Published September 17, 2008
This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," September 16, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: And now for part two of your interview with Todd Palin. He is, as you know, Governor Sarah Palin's husband, and he is known to most Alaskans as the "First Dude." We went to the beautiful city of Wasilla, Alaska, all the way to the edge of Lake Lucille, and met Todd at his and Governor Palin's home. Todd went "On the Record" for the first time since his wife was tapped to be Senator McCain's running mate.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, so tell me the story, Todd, or "first dude" or whatever -- tell me -- tell me how this all unraveled, this story with the governor being tapped to be the nominee.
TODD PALIN, SARAH PALIN'S HUSBAND: I was on the Slope working night shift with my crew. And there was some information that certain people were trying to get from my wife because she was being considered. And so I came off the Slope on a Monday. On a Wednesday, Sarah flew down to -- I'm not sure what location she went to...
VAN SUSTEREN: But she called you up and said, I'm going, I'm going alone? Is that how it was?
PALIN: Well, it was all up in the air, but I wanted to be home to help out with getting the paperwork and all the information that they needed. And so I got off the Slope early. And then, you know, Wednesday, she left...
VAN SUSTEREN: For which destination, for Arizona?
PALIN: I'm not sure exactly where she went initially, so...
VAN SUSTEREN: But on a private plane. Because we were tracking -- you know, we were following planes, tracking numbers, everything. You're smiling.
PALIN: And then -- so I was tasked to have our kids ready in case she got the nod. And so I'm deciding -- you know, and you can't tell anybody. You can't tell the kids where you're going. And at that time, I didn't have any communication with Sarah. And so what do I do, you know? I can't tell the kids at night. They'll be up all night on their phones. You know, Well, I might go somewhere tomorrow.
So this was Thursday morning. I wake them up at 5:00 o'clock in the morning, and I said, OK, hey, we're going on a surprise trip to celebrate your mom and I's anniversary, 20th anniversary. So give me your cell phones. Well, why do you want my cell phone? Because I know you're going to call people, and you might call mom and ask what's going on. So I said, Give me your cell phones. If there's any questions -- whoever wants to ask questions is going to stay at Grandma's house, so who's going?
So they gave me all their cell phones. And so later that day, Sarah called me -- or that morning, Sarah called me and then we were on a plane south.
VAN SUSTEREN: And what did she say? What were the exact words when she said that she'd gotten picked?
PALIN: Just, you know, What do you think? And I said, Of course.
VAN SUSTEREN: Now, the kids -- the kids are now cell phone-less, incommunicado. How many are with you at this point?
PALIN: Three -- four.
VAN SUSTEREN: And did anyone a little bit suspicious that something was going on?
PALIN: Yes, they were -- you know -- well, it was pretty suspicious.
VAN SUSTEREN: Didn't you say, like, what kind of anniversary...
PALIN: I said four or five times, I said, I don't want to hear any questions. Just sit back and don't ask any questions. If we go into something that's not familiar with you, don't ask any questions, like a plane or -- just be quiet.
VAN SUSTEREN: And they took that from you. I mean...
PALIN: Yes, pretty much.
VAN SUSTEREN: So are you the disciplinarian so that they would -- I mean, so that you can hold them in line on stuff like that?
PALIN: No. We both share that responsibility or duty. But I think when there's an opportunity to go on a surprise trip, they're not going to turn it down. And they'll say, I'm not going to ask any questions, either.
VAN SUSTEREN: So when did you leave Alaska with the three?
PALIN: It was a Thursday afternoon.
VAN SUSTEREN: Headed for where directly? You went to Ohio?
PALIN: We didn't know where we were going, but that's where we ended up.
VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, you were just told you were going to be picked up and you're going someplace.
VAN SUSTEREN: And so -- and your kids didn't say, you know, Dad, at some point, maybe you ought to tell us where we're going?
PALIN: Well, I kind of fended it off for a while. But you know, we popped in down at Ohio and ran into Sarah, and then, you know, everybody kind of knew why we were there then.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, so -- so didn't your kids think it was odd that you were on a -- you were on a private plane?
VAN SUSTEREN: They didn't think that was weird, like...
PALIN: No, we kind of spilled the beans a little bit, but not all the details.
