This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," February 16, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: Now for the top story tonight, reaction [to Tea Party extremism]. Joining us from Little Rock, Fox News analyst Sarah Palin, who's doing a Republican fundraiser in Arkansas.
So Governor, you gave the keynote a couple weeks ago in Nashville for the Tea Party Convention. Did you see extremism? Do you think it's a danger to the Tea Party?
SARAH PALIN, FOX NEWS ANALYST: It was an honor to be able to deliver that keynote and really connect with Tea Partiers who have a simple message. A lot of people, I guess this New York Times reporter, they just don't like that message of we being taxed enough and wanting to remind our elected officials of their constitutional limitations of big government, and just kind of get government back on the side of the people. It was an honor to connect with those people.
Didn't see the extremism that, of course, those in some of the mainstream media and some self-proclaimed elites would like the rest of America to believe is encompassing the Tea Party movement. Didn't see that.
O'REILLY: OK, but I heard Tom Tancredo, former congressman from Colorado, you know, level some pretty tough charges on illegal immigration. And, you know, he's known for that. I didn't think it was racist, but I thought it went right up to the line. We sent our producer Jesse Watters down. He did see signs that were extremists. There's no doubt about that. In the article in The New York Times today, the "people who are getting their guns ready" and things like this.
O'REILLY: So you do know that this strain exists under that umbrella.
PALIN: Well, obviously though, you got to consider the source. This reporter, it's going to go out and find that extreme fringe…
O'REILLY: That's right.
PALIN: …within a movement like this. So we have to keep that in perspective, too. That is what I believe a lot of folks in the mainstream media want Americans to believe is that this is, for the most part, a fringe element of our society. It is not. And if these reporters, too, Bill, don't know the people that are a part of a Tea Party movement, they need to get a life. They need to get out maybe into a small town and get to know the local business owner, the local gas station owner, the local…
O'REILLY: Well, they went to Sand Point, Idaho, The Times did. And then they brought in all the Nazi stuff that had been up there. And they brought in all the militia stuff, Weaver and such that had been up there.
Look, there's no doubt that The New York Times wants to brand the Tea Party as a bunch of extremist loons. There's no doubt they want to do that. But there is danger, do you agree with me, that there is danger if some Tea Party people play into that? If they do say we're getting our guns and we're going to overthrow and Obama is this and Obama is that and he isn't born here. I mean, there was a birther thing going on at the convention. You don't believe in the birther thing do you, Governor?
PALIN: No. And those wild conspiracy theories about our own government I think shouldn't have a part of the dialogue of the debate. What the debate needs to be about is the good ideas, the foundational principles that built this country into the most prosperous and healthiest and most voluntarily generous nation on earth. Safest place, too. We need to get back to those principles.
O'REILLY: But I'm unclear. I'm unclear. Do you think that the birther people should have a place at the Tea Party table? Do you think they should be a place there?
PALIN: There is always going to be an element of those who want to be a part of a movement, who have their own ideas of where the country should go or what's going on with the country.
O'REILLY: Then what do you do with those people? Do you accept them and embrace them?
PALIN: Well, one, you don't take away their First Amendment rights. And we say you cannot speak about those things or ask those questions that you want answers to. That's part of democracy at work is those…
O'REILLY: But do you see the danger that if that becomes the headline, then the mainstream American, who isn't really following it that closely says hey, you know…
PALIN: I see the danger of more of the same of the mainstream media wanting to paint Tea Partiers as radical wacko conspiracy theorists. And if we allow that to happen then, no, this grassroots movement of the people wanting their voice to be heard because there is such a disconnect between what's going on in Washington and the people that Washington is supposed to be serving.
O'REILLY: How does the Tea Party then expand its power base with no leadership, no central authority, so that you could have in one state a great Tea Party, a bunch of people who are, you know, just concerned about their country, sincere, clear-thinking individuals, but then you could have another group up in the mountains with bazookas, you know, saying, hey, we're not going to obey the laws, we're not going to pay taxes, we're not going to do this, we are not going to do that. Because if there isn't any central theme, if there isn't any authority that says you can go up to this line but you can't go over it, I don't know…
PALIN: There doesn't have to be an authority. That's the point of this. This isn't a well-oiled machine. Heaven forbid it become like a Republican or a Democrat political machine. This is a movement. So there doesn't have to be someone or some group of people with titles.
O'REILLY: But how does it then get beyond just a curiosity? Look, the Tea Party people, and I know this from me doing speeches and you do speeches around the country, you're doing one in Arkansas. The Tea Party people really want change. That's what unifies them all, the loons and the good people. They really want the government to change. But you're never going to get that unless you get political clout and power, unless you drive the other people out.
PALIN: Well, I beg to differ though with your suggestion that there is not a common theme amongst the Tea Partiers. And yes, there is. It's very simple. It's smaller, smarter government.
O'REILLY: No, I know.
PALIN: More freedom allowing our small businesses and our families to make our own decisions and prioritize our own incomes and reinvestment opportunities so that we can grow and thrive and create more jobs. There is that common theme and strong national defense. So with that strong theme, what the Tea Partiers are going to be able to do is find candidates who can be in a position to cast the votes that affect every one of us, every one of our businesses and our families, final candidates and support them.
O'REILLY: Do you, being at this Republican deal in Arkansas tonight, do you think the Tea Party will eventually merge with the Republican Party? Do you see them in the next election '12 coming together or will they be separate?
