OTR Interviews

Palin:Obama's absence in Wisconsin shows president's 'goose is cooked' in November

Former Alaska governor on the significance of the Badger State's recall election


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," June 5, 2012. 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." Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is keeping his job! The people in this state have spoken. Governor Scott Walker was with his recall battle so far, with 26 percent of the precincts reporting, Governor Walker has 60 percent of the vote and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has 40 percent.

Now, this race has also been called for Lieutenant Governor Kleefisch. She just defeated Mahlon Mitchell 59 percent to 41 percent.

So what does this mean for the state of Wisconsin? What does it mean for President Obama? Is this just a local race and just about Governor Walker and the recall, or does it show that union power is diminishing or that Wisconsin is turning red?

It has been an intense and unpredictable couple of weeks and days and finishing with a local -- with a win for Governor Walker. Now, the battle began when Governor Walker proposed a law stripping public unions, but not police and firefighters, of their collective bargaining rights.

You cannot forget those boisterous, passionate protests in the Wisconsin state Capitol in Madison. And now it's here, and we are live in Waukesha, Wisconsin, at Governor Walker's campaign headquarters. We are also live in Milwaukee at Mayor Barrett's campaign headquarters.

Now, we have a jam-packed show for you tonight, so don't go away. RNC chair Reince Priebus, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal, Wisconsin state assembly minority leader Peter Barca.

But first, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin. Good evening, Governor.


VAN SUSTEREN: I'm very well. And it's been a cliffhanger all day. Nobody knew today whether it was going to be Mayor Barrett or the new governor or Governor Walker was going to retain his seat.

So your thoughts on tonight's news that Governor Walker is the winner?

PALIN: It is such good and encouraging news, Greta. It's good for the entire country because people are going to recognize through Governor Walker's efforts that austerity measures, responsible austerity measures of reining in government growth really will help our nation as a whole with the economic woes that we face.

This is positive news. And I think that Wisconsin is living up to its state motto, that providential motto of forward. They're moving forward. They're going to help lead the charge for the rest of the country, reining in government growth, allowing the private sector to be the ones to create jobs.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, so tonight, Governor Walker celebrates. Tomorrow, though, he goes back to representing all the people in Wisconsin, including all those union members, all those Democrats who campaigned very fiercely against him and for their candidate.

So tell me, you've been in this -- you've been in the chair. Tell me, what does Governor Walker do tomorrow to begin to sort of reconcile or heal those deep wounds? They're very deep in this state.

PALIN: He keeps on keeping on. He keeps showing through facts, through stats, through the numbers that they don't lie, that removing deficit spending and allowing the deficit to turn into a surplus, allowing the government to rein itself in via legislative and policy measures so that the private sector can grow. Those numbers don't lie. And he needs to reminding the public of that.

He also maybe -- maybe not him, but somebody could encourage our good union brothers and sisters there in Wisconsin -- and I say it as a former IBEW sister and my husband as a steelworker and IBEW brother -- that maybe it's the union leadership there, those thugs who wanted to deceive their members into believing that growing government was the answer.

Well, perhaps it's those union leaders that need to be recalled and replaced with those who understand what perhaps a union role could be in state government, not a selfish role, not a role that allows government to continue to grow and create an insolvent situation for a state.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, it's interesting. We've spoken to him before the -- you know, last year during the protests, and we've spoken to the governor a number of times since. And I asked him, you know, what he would have done differently. And while he doesn't -- he doesn't back off his policies, he says that he wished he had been perhaps better communicating his message so that there would not be this deep divide.

Is that -- is -- do you agree that there's a better way or that he could have delivered his message better so that perhaps he could have avoided maybe this recall vote?

PALIN: I think that everything that Wisconsin has gone through in the last couple of years, Greta, with the lawmakers skipping town, not doing their job and hiding out in another state, the Democrats, because they didn't want to face what Governor Walker was proposing, the supreme court make-up being proposed to change with Prosser's election there, and now with this recall election -- I think Wisconsin voters are sick and tired of the division that's been caused by the radical left, again, saying that it's big government growth that's going to be the answer to economic challenges.

And I think that the people there will come together and they'll continue now to lead the country in these measures that are just common sense. It's economics 101. You know, you live within your means. You're fiscally responsible. And that's how you will become economically successful in a state, in a business, in our nation.

I think, naturally, this unity is going to happen under this good governor and lieutenant governor's watch.

VAN SUSTEREN: I can hear the crowd roaring, and I can see it on the screen. I can also hear it behind me because we're right outside his headquarters, very happy Governor Walker supporters here in Waukesha.

Governor, it's sort of interesting. In 2008, President Obama won by 14 points in this state, a very decisive victory, which you know better than anybody else, having been part of the ticket. I'm curious, though, whether or not the Democrats here are a little bit bitter that President Obama didn't help Mayor Barrett here. He had a chance last week when he was in Minneapolis doing three fund-raisers. He flew over Wisconsin to Illinois to do three fund-raisers.

