Published September 07, 2008
This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," September 5, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: And tonight, the race is on, and the big prize, the White House. There is no doubt it will be either President Barack Obama or President John McCain. That does seem strange saying those two names with that title after eight years saying President Bush. But make no mistake about it, the talk of the nation tonight is not a man at all. It's a woman, Alaska's governor, Sarah Palin. One week after Senator McCain dropped the political bombshell, picking Governor Palin as his running mate, the nation is still talking about her.
And now there is news tonight about Governor Palin. Oprah Winfrey does not want Governor Palin to appear on her show. But why? Does that seem odd to you? Now, you will hear Oprah's explanation in moments.
But first: We all want to know, who is Governor Palin? What's she like? Joining us live is a woman who knows the governor well, Dianne Keller, the mayor of Governor Palin's hometown, Wasilla, Alaska. Welcome, Mayor.
MAYOR DIANNE KELLER, WASILLA, ALASKA: Thank you, Greta. Good evening.
VAN SUSTEREN: Good evening. So Mayor, is the former mayor of Wasilla, now the governor of Alaska -- is she qualified to be vice president, in your opinion? And if so, why do you say that? What's the basis of your opinion?
KELLER: Well, it is my humble opinion that she is totally qualified. I know what she had to do to run the city because I have to do that job. And she's also been running our state for a while, and I think that because of the experience that she has, she'll be able to do a good job.
VAN SUSTEREN: Now, can she reach across the aisle? Because I don't know if you've noticed, but things are a little bit heated here in Washington, D.C. A lot of people don't get along. Is she is someone who is going to go to battle, or can she try to join everybody together to come up with a consensus solution, when appropriate?
KELLER: You know, Greta, at the most local level of government, it's a nonpartisan government, and Sarah Palin did a great job of reaching across the aisle to make sure that things ran smoothly. And right now, it's my humble opinion that we live in the divided states of America, and the McCain-Palin ticket will do a lot to make it back into the United States of America.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you remember where you met her, when you met her, and under what circumstances?
KELLER: I do. I was at home, working on a building with my husband, and we were concerned about a land use issue in our neighborhood. And she came and knocked on our door and wanted to hear what concerns we had and know how we could be helped. And that's when I got to know her. And it was my pleasure, after she was elected as mayor, to serve on the city council for six years with her while she was doing her mayorship there.
VAN SUSTEREN: When she decided to run for governor, did you think she would win?
KELLER: I have no doubt in my mind that Sarah Palin will accomplish whatever goal she sets for herself because she is a very driven individual, and she has the ability to accomplish great things.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, in reading a little bit about her and her relationship with you, Mayor, there was a story about her marrying somebody in a Wal-Mart?
KELLER: Yes, she did. There were two Wal-Mart associates that came to her while she was mayor and requested her to perform the ceremony in our hometown Wal-Mart.
VAN SUSTEREN: And she did it?
KELLER: Of course, she did.
VAN SUSTEREN: Where were you when you heard that she had been tapped by Senator McCain to be his running mate?
KELLER: Well, I was at home. It was about 5:45 in the morning, and I was watching FOX News. And I think I figured it out about 30 seconds before the FOX News people did. And I was so excited, I had to call my mom in Texas because I didn't know anybody else that was awake at the time.
VAN SUSTEREN: How proud is Wasilla?
KELLER: What was that?
VAN SUSTEREN: How proud is your city?
KELLER: Oh, people in my community are very proud. You go to the grocery store and that's what they're talking about in the grocery lines. And we've been getting lots of e-mails from people. Actually, we've been getting e-mails from all over the nation that are very proud of this choice.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Well, of course, we are watching very closely, Mayor. Mayor, thank you for joining us this evening.
As governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin has commanded the Alaska National Guard. Joining us live is Major General Craig Campbell from the Alaska National Guard. Major General, tell me, how long have you known Governor Palin?
MAJ. GEN. CRAIG CAMPBELL, ALASKA NATIONAL GUARD: Governor Palin? For about 12 years.
VAN SUSTEREN: Now, what was her job as governor in terms of the National Guard? What was her -- what did she have to do as governor in relation to the Guard?
CAMPBELL: Yes. Governor Palin is in charge, the commander-in-chief for the Alaska National Guard, and she plays the same role that all governors in all 54 states and territories play, running and managing and operating the Guard day to day for the states that they're responsible for.
I'll tell you, in the last few days, I've been watching the press, and I've not been very pleased with what I've been seeing about the chastising of the National Guard by having it diminished by the insinuation that a commander-in-chief of the National Guard doesn't really control the military. The National Guard has 500,000 people in it around this great country, serving in states and overseas. National Guards are state military forces run by governors, and Sarah Palin does it great.
VAN SUSTEREN: Now, I understand -- I was doing a little research. We've been coming through everything we can find out about the governor. I understand that she went to Kuwait a year ago to visit with members of the Alaska National Guard. By any chance, did you go with her, or do you know anything about that trip?
CAMPBELL: I did not, but I do know about the trip because right after she got elected, when she was sworn in as governor, one of the first things at one of our briefings, she asked me, Where are our soldiers deployed, and how can I go see them? I told her they were in Kuwait. She asked to go. We worked with the Pentagon and got her over there. And the key result of that was when she came home to Alaska, she brought ideas about what soldiers' desires were, what family needs were, and implemented those into law the following year. That's what a commander-in-chief does, is take care of soldiers and airmen, and she does it exceptionally well.
VAN SUSTEREN: Did she do it in any different way than the former governors that you may have served under in Alaska? Is there anything special about her, or is she simply does doing her job?
