OTR Interviews

Palin Explains Decision Not to Run for President: I Can 'Wake Up Americans to What Is Going On in Our Country'

Former Alaska governor explains her decision not to run for president in 2012


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," October 5, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: This is a "Fox News Alert." It is "no." Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin will not seek the GOP nomination for president. Governor Palin is here. She joins us.

Governor, I want to talk to you about your decision, but first your thoughts tonight on Steve Jobs dying because I think he probably has probably touched all of us in so many ways, and I'm curious to hear your thoughts tonight.

SARAH PALIN, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR/FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: Certainly has touched all of us and changed in such a positive way the way that the world communicates. I know personally for us, I was thinking about Steve Jobs this evening, that he touching our family with his ingenuity, with his work ethic in the invention of the iPad. Our youngest child -- he's not able to speak, he communicates via sign language, but he loves his iPad and loves to play this "Talking Tom" game on that. And he's able to kind of communicate with us through that.

So just a personal touch that, really, I think illustrates that Steve Jobs was certainly not a singular man. He was not an -- he was an island (ph) that touched so many people. And he will surely be missed.

VAN SUSTEREN: You mention the fact that your youngest child has used the iPad. I might even -- I don't know if I'm talking out of school, but I saw the Sharpie marker he made, in fact, on your iPad, that permanent marker on your iPad.

PALIN: That's right.

VAN SUSTEREN: Indeed. All right. OK. Now to your news. You decided it's a no. Why?

PALIN: Decided that it's a no, Greta, because after prayerful consideration and a lot of discussion with the family, I concluded that I believe I can be an effective voice in a real decisive role in helping get true public servants elected to office, not just in the presidency, but we have 33 Senate seats coming up. We have a House of Representatives that we need to strengthen in numbers, conservatives who understand that our country has got to get back on the right track economically here, and governors' seats around the nation. I believe I can be an effective voice for some positive change in these positions.

And I apologize to those whom are disappointed in this decision. I've been hearing from them in the last couple of hours. But I believe that they, when they take a step back, will understand why the decision was made and understand that, really, you don't need a title to make a difference in this country. I think that I'm proof of that.

And we together united can surely help as a team to get this country back on the right track by making sure that Barack Obama is not reelected and making sure that Senate seats go to constitutionalists and the House of Representatives is strengthened with more conservatives.

VAN SUSTEREN: I can't even -- I imagine, in some ways -- and you know, I try to put myself in a guest's shoes -- but I imagine, in some ways, it's a disappointment. The fact is, though, that you are, you know, a young woman and there are, you know, many more years for other future chances -- you know, efforts to run for president should you ever want to.

But is there some sort of a little bit of, you know -- you know, sadness or, like, you know, Boy, I wish I could do it now?

PALIN: You know, there was that sense through my own personal internal deliberations in making this decision. I would go back and forth about whether now is the time, and if I say no to the opportunity that's in front of me via running for office now, will -- political speaking, will I die? Will I be ineffective?

But no, after making the decision today and making the announcement, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt after great confirmation today, too, Greta, personally speaking -- I know that it's the right decision and I know that I can join others and be effective in helping change what's going on in our country and help wake up Americans to what is going on in our country.

VAN SUSTEREN: Did you watch Governor Christie when he made his seven millionth no? And if so, what were you thinking as you were listening to him?

PALIN: I did. I watched that, Greta. And to tell you the truth, I made my announcement today in the format that I did because that was his seven millionth no, and I didn't want to go through all of that. I wanted to, you know, just kind of put the marker down and say, No, I'm not running, not have a big press conference about it, not make a big darn deal about it because this isn't about me. And it's not about Chris Christie.

This isn't about one potential candidate or candidates who is going to jump in there. This is about Americans who are understanding that we have got to get the right people in these positions of leadership in our country to get us back on the right track. We have to reduce tax burdens. We have to reduce onerous regulations that are chasing American jobs offshore.

We have got to become energy independent. We have got to learn again not how to not coddle our enemies but how to embrace our allies around the world so that our world will be a more peaceful place.

It's not about me, not about Chris Christie. It is about a team effort here in America to strengthen us again and to defend our republic.

VAN SUSTEREN: How do you find -- or make the determination who that leader is within your party? Because the things that you just named, for the most part, is the Republican platform. There may be some sort of hair- splitting. I know that they say Governor -- Governor Mitt Romney and the health care and they're poking at each other and fighting and jostling for position. But you know, what is it exactly that -- you know, how do you determine who's the best leader for your party?

PALIN: There is no one perfect candidate, and I want people to keep that in mind and not be extremely disappointed in a politician. A politician is going to let you down. They're going to make decisions that you don't entirely agree with. And you can't just lose hope in what that politician's ideas reflect and represent.

We have got to be listening to candidates' ideas, understanding what their record is so that we know that their track record will give us a picture of where they intend to bring this country forward. But we have got to not just put all of our faith in an individual, or we will be sorely disappointed.

