This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," September 12, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Tonight, the Tea Party taking a part in a political showdown in the state of Florida, eight big Republican names going head to head, each one telling you to give him or her President Obama's job.
Now, in just minutes, four of those Tea Party debaters/presidential contenders go "On the Record" right here. Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is here, Representative Michele Bachmann, Mr. Herman Cain and former senator Rick Santorum.
But first, former governor Sarah Palin goes "On the Record" from Wasilla, Alaska. Good evening, Governor.
SARAH PALIN, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR/FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: Hi, Greta. How are you?
VAN SUSTEREN: Very well. So Governor, let's get the overall view first. What did you think of the Tea Party debate, and I should admit CNN was part of it, too, the CNN/Tea Party debate?
PALIN: I was very pleased with this debate, and you know, very excited about the validation of the Tea Party movement here, the hook-up with a major news network, CNN, and more power to CNN for allowing that validation of this grass roots Tea Party movement participants from all over the nation being able as a voice of we the people, asking questions of these potential presidents. A very, very wonderful debate in terms of the whole forum and the venue that was chosen.
The winner in this, really, I believe, was the Tea Party movement and that validation of what it is that we have been talking about for two years now, Greta, where we've been saying Obama's big centralized government, his agenda that kind of replicates some of the socialized government policies of some European countries, doesn't work.
So you saw a group tonight up there on stage talking about pro-private sector, entrepreneurial pioneering spirit of America being allowed to thrive and prosper to create jobs. So it was a good debate, especially in those terms.
VAN SUSTEREN: I tell you what surprised me. I -- it's unbelievable to me that out of all the candidates, if my memory's correct, if my notes are correct, it was only former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich who brought up the question of waste. And it seems to me that -- you know, the bottom of many of our problems, whether it's Social Security -- I realize the Tea Party wants the government off its back. I understand all those principles. But a lot of these issues, whether it's Medicare and Medicaid, Social Security, unemployment has to do with money.
And it was almost -- almost -- there almost -- the silence (INAUDIBLE) was deafening, how no one's talking about the billions and billions of dollars of waste, if we just go collect some of that, except Speaker Gingrich tonight.
PALIN: You know, I noticed that, too. And Greta, this is one of the reasons that many of us really love your show because you have been one on top of this issue from day one, talking about the fraud, the waste, the crony capitalism that is a part -- that has been, it seems, accepted in government as part of the permanent political class that we must be rid of or we're never going to get to the root of our economic problems.
So yes, Newt was right on talking the waste. And hopefully, what he talked about could help teach his colleagues up there on stage, and they can all be participants in committing to getting rid of the waste in government.
I think, though -- and I'm going to take heat for saying this, Greta, but I think some of them don't want to go there because they have been participants in some of the waste and casting votes for budgets that are full of waste just to go along to get along, or in their own states. They haven't tackled debt and deficit spending to the degree that they should. So they don't have a real strong record to stand on.
Newt has been very bold about talking about the problem. And we need more discussion about it. But obviously, beyond just words, we actually need the deeds and the records to have shown that these candidates know what they're talking about and know that they can tackle debt and deficits. They've done that in the past, hopefully, and they will show us what their intentions are to make sure that we're tackling debt, deficit, waste and fraud in the future in our government.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, if your theory is correct, then the only one without a guilty conscience up there probably is Mr. Herman Cain, having never been in a position to vote on a budget or be part of a budget, extricate a budget. So he may be the only non-guilty party as far as fraud and waste. And of course, he did have to answer to shareholders as a CEO, so he may be the lucky one on that one. Do you agree or not?
PALIN: Well, he -- coming from the private sector, he does have a very strong record of making sure that there were efficiencies within the businesses that he ran, and that's commendable. That's great.
Now, these candidates, though, who have been part of government, local, state, on the national level, too, who have a record of, unfortunately, kind of participating, as I said, in the going along to get along, casting votes for budgets that maybe they didn't believe in or they preached against, but they voted for them anyway. Well, they need to be held accountable because that's obviously the root problem that we have here with the deficit spending that's been accepted in our federal government and the $14 trillion debt.
So we need to hold these candidates accountable and we need to make sure that they have these true intentions of not allowing it to happen in perpetuity because we can't grow more debt and expect to get out of debt.
Here, Obama, though -- the problem that we're facing -- and this was addressed, I thought, quite well by all the candidates tonight. The problem that we face is candidate Obama had said a couple years ago that he would cut the deficit in half. Instead, he turned around and he tripled it. And in the process, he lost 2.4 million jobs out of the American economy.
So his policies don't work. You saw a team of candidates up there on stage today with good ideas that will work. Any of them, any of their ideas, any of their pro-private sector agenda will be better than what President Obama has done to this country the last couple of years.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, in watching this -- and because of the Tea Party influence, a lot of the questions were, you know, how much should the government be in your life? And there was one series of questions -- we're going to have Representative Michele Bachmann soon, and I want to ask her a little bit more about it. But there was the whole question about the vaccine in Texas and Governor Perry signing an executive order so that 11 and 12-year-olds would have this vaccine. You could opt out, but you were automatically in. And there was some context -- or some discussion about they preferred that you -- you know, you opt in, rather than you opt out.