PALIN: Well, most Tea Partiers I know, they are independent. They're not registered in either one of the political parties. And they haven't been politically active in terms of being obsessively partisan one way or the other. But they are more aligned, it seems, with the ideals, the planks and platform of the Republican Party.
O'REILLY: Oh, there's no doubt. Right.
PALIN: And the Republican Party would be very wise to be listening to what they're saying, to understand the frustrations of those independent Americans who are saying Washington is disconnected from the people who are to be served.
O'REILLY: OK. Now, we're going to have more with Governor Palin in a moment. A sitcom attacks her family. She will react to the "Family Guy."
O'REILLY: Continuing now with Fox News analyst Sarah Palin, who's in Arkansas this evening and has some thoughts on this scene from the "Family Guy."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're going to be this rude all evening? You haven't asked me anything about myself.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, um, sorry. So what do your parents do?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's better. My dad's an accountant and my mom is the former governor of Alaska.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
O'REILLY: So, Governor, what do you think? It's pretty nasty, is it not?
PALIN: This world is full of cruel, cold hearted people, who would do such a thing. Look, I look at Trig and I see perfection. I see a precious little child already toddling around. You can see that he has a heart of gold. I also can see into the future that Trig is going to have a pretty tough challenging life in front of him. He's going to face things special needs children will be facing, much more difficult than we ever will. So why make it tougher on the special needs community? That's what I thought when I first heard about this episode that really isn't funny.
But so many people had asked me well, what's your reaction to this? You know, you had Rahm Emanuel using the "f'ing retard" term, calling people out. And you've had other people mocking, even our president mocked Special Olympiads. And well, what do you say about this Fox Hollywood episode of this cartoon? And one person who had asked me my reaction was my daughter Bristol. And I asked Bristol, I said well, honey, what do you think about this? And Bristol gave me words that were very wise and very gracious. And they were such good words in terms of what her response was to this episode, that I Facebooked it today. And I'm like Bristol I will let your words speak for me because you're much more gracious and I guess forgiving of things like this than I could be. So on my Facebook has the comments from Bristol that kind of sum up the way I look at people who think that things like this are funny.
O'REILLY: All right. Do you want to give us a hint? Some of the people don't have computers and stuff like that. And summarize it how?
PALIN: Yeah, well, when is enough enough? And when are we going to be willing to say, you know, some things just aren't really funny.
O'REILLY: No, I agree with you. I, look, this guy MacFarlane who did this is a hater. Makes a lot of money for Fox, but I think there should be some standards sometime, but apparently there aren't. I do want to get…
PALIN: Well, this is what Bristol said about it, too, though. Bristol reminded me. And she'll remind these million-plus Facebook readers. She's going to remind people that those in the special needs community truly are some of the most loving and compassionate people in the world. So why pile it on to them and make their lives even that much more challenging?
O'REILLY: There's no reason. Yeah, there's no reason.
PALIN: She said it best.
O'REILLY: Now I want to give you a chance to clarify something that I've gotten a lot of mail on. You call for Rahm Emanuel to actually step aside because he said "f'ing retard." And then Rush Limbaugh said it, he was talking about political correctness, that was before Emanuel, I think it was. But you said OK, there was a difference between what Emanuel did and what Limbaugh…
PALIN: Yeah, so let's talk about this. Let's clarify. First, Rahm Emanuel, who represents the most powerful man, the leader of our free world, called people — a group of people whom he disagreed with "f'ing retards." Quite inappropriate. And on my Facebook I said there too, I don't think he should be part of our president's inner circle making decisions that affect every single one of us. So that's what I said about Rahm Emanuel. I thought that that was very insensitive. And not just that reason, his terminology, his coarse language, but I think he's given our president some very bad advice in a whole realm of different areas. So I think, you know, there needs to be replacement there.
And as for Rush Limbaugh, no, I believe that it was after Rahm Emanuel said what he said that Rush Limbaugh, using satire, not calling a group of people "f'ing retards" but using, yes the R-word. And I said that calling names, any person, any party, it's just, come on, let's all grow up. And let's not call each other names, because it certainly kind of invalidates what our argument's all about when we start calling people names.
O'REILLY: OK. But just to be clear, you didn't come down on Mr. Limbaugh because you felt that, what, he didn't have any ill intent in what he said? Or why didn't you come on him a little harder?
PALIN: As I have explained, he was using satire using the R-word so he can bring to light what it was that Rahm Emanuel was calling other people. And…
PALIN: …then, too, I think that's why a lot of people said, OK, well, you come down hard on the president for teasing Special Olympiads. You come down hard on Rahm Emanuel for calling people "f'ing retards." Are you going to say anything about Fox having this episode about "Family Guy" teasing special needs child? And that's why I reacted to that one, too.
When I gave my vice presidential nomination speech at the GOP Convention, I promised the special needs community that they would have a friend and an advocate in the White House. And just because John McCain and I did not win, that did not take away my passion for helping those who want to reach out and ask me to do what I can to allow this country, this world to be a more welcoming place for all innocent people, all special needs children. I'm going to keep pursuing that in our country until we are a more tolerant, compassionate, welcoming place for the innocents.
O'REILLY: You know, I — that's very noble, Governor. And I can't say enough. I mean, I think that is excellent. When people like "Family Guy" do what they do, I think you got to call them out. I think you got to call them out every time until it stops. And we appreciate you taking the time to talk to us and clarify stuff tonight. Have fun in Arkansas. We'll see you soon.
PALIN: Thank you so much.
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