Now, it's going to be through the debates, and obviously, through their campaign efforts that we hear their message, that we get to vet them and learn more about their records, and that's extremely important. It's a long process. Again, don't put all your hope and faith in an individual, but in their ideas and what they represent, the faith that you can have that they know what they're doing and they can bring this country forward - - listening to the will of the people.

VAN SUSTEREN: I'm curious who called. I know that the minute I saw the Rick Klein in an ABC note tweet, that's when I first learned about it, so I picked up the phone and called to hustle you to come on the air tonight. But I'm sort of curious. I know that politicians are going to call you and talk to you and get your endorsements. Have you received any phone calls tonight from politicians?

PALIN: Todd has. Good old Todd. He's the one answering the phone and setting up meetings already for us, including a few politicians who would like to meet...


PALIN: And I do look forward to hearing more personally from these politicians. You'll have to ask Todd. Let him be a guest on your show some night, Greta. I mean, he's good. He'd be really good on this show!


VAN SUSTEREN: Is he there?

PALIN: But I look forward...

VAN SUSTEREN: Is he there?

PALIN: ... to hearing these politicians -- he is behind the camera, as a matter of fact!

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, well, let me just dig a little bit deeper. I'm going to see if I can pry and see if I can get any information out of you. Are any of the politicians who called, are they running for president now?

PALIN: Yes. Yes. I look forward to hearing from them. I look forward to working with them in order to maybe help them articulate their message even in more detail so that we can make that best decision of who our nominee should be to unseat Barack Obama.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, we'll have to pound -- see if I can get that information out of Todd, so I'll see if I can get that for the viewers on another night, maybe by tomorrow night.

All right, now, in terms of -- let me ask a couple things about the candidates, then about the race. Herman Cain has surged in recent days. He won the Florida straw poll vote. And now, according to one CBS News poll, he is now tied with Governor Romney. What do you make of this?

PALIN: I'm not surprised. Herman Cain is not a politician. He has the business acumen and that background in the private sector, knowing how to create jobs and meet a bottom line and understanding the work ethic. He's pulled himself up from the bootstraps.

That's that Americana story that so many of us are intrigued with and impressed with. So look forward to hearing more details about Herman Cain's 9-9-9 program and what he proposes in terms of being able to reduce taxes even further and not look at taxes as just some kind of revenue generator so that government can grow, but treat government -- let the private sector grow the businesses. I believe he knows how to do that, so I look forward to hearing more of his details.

VAN SUSTEREN: I imagine that in thinking of whether you'd run or not run, you looked at President Obama just from -- not just necessarily in policies but in terms of just running for office. I'm curious, what do you think are his greatest strengths and greatest -- his greatest strength and greatest weakness as a politician going into this race?

PALIN: Herman Cain?

VAN SUSTEREN: No, President Obama.

PALIN: President Obama. Oh, his weakness is his track record. It's been a record of failure. You know, he's got a couple of successes there, thanks to our Navy SEALs. But I would say, overall, he has failed, especially with economic issues, he not understanding that it is the private sector that creates jobs. It's not going to be government. He is so absent from that reality that I give him an F in terms of economic success. So that is his -- that's his failure.

What his strength is, if you can consider this a strength, he's going to have a billion dollars up against the Republican candidates, and he's going to have about 90 percent of the media still there in his back pocket. That will be his strength.

But I believe that enough Americans have awakened to that fundamental transformation of America that really is transforming us into something unrecognizable that candidate Obama had promised, that he's trying to follow through on as our president.

Enough of us have wakened up to what it is that we could become with our liberties eroding, and we're saying, No, enough is enough. We will replace you, regardless of that billion dollars that we're up against, regardless of the mainstream media who will continue to not only refuse to vet you and learn more about what makes you tick, Barack Obama -- regardless of all of that, people are awake. They want a change. They want positive developments in our country. We do not want to be a bankrupt, dangerous place to be. We will replace Barack Obama, despite those strengths, if you will, that he has.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, I don't know if you saw it or not, but former lieutenant governor of the state of Maryland, a friend of mine, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend of the Kennedy family, wrote an article in which -- in the headline, it said something to the effect that she agrees with Governor Sarah Palin -- it's on the issue of crony capitalism.

But I'm curious, are you surprised to see a prominent Democrat sort of reach across the aisle and so publicly say that she agrees with you on something?

PALIN: I appreciate her boldness in publicly saying she agrees with Sarah Palin. But I also say, OK, that that is proof that this crony capitalism problem that will bankrupt our country if we do not stop it -- it reaches across party lines.

Unfortunately, both sides of the aisle have been participants in the pay-for-play schemes and this cronyism that, as I say, will bankrupt our country if we don't stop that. So I appreciated her comments and her agreement that enough is enough in that arena. And we united, both parties, have got to say no more of the pay-for-play deals that we're seeing coming out of Washington.

VAN SUSTEREN: And I might add that you two probably don't agree a lot on of policy. You probably agree on some of it, but I didn't mean to suggest you both agree on everything, but I thought it was sort of just interesting that you both don't like that.

But I'm going to take the last word on that. Governor Palin, thank you, and good luck.

PALIN: Thank you so much, Greta.