There were many months leading up until now he was a no-show. He's actually -- he's shown very little interest in this race, or perhaps he thought that it was such a hot potato that he didn't want to be connected to t. And I'm curious what you think the Democrats are thinking about the president's no-show.

PALIN: I think that the Democrats there understand that the president's no-show represents the fact that Obama's goose is cooked as more and more Americans realize that what Wisconsin has just manifested via this vote, embracing austerity and fiscal responsibility, is the complete opposite of what President Obama and the White House represents today.

They want to grow government. They want to take more away from the private sector. They want to quash that entrepreneurial spirit and resource development opportunities from America, so that a centralized, growing government will take the private sector's place.

Well, Wisconsin wasn't going to put up with that. The rest of the nation won't put up with that. So Obama did have to distance himself from the solutions that Walker and Kleefisch and their administration represented. He had to stay away.

VAN SUSTEREN: And I should notify the viewers we're standing by, waiting for Governor Walker. He'll be out soon. He's inside the building, obviously, very happy with the news that broke just a short time ago that he has won this election. So we're going to stand by and take his speech as soon as he hits the podium.

Governor, one thing that did happen in this state, though, is President Obama didn't appear here, but President Bill Clinton did, still a big favorite among Democrats. He was here trying to -- he was campaigning for the mayor on Friday.

Did his presence here show up President Obama? Or do you think President Obama sent him and the Democrats understand that this is politics and it probably wouldn't be good for the president to be connected to a losing race?

PALIN: You know what I think what a lot of us took away from President Clinton's message there was, again, that fiscal responsibility and some austerity measures are the solution. President Clinton reminded people that he, with the help of at the time Speaker Gingrich, and their efforts to rein in government growth and balance the budget -- some austerity measures -- that that allowed deficit spending to be reined in on a national level.

So President Clinton recognized what the solutions are. And he had a very diplomatic, kind of crafty, nice way of telling the public that what he and Speaker Gingrich and the Republican majority in Congress did in those years that he was president was actually helpful for the nation's economy, versus what -- what the recall activists were trying to prove in this Wisconsin recall effort.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, it always seems when something happens that it's the message that's going to last forever. But November is actually six months off, or five months. You do the math. And a lot can happen. Sort of hard to tell whether this is just a burst of energy for the Republican Party here in this state and Governor Walker, or whether it'll be long-standing up until November.

But lingering between now and November is the Supreme Court decision on health care. It's going to go one of two ways, either the president's way or not his way. And so if you have a reflection, if the president loses health care in the Supreme Court and has this to deal with, what does that mean? And if the president wins health care, and yet he loses tonight?

PALIN: I believe that the president will lose the health care battle in the Supreme Court. And obviously, he and his message, his mission, has lost here in Wisconsin, which is kind of a microcosm of the rest of America. So things aren't looking real good for President Obama.

But Greta, I think it's important that not just hard-core Republicans but good Blue Dog Democrats, Reagan Democrats, independents understand that, really, on that federal level, when it comes to that presidential election, we really just need to apply common sense, not allow partisanship to get in the way of just electing people who will do what's right for the people and who understand what America's foundation is all about, and that is about reward for work ethic and resource development. It is about the private sector's growth and electing someone who represents that.

Obviously, President Obama doesn't represent that. He represents the complete opposite of that. And the numbers don't lie. His joblessness numbers represent that. People on food stamps, the numbers there represent that. The debt that's growing $4 billion a day under Obama represents that.

So the presidential election, just hopefully, being a reflection of the people's acknowledgement that we need to apply common sense, fiscal responsibility, austerity, living within our means -- that's going to get the economy back on the right track. President Obama does not represent that.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I always think that the trend is important. I mean, the president inherited a very bad economy, but what's the trend? And I think it's very painful to the Obama administration, and of course, moreso to the American people that the unemployment level went up -- it ticked up a tenth of a percent last month. Only 69,000 jobs were created. Manufacturing numbers indicate that it's getting sluggish. New home sales are sluggish. I think that's an enormous problem for the president.

But even more importantly, I saw a number tonight that the Latino unemployment rate is at 11 percent. Now, that's way above the 8.2 percent national. And the Latino vote is supposedly such an important part of the vote this November, an influential bloc. And I think that's sort of the hidden -- the hidden factor in this, is that Latino vote. And that 11 percent -- that's got to -- that's got to hurt the president politically.

PALIN: Yes, but I am one to believe that red and yellow, black and white, every American's precious and should be in the president's sight. Doesn't really matter, race or demographic represented in what these polls are showing.

I think the general consensus is President Obama has us on the wrong track. The numbers don't lie. As you are suggesting, the trend continues that is putting our economy in the hole. And there's no plan to dig us out of the hole via Obama's administration.