VAN SUSTEREN: And none of them...
PALIN: I mean, prior to sitting on that plane.
VAN SUSTEREN: And so when did the kids first finally get the official word?
PALIN: When we got to Ohio.
VAN SUSTEREN: Not until then.
PALIN: Yes. The official word, yes.
VAN SUSTEREN: Because that's a long flight between here and Ohio, where your kids are sitting there. They've been -- their cell phones have been taken away. They think they're going to some 20th anniversary party. Dad's acting a little weird at that point, don't you think?
PALIN: Yes. But I just made it a point that, Don't ask any questions, and you know, just be ready for a surprise.
VAN SUSTEREN: So what time did you land in Ohio, about?
PALIN: I think it was about 11:00 o'clock at night.
VAN SUSTEREN: Now, there was some story about how the governor had arrived with two guys.
VAN SUSTEREN: What's the story on that?
PALIN: Well, I think they did a really good job on keeping the lid on everything, and it was just, you know, top secret. And then the next day, about 10:00 o'clock Ohio time, there was rumors from Alaska saying that there was a private jet and it went to Ohio. And people in Ohio were saying, Well, yes, there was a female and two young boys that got off the flight.
So she was already there when we got there, so that information was false, from what I understand. You know, I got off with three girls and our son.
VAN SUSTEREN: And what time did you arrive, about, Ohio time?
PALIN: It was -- I think it...
VAN SUSTEREN: At night.
PALIN: ... Was 10:30. Yes. Yes.
VAN SUSTEREN: And none of us in the media spotted you. You got in under cover. I mean, there was...
PALIN: It was dark, yes.
VAN SUSTEREN: And so nobody -- so no one knew on our end. And no one knew up here in Alaska, for sure.
VAN SUSTEREN: And your wife managed to do the same thing, basically elude us.
PALIN: Yes. She did good. They did good.
VAN SUSTEREN: Good job, huh?
VAN SUSTEREN: We're not going to let you get away with it again, believe me. It's, like -- this is your one-time pass because we're so onto you guys now, you know, we're not even going to let you out of our sight, you realize.
PALIN: Well, you want to make a bet on that?
VAN SUSTEREN: Yes.
PALIN: You know, the Secret Service, they're pretty excited about this winter up here, and I'm already signed up for the Iron Dog. And so they're looking forward to driving snow machines. And if the media's going to be out there chasing us around -- and I just told the Secret Service that, you know, Don't be afraid of trying to stay up with me, and I'll just get you trained up on a GPS and you'll be OK.
VAN SUSTEREN: That's scary. Now I have visions of me doing the Iron Dog, trying to keep up because we've chased you guys so much.
VAN SUSTEREN: Someone -- one of us has to learn to drive these things that...
PALIN: Oh, come on up. It's great up here this time of year, or you know, in the wintertime, and a lot of activity, Iditarod. You know, it's known throughout the world, and hopefully, Iron Dog gets some attention.
VAN SUSTEREN: And how's your arm?
PALIN: It's good.
VAN SUSTEREN: Healed?
PALIN: It's healed.
VAN SUSTEREN: So you're ready to go?
PALIN: I'm ready.
VAN SUSTEREN: And you're all trained up for this next -- you're going to be trained up for February.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, it never occurred to me, but the Secret Service and the media are going to be chasing you, you know, like -- you know, like crazy.
PALIN: It's going to be fun. I look -- I mean, if we get that opportunity and move on, move forward to the next phase of our lives.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you know, we could always try to sit on the back of it, I guess, and just hang on and close our eyes, right?
VAN SUSTEREN: Anyway, that's fun. That's great.
VAN SUSTEREN: Coming up, more of your interview with the "First Dude." He takes you behind the scenes to when he first met Senator McCain. Most people don't know about this very quiet meeting, a meeting that now is something for the history books. Plus, Todd tells you where the name "First Dude" came from and what we should call him if he becomes the first husband of a vice president. Much more is coming.
VAN SUSTEREN: Continuing now with the "First Dude" of Alaska, Governor Sarah Palin's husband, Todd.
VAN SUSTEREN: What's your sort of thoughts going into this race? I mean, is it -- is there some part of you thinks that, like, you know, Yes, this is exciting, but on the other hand, boy, this is a nice life up here?
