use them. Let's, he's not saying, more, more, more government intervention and more dollars. He's saying, let's best use the dollars that have already been approved.
CNN: What is your role going to be as vice president?
Palin: Well, we've talked a lot about that, John McCain and I have, about the missions that I'll get to embark on if we are so blessed to be hired by the American people to work for them. It's gonna be government reform, because that is what I've been able to do as a mayor and as a governor. You take on the special interests and the self-dealings. Yep, you ruffle feathers and you have the scars to prove it afterwards, but you have to take that on to give the American people that faith back in their own government. This is their government and we gotta put it back on their side. So, government reform and energy independence, can't wait to work on that. That's been my forte as the governor of an energy-producing state and as a former chair of the energy regulator entity up there in Alaska. So, look forward to that and that's a matter of national security and our economic prosperity opportunities. That though, too, the other mission that John and I are anxious for me to lead on is helping our families who have children with special needs, ushering in that spirit to Washington, D.C., where we saw, we're gonna give every child a chance and a good educational opportunity will be provided. That's gonna be a matter, too, of prioritizing the federal dollars that are already there and making sure that every child is given opportunity.
CNN: Governor, our time is very short and I must ask you just two questions, one is on [Palin's former brother-in-law, Alaska State Trooper Mike] Wooten, if there's one thing that's followed you negatively --
Palin: Tasergate, right, right,
CNN: You call it Tasergate,
Palin: We sure do.
CNN: Troopergate, whatever. The Branchflower Report said you were perfectly in your right, to fire [Alaska Public Safety Commissioner Walt] Monegan.
CNN: But also found out that you violated the ethics. Was it a mistake to allow your husband to use your office to try to pressure the troopers to fire Mr. Wooten.
Palin: Not at all because A, that, the trooper who had tasered his kid and had, you know, made death threats against my family and said he was gonna bring the governor down and all that. My husband did exactly, I think, what any sensible, reasonable father, husband would do who was concerned about their family's safety.
CNN: But was it a mistake to allow him to use the governor's office to that extent?
Palin: Not when you look at other governors' track records when they had their spouse as for instance [former Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski] had his spouse as his top adviser, and she was in meetings, she was in the office so, you know, kinda, of a double standard here. But what Todd was what any reasonable husband and father would do. He followed the instruction of the Department of Public Safety's own personal security detail that is our personal protection. They asked Todd, you have a problem with this state trooper, he is a threat, you need to take that to the commissioner of the Department of Public Safety. Todd did exactly that and then of course, he got clobbered for it, now in the media because there's a misunderstanding of what he's done. Our Department of Law in Alaska has right there on its Web site -- it said, if you have a problem with an Alaska state trooper, the paragraph says, you go to the Commissioner of Department of Public Safety and you share that concern with him. That's what Todd did. So no, I don't think that it was an abuse of power of my office at all. And I was very thankful that that report cleared me of any illegal dealings or anything else. I replaced the commissioner because he was not doing the job that I expect of my cabinet members. That is, you serve the Alaskan population up there. Of course he's a cabinet member who was assigned to do that, to the best of our team's ability and you have a lotta energy, you fulfill the vision that we have laid out for you, and he wasn't doing that and that's why he was replaced.
CNN: Governor, if in two weeks you're not elected, do you come back at the top of the ticket in 2012?
Palin: I'm concerned about and focused on just the next two weeks, Drew, and again getting that message out there to the American public. Thankfully, too, the American public is seeing clearer and clearer what the choices are in these tickets. I think, some revelation just occurred, not just with Joe the plumber but revelation occurred with [Democratic vice presidential candidate] Joe Biden's comment the other night that, he telling his Democratic financial donors saying that, he said mark my word, there's gonna be economic, and, or international crisis he said, if Barack Obama is elected, because he will be tested and he said there are four or five scenarios that will result in an international crisis with an untested presidential candidate in Barack Obama and -- first I think we need to thank Joe for the warning there. But, Joe's words there I think, can shed some light, too, in terms of the contrast you have in the tickets. John McCain is a tested leader. He has gone through great adversity. He has the scars to prove it. He has shown his true leadership. It hasn't just been all talk, and Joe Biden's comments there about an untested, as he had said in the primary, unprepared candidate to be president, I think was very telling.
CNN: Have you guys been briefed on any scenario like this?
Palin: On the four or five scenarios, that, well, who knows what Joe Biden was talking about, you know? It, all you have to do, though, is look back at Obama's foreign policy agenda and you can assume what some of those scenarios may be. As he considers sitting down and talking to [Iranian President Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad or [former Cuban President] Fidel Castro or [North Korean President] Kim Jong Il, some of these dictators, without preconditions being met, essentially validating some of what those dictators have been engaged in, that could be one of the scenarios that Joe Biden is talking about is, as a result of that, that proclamation that he would meet without preconditions being met first. That could be a scenario that results in a testing of our country, and, the four or five other scenarios that he's talking about, I don't know, I hope that Joe Biden will explain it.
CNN: I guess we have to wrap it up.
CNN: I mean I could go on with you forever.
Palin: So could I, on that one especially.
CNN: [LAUGHS] I mean, did Joe Biden get a pass?
Palin: Drew, you need to ask your colleagues and I guess your bosses or whoever is in charge of all this, why does Joe Biden get a pass on such a thing? Can you imagine if I would've said such a thing? No, I think that, you know, we would be hounded and held accountable for, what in the world did you mean by that, VP presidential candidate? Why would you say that, mark my words, this nation will undergo international crisis if you elect Barack Obama? If I would've said that you guys'd clobbered me.
CNN: You're right. [LAUGHTER] You're right. Can I ask one more question?
Palin: Sure, good.
CNN: You've talked about America. And certain parts of America, that are maybe more American than other parts of American, Are there?
Palin: Ehhh, I don't want that misunderstood. No, I do not want that misunderstood. You know, when I go to these rallies and we see the patriotism just shining through these people's faces and the Vietnam veterans wearing their hats so proudly and they have tears in their eyes as we sing our national anthem and it is so inspiring and I say that this is true America, you get it, you understand how important it is that in the next four years we have a leader who will fight for you. I certainly don't want that interpreted as one area being more patriotic or more American than another. If that's the way it's come across, I apologize.