We still don't have a budget three years later. He's not leading us to even have a federal budget that -- you know, he is immoral. It's unethical. It violates the Constitution.

And no, I think people are going to say, OK, enough is enough of this hope-y change-y stuff that was nebulous, it was fake, it was hypocritical, and we're ready to go in a different direction with a new leader of America.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I've been around the block and always surprised, you know, how things turn out. A lot can happen between now and November with that trend. Right now, it doesn't look good for the president in terms of the trend itself, but it's six -- you know, it's five or six months off from now. And I don't know what the trend is going to be.

But I think tonight, the Republicans, you know, have the wind behind their back with -- at least here in this state. And you know, we're going to hear from Governor Walker in just a few seconds. I'm curious, what -- what do you -- what should Governor Walker say when he comes out tonight?

PALIN: Well, it's not just Republican who have the wind to their back. It's America as a whole. And the eyes of America have been on Wisconsin and looking to see if Governor Walker would keep that resolve, keep that the steel spine and recognizing that as his spine stiffens, the rest of us then feel empowered, other governors across the nation so empowered and emboldened to do the right thing for the people that they're serving.

So if Governor Walker tonight just acknowledges that, that, you know, it is the people who recognize and acted on that recognition of the fiscal responsibility that they deserve, taxpayers deserve, and he just was one to help administer what the people's will has been, it will be a humble, gracious, very appreciated message.

VAN SUSTEREN: In terms of the governor, last night I asked him -- he was on with us here in Wisconsin. And I asked him -- there was -- there was -- I had seen an article where it suggested his name as perhaps to be on the ticket with Governor Romney. And he said, No, no, no. It's my good friend, Paul Ryan, the congressman from the state here. He'd be a better choice. But this does -- I mean, this win tonight makes him a little bit, at least for the moment, a bigger influence in the party nationally. Do you agree?

PALIN: I agree, Greta. I think anybody who's there in the arena duking out in that -- you know, in that platform of ideas and solutions that work -- and obviously, Governor Walker's solutions -- they're working. The numbers show that he's turned a deficit into a surplus, that the unemployment rate has gone down in his state. The private sector's actually being able to create jobs as he's reined in, and cuts in government spending. Those are solutions that would do well on any national ticket.

VAN SUSTEREN: Any sort of feeling -- any sort of feeling in your heart a little bit sadness tonight or at least empathy for Mayor Barrett? I mean, he campaigned his heart and soul out here, and so did his supporters. I mean, it's always disappointing to lose.

PALIN: No, not an ounce of sympathy or empathy for someone who was trying to fool the public into believing that growing government is the answer to any of the economic challenges in a city, in a state or in our nation. No. He -- the people spoke, and this is good news for all of America.

VAN SUSTEREN: So tomorrow starts a new day here in Wisconsin, at least until the next election. And it'll be absolutely fascinating to see whether or not Governor Walker can try to unite these two sides, talk to them because as I said -- as I noted earlier, Governor, boy, I tell you, these people here are divided. This is not just a race for people who are ambivalent. This is a very strong, passionate views on each side. And I just don't know how he's going to do it.

PALIN: Well, sure. You know, on Wisconsin. Forward is their theme. And they will move forward, and I think that, naturally, they will unite when more of the numbers show that Walker's austerity measures actually work for the people, for the taxpayers.

What you'll see coming from the White House in these ensuing days, though, will be a diminishment of tonight's election results. You know, the White House, Jay Carney -- can't wait to see how he spins all this and ignores it, and President Obama himself. They're going to really try to distance themselves from this, despite the fact that they, leading their lapdogs in the leftist media, made this a front-page story for how many months? Months and months, all we heard about was Wisconsin's recall effort, and you know, the Democrat state lawmakers hiding out in another state and changing the supreme court and all that.

Well, because fiscal conservatives won on all those issues, this is kind of the culmination of the victory for fiscal conservatives, and from henceforth, you're going to see Obama and the White House distance themselves.

VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, I'm curious -- one last quick question is that, you know, I guess we don't know -- the numbers are just being counted right now. The race has been called for Governor Walker, but it could be a really close race in the end or it could be a blowout. We don't know.

But if this is a close race and mirrors 2010, does it really -- does it really mean much, if it's the same thing that got him elected two years ago?

PALIN: No, it does mean much. What you can read into, if it does turn out to be a close election, Greta, is that there is power in those special interests, in all those tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer money that went into this recall effort, of union dues that really were wasted.

So union brothers and sisters, take it out on your union leadership and recall them. Get some responsible leadership in there.

What it tells you is that money does buy a lot of influence. And I think that will be what you can attribute a close race to. But I don't think, at the end of the night here, we're going to see it be that close.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, we'll see. Votes are still being counted in the great state of Wisconsin. Governor, thank you very much for joining us.

PALIN: Right on. Thanks, Greta. Have a good night.