PALIN: Life is about experiences and opportunities. And so, you know, I look at our kids, as when she won governor, going down to Juneau, the capital, living in the mansion. So that's a life experience. And so in our eyes, it's another life experience for our family and other Alaskans to share this opportunity that's in front of Sarah.
VAN SUSTEREN: It is fun, isn't it.
VAN SUSTEREN: And exciting.
PALIN: It is.
VAN SUSTEREN: What about the -- what about the back-and-forth? I mean, it's a long ride.
VAN SUSTEREN: It's a long ride.
PALIN: You know, flying back and forth to the Slope all these years, and Sarah as governor, she was a lot time in the plane, so it's nothing that we're not used to.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why do you think so many people here in Alaska like her? I mean, everybody we've gone to -- I mean, it's -- and I'm not talking policy or anything like that. But everyone -- we walk -- you know, we go up to people on the street and we say, What's she like? And they all -- first of all, they all call her Sarah. No one's called her Governor except for us outsiders.
PALIN: I think they look at us as another Alaska family that adapts to job situations and enjoys Alaska, so they can relate to us. You know, we're just another family that, you know, juggles kids' busy schedules, juggles jobs, and still has fun doing all that stuff. And so, you know, there's lots of Alaska families that do that and there's a lot of American families that do the same.
VAN SUSTEREN: You've met Senator McCain?
VAN SUSTEREN: And was it the first time in the last three weeks?
VAN SUSTEREN: Or have you met him before?
VAN SUSTEREN: Where did you first meet him?
PALIN: In D.C.
VAN SUSTEREN: When?
VAN SUSTEREN: Oh, so you were there in February. I mean, that's...
PALIN: Well, February or March. I think it was February.
VAN SUSTEREN: What did you think?
PALIN: I was very impressed because, I mean, just an American hero. The first meeting was just -- you know, the first thing he said to us was, you know, Tell your son thank you for his service. And you know, as the conversation continued on -- their son was just getting home the next week, so that bond right there was pretty powerful.
VAN SUSTEREN: He had a great line about you. He said, Have you met the governor's husband? You know what he said, right?
VAN SUSTEREN: He said you're insane, and he laughed. You didn't see that?
PALIN: I don't think so.
VAN SUSTEREN: It was very -- you would have loved it because it's, like -- he -- it was -- you know, it was a great line. I mean, he was saying it with affection. You could tell that he liked you.
PALIN: Well, you know, from the first meeting with Cindy and John and bringing us on board with their team that's already been in place, and what's in the back of my mind is all the rough days, and then to get to where they're at today, all the hard work that they've had to do. So it's been a huge challenge for them, and I appreciate all their hard work.
VAN SUSTEREN: What do you think of Mrs. McCain?
PALIN: I think she's great. She's a class act.
VAN SUSTEREN: Did she talk to you at all about music?
PALIN: Not yet.
VAN SUSTEREN: Oh, wait! Well, she likes -- wait until you hear what kind of music she likes.
VAN SUSTEREN: Oh, it's very interesting, because I've interviewed her. Did you meet Senator McCain's mother?
VAN SUSTEREN: Now, she's another interesting person.
PALIN: Ninety-six years old.
VAN SUSTEREN: She's pretty fun, isn't she.
PALIN: Just amazing.
VAN SUSTEREN: And we interviewed her, as well. And boy, I tell you, she speaks her mind.
VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, that she -- she certainly speaks her mind. And I love the way she always teases -- she teases about her son, calls him Johnny.
PALIN: Yes. I've heard that.
VAN SUSTEREN: So you leave here soon. You go back. You hit the trail. I mean, your life's sort of getting turned upside-down.
PALIN: Well, I mean, it's fun. I mean, going to states that we've never been to before, I mean, who would turn down that opportunity or that experience so...
VAN SUSTEREN: What's it like -- I mean, people are standing out there, crowds, calling your wife's name. That's not peculiar?
PALIN: Her popularity in the state and coming across those situations before -- I mean, it's definitely on a bigger scale, but you know, she's very popular. She relates to the people, and you know, they enjoy her.
