OTR Interviews

Palin on Trump-Obama-Birther Controversy: Media Trying to Make 'Curious Americans Sound Kind of Crazy'

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," April 26, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: More questions for the president tonight. It isn't just Donald Trump asking them. Former governor Sarah Palin took to Facebook just a short time ago with this question for President Obama. "When do you ever just roll up your sleeves, unplug the teleprompter and do the job of governing and administrating for which voters hired you?" So what provoked that blistering question on FaceBook by the governor?

Joining us is former governor Sarah Palin. Good evening, Governor. And Governor, what in the world provoked those rather blistering words for the president?

SARAH PALIN, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR/FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: Well, Greta, he wrapped up a week last week on the campaign trail trying to raise his billion dollars that he's promised he's going to need and spend in order for his reelection bid, which is 19 months away. And he spent the week in that mode instead of dealing with the challenges facing America.

There need to be questions asked of him. What is he doing about gas prices that are going to hit 5 bucks a gallon here shortly? What are we doing about Libya? How are we going to explain our intervention there as we're letting Syria suffer from this bloodbath and Yemen and Egypt and Israel's civilians not being protected? The inconsistencies in his befuddled and befuddling foreign policy -- there need to be questions answered from him on what we're doing militarily and economically.

And instead, he spent the week on the campaign trail. And I think it's appalling. We can't afford our commander-in-chief and our top CEO of our nation to be in that mode, not at this time, not when there are so many woes that people are suffering from in America.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, your words are quite tough with the president. In fact, you also whacked him about playing golf, about the NBA, about the National Hockey League, summer vacation and campaigning. Are you suggesting that he is not paying any attention to his job, or can he multi- task? What's your thought on this?

PALIN: I'm sure he can multi-task. Other presidents have also engaged in vocations, vocations, and still done their job. But the job that the president is supposed to be doing is not only protecting us with strong national security policy but helping getting this economy back on the right track. This needs to be first and foremost his job.

And instead, the perception that he is giving Americans is that he almost can't be bothered with some of the issues that are facing the rest of us as we're looking for answers from the White House. And if he's not willing, Greta, to engage in some of these tough issues that have to be addressed, then it's all the more reason for government to just step aside, get out of the private sector's way.

Don't monetize debt. Don't engage in more quantitative easing. Don't look at more bailouts and more stimulus type funding and more deficit spending. Just get out of the way and let the private sector start growing and thriving and let the private sector get the economy back on the right track. We can't afford to wait for the White House, evidently to fix the problems for us.

VAN SUSTEREN: In your Facebook posted today, you said that he should step up to justify our involvement in Libya. Are you not satisfied with his March 28th explanation as to why the United States is in Libya? And if not, why not?

PALIN: He's been extremely inconsistent in the reasons given for our involvement in Libya. First it was, Oh, Qaddafi's got to go. He's an evil dictator killing his own people. And a lot of us stood by the president and said, yes, we agree that he's got to go, so let's make sure we're participating in the no-fly zone and make sure that NATO is equipped, that we're participating there so that he can't continue an aerial slaughter.

And then we're told, though, No, it's not our job to tell the Libyan people who their leader should be. It's not our job to oust Qaddafi. So right there is that inconsistency that breeds uncertainty, which breeds a whole lot of other problems and leads to Americans wanting answers from our commander-in-chief. What are we doing in Libya? And why Libya and not Syria, which, as I said, is a bloodbath today? And they're -- Syria's getting ready to hook up with Iran, which our ally Israel's greatest threat. Why aren't we intervening in Syria, then? Why not Yemen, Egypt, Bahrain, some of these other areas.

Bottom line, Greta, is we cannot afford to be engaged in any of these military interventions unless America's interests are being challenged. And we need to hear from our president, What is our interest there in Libya?

VAN SUSTEREN: Do we have an interest in Libya? What's your answer?

PALIN: Well, you know, to whom much is given, much is required. America is such a blessed and prosperous nation. And we are that beacon of hope for those who seek freedom. So yes, I believe that it is our responsibility to help freedom fighters who do seriously and genuinely want democracy in their countries. They want their human rights.

But if it's not justified from our Commander-in-Chief, if he's not able to explain to us why it is consistently that we would choose one country over another to intervene, and when we're looking at trillion- dollar deficits from here until as far as the eye can see and a $14 trillion debt, we have to be very, very careful in the wars that we choose to engage in. And I do consider this a war. Unfortunately, it's becoming a civil war in Libya that America, with NATO support, has chosen to intervene in. I just want to know why we're there.