I'll tell you what stunned me in the discussion is that she said -- and I'm going to get more information from her later when she's on -- she said that the reason that Governor Perry said it, or she suggested it strongly, was because of a campaign contribution, that someone in his office or a prior employee went to work for the drug manufacturer.
And I thought -- I mean, that's the same sort of thing that really makes Americans mad, the cronyism or the suggestion that things -- you know, that it isn't a level playing field out there. And I'm going to ask her about because that's a serious charge to level against Governor Perry. But that -- I was -- I was very surprised by that.
PALIN: Well, someone? That someone, as Michele Bachmann pointed out, was Governor Perry's former chief of staff, who then went to work for a drug company who made the drug that would be required of the Texan government to mandate that, that our young daughters would have to be inoculated against potential disease from the company that his former chief of staff was lobbying for. That's crony capitalism.
That's part of the problem that we have in this country, is that people are afraid, even within our own party, to call one another out on that.
True reform and fighting the corruption and fighting the crony capitalism is a tough thing to do within your own party. You have to go up against the big guns. And they will try to destroy you when you call them out on the mistakes that they have made. Believe me, I know that. I have the bumps and the bruises to prove it because that's what I have been doing for the last 20 years, local, state, and then on the VP trail, at different levels of government, calling out the corruption in government.
Michele Bachmann tried to make that point tonight. And watch, she's going to get -- potentially, she's going to get crucified by some in the party who say, "Don't, you know, don't' violate Reagan's 11th Commandment" and don't call somebody out in your own party on something like that.
Well, no, we have to call one another out on things that have led to the crony capitalism, to the favors, to the back door dealings that have led to, on a state and a federal level, this distrust of government. We the people have great distrust of our federal government, especially right now because we see these things that go on, and people seem too afraid to call one another out on them.
How are we ever going to reform the system and be able to restore what's good and fair and right about America unless we do hold one another accountable? That's what Michele was trying to do.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. I take it from -- a little bit from your discussion -- I don't mean to read into it. You can speak for yourself, obviously -- but that you -- that you are -- that you're pleased with at least with the field tonight or with the way that they answered. Is that correct?
PALIN: Yes, I was pleased. I was very happy with it. Let me go back to that issue with Governor Perry. I was governor of Alaska at the time that that issue came down, and I told our health and human services department Alaska was not going to mandate immunizations for our teenage daughters.
And there had to have been something to that whole issue because it just didn't sound like Governor Perry. Governor Perry was, you know, the proverbial anti-government type of maverick there in Texas, and yet on this issue, he decided that he was going to know better than a parent was going to know in terms of what the health care or health benefit would be for their teenage daughters. So I knew there was something to it.
And remember when the media went a little bit crazy and demanded to see my 25,000 e-mails that I had written during my term as governor. In those e-mails, there is proof of there that the issue arose while I was governor of Alaska. And the e-mails reflect my -- my principle there was, No, government, stay out of the lives of family decisions like that, and do not tell a parent that their daughter must be immunized.
So we know. I knew even at that time something was up with that issue, and now we're finding that, yes, something was up with that issue. And it was a -- it was kind of an illustration or a big of evidence of some crony capitalism.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Now, there's a CNN poll out. You have not announced your candidacy. You've given us no hint either way. And we keep all pounding on you and trying to pry it out of you with all sorts of sneaky questions. But the fact is that having not announced your candidacy, you're in third place, which is quite a remarkable place, considering that others have announced and are obviously not in third place.
So where do you stand tonight? Are you more interested or less interested, more engaged in this, tempted or just finished with it, or what is it?
PALIN: Still very engaged internally with my family in discussions about whether we should do this or not, Greta. But in the meantime, I'm getting kind of a kick out of this, and I have to be honest with you, getting a kick out of getting out there, giving a speech, making some statements about things that must be discussed, and then the very next day watching some of the candidates get out there and discuss what it was that we just talked about, like the corruption, the crony capitalism, the waste, the fraud, some of the things that are going on right now.
It's, like, Come on, candidates! It's about time you started talking about that. And if that perhaps is my role right now, presently, is to get people talking about the issues that the American people deserve to hear discussed and then solutions can -- can result from the discussion about some of these issues that we talk about, I'm going to keep doing that.
VAN SUSTEREN: How about a drop-dead date? What do you consider a drop-dead date?
PALIN: I'm not going to let the media tell me or dictate when a drop- dead date should be. So I don't have an answer for you on that one yet.
VAN SUSTEREN: I'm not trying -- I'm not trying to dictate for you! I'm just curious what you've dictated for yourself. You know, we'll just keep prying and asking the same dopey questions, trying to get it out of you. But I just wondered whether you had decided for yourself if you had a drop-dead date.
PALIN: And I still have that same old dopey same old answer that I'm sure you guys are getting sick of hearing, and that is I'm still thinking about it, praying about it, contemplating, talking to my family. I'm sick of giving the same answer, believe me. I'm anxious to give an answer and get on with life one way or the other.
But whichever direction life takes me, I'm going to continue to speak up for we the people and that Tea Party movement and the mama grizzlies who are very concerned about the lack of jobs in this country, about government overreaching, overregulating, overtaxing us, when those are the things that are happening right now that are stymieing the job potential in this country.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Well, I tried. Again. All right, anyway, Governor, thank you. Nice to see you.
PALIN: Thanks. It's always great to see you.