OTR Interviews

2008 all over again? Why did an Obama campaign ad target Palin?

Why did Pres. Obama's reelection campaign target the former Alaska governor in political ad?


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," March 13, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: If you happened to see the President Obama campaign new ad, you might think it is four years ago. Why? Well, President Obama's new fund-raising video does not target any of the current GOP candidates. Its target, 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.


SARAH PALIN, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR/FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: Barack Obama has never been, I think, seen in the conventional, traditional way of -- of we who would describe a man of valor.

And his profession as a community organizer -- what went into his thinking was this philosophy of radicalism.

He is bringing us back, Sean, to days that -- you could hearken back to days before the Civil War!

What Barack Obama seems to want to do is to go back to before those days when we were in different classes based on income, based on color of skin.


VAN SUSTEREN: Now, Governor Palin has something to say about that. She is taking to Facebook to fire back at the president. She writes, in part, "I'm not running for any office, but I'm more than happy to accept the dubious honor of being Barack Obama's enemy of the week if that includes the opportunity to debate him on the issues Americans are actually concerned about. Remember when I said you don't need a title to make a difference?"

She continues. "This latest ad is quite odd but also quite telling. It shows that our president sure seems fearful of discussing the economy, energy prices and all the other problems people need addressed. And intended or not, now that his ad opens up the discussion of President Barack Obama's radical past associations and the radical philosophy that shaped his ideas about his promised fundamental transformation of our country, I welcome the media to join ordinary Americans in finally vetting Barack Obama. The media failed to do so in 2008, to the detriment of all us. Maybe this time around, they can do their job."

Washington Examiner chief political correspondent Byron York joins us. Byron, since you're down South, before we even get to this, I want to ask you what your thoughts are about this election night.

BYRON YORK, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Well, you just heard Bret Baier call Alabama for Rick Santorum, so that's a big, big victory for him. It's very, very tight in Mississippi. But if Santorum were to win both Alabama and Mississippi, has a strong argument for trying to get that one-on-one showdown with Mitt Romney that he's been trying to get for weeks now.

VAN SUSTEREN: Should he make a phone call to Speaker Gingrich? Speaker Gingrich says he's in it, that he's in it to the end and he expects to pick up a lot of delegates as the calendar goes forward.

YORK: You know, the speaker has changed his point of view, I think, on this race in recent weeks. He's not talking about winning enough delegates to defeat Mitt Romney. What he's saying is he's going to stay in the race, and he's been saying that to anybody who will listen. He's going to stay in the race and his goal is to prevent Mitt Romney from getting to that 1,144 delegate mark that he needs to clinch the nomination.

And then, the speaker says, if he can deny Romney that, then it'll be kind of a jump ball in the summer and there'll be this long discussion about who should be the nominee. So Gingrich's strategy has become completely about keeping Romney from getting that number.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, now to the latest Obama -- President Obama ad, with the target not being the current GOP candidates but the 2008 vice presidential candidate. Why?

YORK: Well, it is kind of a time warp. I think the Obama campaign is trying to capitalize a little bit on this television movie we saw on HBO over the weekend, "Game Change." It was a very negative portrayal of Sarah Palin. She's back in the news. She's been speaking out about that and other subjects.

And clearly, the message of the Obama message is, Sarah Palin's really bad, please send us money. This is a fund-raising tactic on the part of the president.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. But yes, that might be more effective, Please send us money, she's very bad, if that's his message. The problem is she's not running and she doesn't even seem to be very close to any of the candidates right now.

YORK: Well, it's true. George W. Bush is not running, either. And if you look at the kind of biographical movie the president has put together, the 17-minute mini-documentary, a lot of that is blaming the former president for the state of the economy.

So the point is not to run against the candidate, hasn't been chosen yet, for the Republican Party. The point is to kind of point at Republican bad guys like George W. Bush, Sarah Palin, and just kind of stir up the base.

Remember, the president is sending this to his supporters, the people who've given him money in the past, and asking them to please give more.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, but, you know, there's something peculiar, though, about trying to sort of -- to rev up your base, almost scare them about something that's not going to happen and -- and by doing that, you miss the opportunity to tell them about the things that you're proud of that you've accomplished because he does have a lot of things that he -- you know, he goes out around the country, he's very proud of, and his supporters are proud of.

YORK: Well, but I agree that that is the difference. And we've been talking for a long time about how the president will likely launch a very, very negative campaign against whoever his Republican rival is.

But the other part is to connect figures who are unpopular with independents, people like Sarah Palin, people like George W. Bush, people like Rush Limbaugh, try to connect them to today's Republican Party and suggest that Barack Obama is the only person who's standing between you and those bad people.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, let me look ahead a little bit with you. Next big primaries coming up, Illinois, Maryland and Wisconsin. And I asked Senator Santorum about those because, you know, people sort of predicted that he would do well in the South, but could he do well there. He pointed out that he won Minnesota. Are these states up for grabs or not?

YORK: Well, some of them certainly are. I mean, you can look at Wisconsin. I mean, you know, in Michigan, Santorum came fairly close in what was Mitt Romney's native state. In Ohio, he came darn close, in a state that was close to Pennsylvania, as well. But still, these big, industrial Midwestern states, Santorum has shown strength.

What's going to matter is what happens to Gingrich in the future -- future days. He says he's staying in. He's campaigning hard. He has a very full schedule. Do the voters continue to see him as a legitimate contender, or does he start falling back and we gradually see the emergence of this one-on-one showdown that Santorum has wanted for so long with Mitt Romney?

VAN SUSTEREN: Byron, this is a -- these two states, Mississippi, Alabama, are proportional states. So coming close, you're going to get almost as much delegates as the person who wins. Is this more sort of symbolic to win it or not?

YORK: Well, it is important to win. But Gingrich told me last night, he said, you know, Worst-case scenario, I'm going to come out of these states with one third of the delegates. And I hope I'll come out with more.

But he was right. He'll come out with close to a third of the delegates, which keeps him going forward, and it denies again more delegates to Mitt Romney. And I think Gingrich's campaign has become a completely negative exercise in making sure Mitt Romney doesn't get to the magic number.