VAN SUSTEREN: So what -- how do we decide which war to engage in? How do we know whether to help in Egypt or in Yemen or in Libya? I mean, what is your sort of criteria in terms of when the United States should get involved and should not?

PALIN: Well, first, we're only going to get involved if we're in it to win it. And to win it in Libya is, as the president first said, Qaddafi is ousted. That means we've got to get in there and we've got to hit hard and we do have to oust Qaddafi. And then we make sure that the Libyan people aren't taken over by terrorists, that the government isn't going to be worse than what they just suffered from. That criteria right there should be the foundation. If we're going to be intervening, we need to be committed to win it.

But you know, here's another thing, Great. We cannot be the world's ATM. And I wouldn't want to be the world's babysitter. We have to make sure that we're choosing wisely what -- especially in this day and age of America's debt and the road to bankruptcy we're on, we have to be so extremely careful in where it is that we choose to intervene. That's why I go back to rationale for Libya. Please, Mr. President, just be clear with us. Why Libya? Why not elsewhere?

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, a question I asked Governor Pawlenty last night and Governor Romney, as well -- gas prices. Now, many Americans are paying up to $5 a gallon of gas. If you were president, or if you could do something about it, what exactly would you do? And how soon could you get those prices down to something like $4 a gallon or even less?

PALIN: Well, I never would have done what President Obama did, and that's engage in that moratorium after the tragedy in the gulf with the spill. He should have been more sensible in figuring out what the problem was, what the solution was to the gulf spill but not take it out on the rest of the country and prohibit drilling onshore and offshore, is what he did. Ninety-seven percent of our offshore area locked up after that. And there still is a quasi-moratorium because the EPA is making it virtually impossible for drillers to be out there extracting responsibly the God- given resources that we have domestically.

So that's certainly a difference that I would have had with President Obama. Had I been in that chair, I would have said, No, we're going to allow the domestic drilling. And we're not going to subsidize Brazil or other foreign countries and ramp up production in those countries as we promise that we'll be their best customer if only they'll drill more! No, I would concentrate on the domestic drilling here.

Now, the president's engaged now in what he wants to get to the bottom of with -- whether it be collusion or price fixing or speculators, what else is driving up the cost. Well, he can look at other states like Alaska. We already did a study to find out, was it collusion, was it speculators? What was driving up the last big spike in gas prices? And we found that, no, more than anything, it is a supply and demand, a very basic economic principle, supply and demand.

He needs to maybe take the results from other states' findings where we've already conducted those same studies, those same investigations, find those results, plug them in and then really get serious about drilling domestically and not looking at subsidizing some of the hare-brained ideas that he has, thinking that green energy is going to solve all of our problems today.

VAN SUSTEREN: So but how soon can we get those prices down? I mean, you know, those are sort of the big picture. I mean, is it realistic to think that there is some strategy, there's something that can be done to bring those prices down in rather short order because they are extremely punitive to Americans, whether they're trying to drive to work or trucking industry, moving groceries from the warehouse to the grocery store? I mean, this is -- this is extremely difficult for many Americans.

PALIN: It is extremely difficult, and it's going to continue to be so. And you combine the devalued dollar that the Fed has made Americans suffer from -- and that's going to get even worse unless Obama intervenes there, too -- you combine the devalued dollar with lack of domestic supply, and unfortunately, Americans can count on some higher gas prices for a while here, which is so unfortunate. That just weighs down the economic growth that is potential here in America. It really stymies the potential of development in our country.

And of course, petroleum products touch every aspect of our life, from food stuffs and fertilizer and transportation and plastics and much of manufacturing. It all has to do with petroleum. So when the price of crude goes up, everything goes up. Again, the deadly combination is the cost of oil going up with the devalued dollar that the federal government does have control of.

You combine those two, and unfortunately, there's not a real bright light at the end of the tunnel here in the very near future, not until things change, not until Obama's out of office, to be very blunt with you.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, you talk about out of office -- let me ask you about 2012, not about you specifically. I may get to that. I don't know. But in terms of (INAUDIBLE) I'm sure you've seen all the controversy surrounding Donald Trump. What do you think about Donald Trump?

PALIN: I respect what he's doing in putting his money where his mouth is. He's actually investigating his speculation there on Obama's birth certificate and Obama's college records and all those things that Obama, though he promises to be a transparent official, he certainly isn't because he could certainly reveal many of these documents and put many of these issues to rest.