CAMPBELL: Well, no, she does it exceptionally well. She is above and beyond what a governor would do. And I've watched and see this for a long time in many states around the country. And you know, there are a few governors that rise to the challenge and they take the National Guard as their own and they really want to provide the services that a commander-in- chief needs.
Sarah Palin does that. She goes to deployments. She goes to returns. When we work the budget -- when we work the budget, for the state, she wants to make sure that the state's putting the right amount of money in to support the soldiers' and airmen's needs in our National Guard. When she does policy, she makes sure that soldiers' families are taken care of in the state of Alaska. This is what a commander-in-chief does, and she does it really good.
VAN SUSTEREN: Does she do her homework? Because, you know, each -- you know, when you start a job, there are lots of challenges, new topics, things you never expected. Is she intellectually curious? Is she a hard worker? Does she do her homework?
CAMPBELL: She is awesome. She is as a fast learner, and she is -- in my opinion, she's on the go 24/7. She's on her Blackberry. I talk to her on the phone. I have meetings with her. And she is a quick learner. The stuff she had to learn about what the military does in the National Guard in Alaska, she learned in rapid-fire fashion, so she was able to utilize (ph) to help the soldiers and airmen in Alaska.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Now, I don't know if you know, but she's taking -- she's taking some heat from some in the media, including at least one magazine cover that wasn't particularly nice to her. Have you seen any of this? Have you heard any of this?
CAMPBELL: Yes, I have. I really have, Greta. And what I find very disturbing is it diminishes the National Guard. It makes the National Guard sound like it's not a real military force and only the president activates the military. And that's so false. Most of what the National Guard does they do for states under the commander-in-chief of their governor.
I have soldiers and airmen deployed right now -- In fact, let me just tell you about this past weekend with the hurricane down southeast. We deployed a C-17 airlifter with the Alaska National Guard. We took two of our Alaska National Guard helicopters and 30 Alaska National Guardsmen, and they went down to respond to that hurricane. and it was by order of Governor Palin because she had had the request from Governor Jindal from Louisiana. That's governor to governor, action of what they need to do for a National Guard. It didn't require presidential approval. It was under the deployment direction of the governor.
VAN SUSTEREN: Major General Campbell, thank you very much, and you know, we'll be watching your governor closely.
Joining us life is Meg Stapleton, Governor Palin's former press secretary. Welcome, Meg.
MEG STAPLETON, GOVERNOR PALIN'S FORMER PRESS SECRETARY: Oh, thanks, Greta. Glad to be here.
VAN SUSTEREN: Now, Meg, we're hearing things that your governor took on the oil industry up there. What's that all about? Because we're trying to sort this out and figure it out.
STAPLETON: Well, I'm really glad you asked because when it comes to Governor Palin and her executive and management experience, I don't think there's any better example than how she took on these oil companies. And I think the primary example is the fact that after more than three decades of many governors trying to get a natural gas pipeline down to the lower 48, is what we call it, to serve and heat America's homes and businesses, only this governor has been able to move that forward and to actually get field work in action, and we believe a natural gas pipeline in the next 10 years.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why was she able to do this? I mean, everyone -- all you Alaskans say she's essentially perfect, and so you know, I'm trying to figure this out. Like, you say she's the only one that's been able to do it. Why could she do it?
STAPLETON: Well, she did have -- one, first of all, because as a conservative, she stepped back and let the competitive markets drive the situation, rather than trying to meet behind closed doors and force the situation and relinquish the state's sovereignty.
She was able to do it also, Greta, because she operates and manages through common sense, as well. She researches. She vets. She listens to all the commissioners, and she goes through this intense process where she questions and interrogates over and over again until she gets to that answer and until she realizes the best route to get there. And that was the way to do it, and she used it through common sense by saying, The way to do this is through a competitive market and not behind closed doors. And that was one of the biggest problems up here in terms of corruption involved (ph) the oil and gas industry, and she took that on, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, so I've spoken to the head of the Alaska National Guard and to the mayor of Wasilla, and (INAUDIBLE) you guys all, I mean, obviously admire her and like her. Step outside for a second and take a look around. What's her popularity in the community, in the state.
STAPLETON: Oh! Well, the numbers alone prove it. Her popularity is more than 80 percent. And you know, it's funny because when she was first elected, Greta, they asked me to join -- she asked me to join, and I said, Boy, your popularity is so high already -- when she started, I think it was even 85, 90, and it may be well up toward 90 right now. I just know it's in the 80s.
She started, and I said, that's a lot of pressure because you only have to go down. You can't go up from a 90 percentile approval. So she is incredibly popular, and I think it's because she reaches through and over and around to each and every Alaskan, just as she did the other night to every American and just as she will as the vice president of the United States.
She is your average person, and as everyone says, your average hockey mom, and you can prove it because she drives herself to work. She pumps her own gas. She goes grocery shopping. She goes to Costco. This is a governor that is very much in touch with every single Alaskan and has always put the best interests of Alaskans first. And I can tell you, in every cabinet meeting and in every day, day to day in meeting with her, that was always her number one concern, was what's in the best interests of Alaskans. And I know that's what we need in Washington, D.C., and that's what she's going to take to Washington, D.C. Let's worry about Americans and not the special interests.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I tell you one thing, she's got a lot of fans in her home state because we hear nothing but good things (INAUDIBLE) and -- I mean, it's amazing the level of enthusiasm all you Alaskans have, and you know, we're happy to -- we're happy to meet your governor. Thank you, Meg.
STAPLETON: You're welcome. America would be blessed, and we're proud that we can introduce you to her.
VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you.
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