VAN SUSTEREN: When she went out to speak at the Republican National Convention, were you nervous before she went on?
PALIN: No, I mean, she's...
VAN SUSTEREN: You're probably the only one then because that's how -- all her friends were nervous. Her sister was nervous. Everybody was nervous.
PALIN: I mean, I guess I can't really say that I wasn't nervous. You know, I was probably a little nervous. But you know, I'm very proud of her and I know that, you know, that's her game.
VAN SUSTEREN: After she gave her speech, what did you say to her?
PALIN: Oh, I said, Great speech, you know?
VAN SUSTEREN: And she said?
PALIN: Oh, she said, you know, Thanks. I mean, I don't exactly remember the -- exactly, but I was very proud of her. And she did a great job.
VAN SUSTEREN: Coming up, more of your interview with Todd Palin. The next part is fun. Where does the name "First Dude" come from? And just what should we call this man if he becomes the vice president's husband? He will tell you.
VAN SUSTEREN: More of your interview with Todd Palin, father of five and husband of Senator McCain's running mate, Governor Sarah Palin.
VAN SUSTEREN: What do you think about at night? Like, you're lying in bed and you think, OK, I've got to take care of -- we've got to take care of the kids. We got five kids. I've got my job. I've got my wife, who's running for vice president of the United States. We're going all over the country. I mean -- I mean, it's -- it's busy.
PALIN: Well, you know what they say. Well, how do they do it? You know, they've got five kids and how do they do it? It's always been the same criticism towards her. You know, it's like when she ran for mayor the first time, and you know, a fellow council member told her, you know, You can't do it because you've got three negatives, you know, Track, Bristol and Willow. Those are the three kids we had at the time.
So now, you know, Track is getting deployed to Iraq, so there's not five in the house that we have to manage. You know, we have four. And then our oldest -- or then our daughter is going to be 18 soon, last year of high school. So I mean, she's not high maintenance.
And so basically, we're down to about three right now. So you know, she'll go back and forth, and then our oldest daughter will come out, too. So we're just another family that just adapts.
VAN SUSTEREN: Proud of your son going off to Iraq?
PALIN: Very proud of him. And we went out to their graduation, boot camp, last year in Georgia, Fort Benning, and it was just quite the experience.
VAN SUSTEREN: Are you surprised he did that?
PALIN: He's been talking about it for a number of years. And when him and his buddy got together and decided to make the step, it was his decision. And we're very proud of him and proud of the military for just training him and getting him prepared for his next mission.
VAN SUSTEREN: OK. Go back to this "First Dude." I mean, who came up with "First Dude"? It's a great name. I mean, who came up with "First Dude"?
PALIN: I can't remember. But I'm not the first male -- first spouse that's been called "First Dude." The gentleman from Kansas who's a judge, he's got that title. He's told me that's his. And I said, You've got it. So he's a great guy.
VAN SUSTEREN: So are you -- so we should be calling you "Second Dude"? I mean, because there's really -- I mean, you understand, you have, like, sort of turned us upside-down a little bit because we really -- we're really unsure what to call you. It's like, you know -- you know, "Todd" is way too familiar because you could -- you could be the husband of the vice president of the United States. We can't call you just Todd. I mean, just we can't. We can't...
PALIN: I'm sure there'll be...
VAN SUSTEREN: "First Dude" is fine.
PALIN: ... A name that pops up. You know, Todd -- you know, all my fishing buddies call us "mud monkeys" because we fish in the mud, you know, so...
VAN SUSTEREN: How about, like, "First Gentleman"? Is that -- had that been a thought when you were -- as the governor's husband?
PALIN: Well, that's what -- someone referred to me as the first gentleman, so...
VAN SUSTEREN: Does that fit? I mean, do you like that name, or is that...
PALIN: Todd fits good.
VAN SUSTEREN: Todd fits good?
VAN SUSTEREN: How about "First Dude"? Do you like "First Dude"?
PALIN: You know, it's all right.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, that -- so that's just all right. So Todd is what you want to be called.
PALIN: Todd's fine. Todd works good.
VAN SUSTEREN: Don't forget, if you can't get enough of Todd Palin, go to Gretawire.com. We have tons of video with the "First Dude" posted right there.
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