But here's -- here's the point with Donald Trump, though, which I hope that he will seize this opportunity. Right now, he's got the spotlight. He's got the megaphone. Now is his opportunity to really force a shift in debate and discussion in this country, get his media friends or his media enemies to really start listening to the other issues that Donald Trump really wants to talk about, and that is the high cost of fuel, that is our relationship with China. That is the bankruptcy road that we are on and what we can do to get off that road. Those things that Donald Trump can talk about I really hope that the media will start shifting with him now that he has the megaphone and the spotlight to the more important, very, very important issues.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you blame the media? Because I mean, it's gotten to be quite a distraction. And I think that, you know -- I know there are a lot of people out there who don't like President Obama so they want to believe he was born someplace else. But so far, you know, people who have investigated this, you know, believe that he has been born here in the United States. I don't have any doubt he's been born here in the United States -- and has gotten a sort of a circus-like -- is that Donald Trump sort of, you know, playing with everybody and being a distraction away from those important issues, or do you blame the media?

PALIN: I think the media is loving this because they want to make birthers, as they call people who are just curious about the President of the United States and his background and his associations and his consistency with what he says today versus what he said in both the memoirs that he wrote or Bill Ayers or whomever wrote them -- the media is loving the fact that some curious Americans are actually asking the questions. And they're trying to make those curious Americans sound kind of crazy. So the media is loving this issue and they're perpetuating the issue, trying to make it sound really worse than it is.

What the heck is wrong with asking the President of the United States to disclose what his college thesis was, what some of the Harvard Law Review papers were that he wrote? I don't care about his grades. I don't care if he was a C student. You know, more power to the C student. What I care about is what goes into his thinking today? What is his foundation from his background? A lot of that could be reflected in the writings that he produced as a college and a grad student.

VAN SUSTEREN: I guess, you know, I -- you know, I look at sort of my own life, and I think to myself is that when I was 20 years old or 18 years old, you know, I fear what I thought or said or whatever. And so I think that this is a little bit of a distraction, going back, trying to dig up his old stuff. I'm more curious, looking at his March 28th speech on Libya and going through that and seeing whether or not I think that's a strong foreign policy, whatever. I mean, I -- I guess I see a lot of this sort of going back and digging into people's backgrounds -- and you've been, you know, the target of this stuff, too -- is that I sort of feel a little bit like, you know, When are we going to sort of give it a rest and focus on these important issues?

PALIN: Well, you know, when you talk about personal background, and I guess, family matters, I'm kind of I think the poster child for, "Hey, lay off and let's talk about what the real issues are." You know, because for the last three years, every nook and cranny of my life and every stone has been kicked over to find out what makes me tick. I don't think that it's unwarranted, this curiosity of some Americans to try to find out what goes into the president's thinking when he makes decisions that affect our daily lives.

You're right, though, that that speech that was given on the 28th concerning Libya, that needs to be concentrated on. That brings me back, too, though, to wanting to know what does go into his thinking in an issue like Libya? Why would the commander-in-chief of the United States military want our troops to be under the control of anybody else, of NATO? No! I want our troops to be under the command of the United States commander-in- chief.

So when he makes a decision like that, on Libya in this case, just a couple of weeks ago, people want to know, Well, why? What is he thinking? And that brings me back to what I wrote on my Facebook, Greta. If he could spend the time telling the American people what it is that he engages in, in terms of a thought process and his multitude of advisers -- how do they come up with some of these policies, I think we would all be better off and we would be able to trust our government more. And a lot of this does have to do with the disenchantment and a disenfranchisement from our government. We want to be able to trust our government.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, let me ask you a question. I just said, What about the media being distracted by digging into everybody's background. I guess I'm going to fall right into this trap by asking you this question -- your thoughts on Katie Couric making the announcement she's leaving after I said we should focus on the important issues, but now because you and Katie went head-to-head, I ask you. What do you think about her retirement, from CBS at least?

PALIN: Right, right, right, right, right. Yes, I think I read that in a newspaper, one of many newspapers that I read on line. Yes, and I hear that she wants to now engage in more multi-dimensional storytelling, versus, I guess, just the straight-on read into that teleprompter screen storytelling. So more power to her. I wish her well with her multi-dimensional storytelling.

VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, thank you very much.

PALIN: Thanks so much, Greta. Talk to you soon.