This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," October 20, 2008. 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." Senator Obama has just announced he is leaving the campaign trail for two days beginning Thursday. Senator Obama is headed to Hawaii to be with his ailing grandmother. Senator Obama plans to attend an event in Indiana on Thursday morning, then fly directly to Hawaii. If all goes as planned, Senator Obama will return to the campaign trail on Saturday. In a statement, Senator Obama's campaign says his grandmother has become ill, and in the last few weeks, her health has deteriorated seriously. We're going to bring you all the very latest on this breaking news story as we get it.

And tonight: She could be your next first lady. Cindy McCain goes "On the Record." In a rare one-on-one interview, we take you on the campaign trail in Pennsylvania with Senator John McCain's wife. And Mrs. McCain tells you exactly what she thinks about a blistering New York Times article published about her over the weekend, an article called a vicious attack by Senator McCain's campaign.

We also ran into former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani today, and he is stunned by something Senator Biden said. Senator Biden says, if elected, President Obama will be tested by an international crisis within six months. Mayor Giuliani speaks out about that in a few moments.

But first, part one of your interview with Cindy McCain on the road and "On the Record" in Pennsylvania.


VAN SUSTEREN: Mrs. McCain, thank you for letting us come on your bus today.

CINDY MCCAIN, WIFE OF SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: Oh, thanks for being here. It's fun.

VAN SUSTEREN: We had a rather sobering experience inside the children's hospital.

MCCAIN: We visited one of two pieces of equipment that can help diagnose autism at its early stages. And it is sobering. It's a very sobering experience because autism is a disease that is more and more prevalent each day in the United States, and there's no cure yet. We don't know what's causing it and what it is, and families are afflicted every day with it.

VAN SUSTEREN: And I suppose Governor Palin certainly said at the Republican national convention that, you know, special needs children is...


VAN SUSTEREN: ... is something that, you know, is one of her passions.

MCCAIN: Yes. She's -- as you know, they are parents of a special needs child. And we're so proud of them because their family is just such a lovely family anyway, but this special needs child has brought so much to them also.

VAN SUSTEREN: In your travels -- and you've traveled around the world (INAUDIBLE) children. It seems to me that, you know, a lot more attention could be paid to these topics. I mean, I know that you've done that. But like I said, it was sobering for us to walk in there. You know, we race around from hit to hit or story to story, but then you walk in here.

MCCAIN: I just think it takes more people to create the awareness, obviously. And I mentioned to the family that was there that I had run into -- there's a family that my husband mentioned in his speech in the convention, and they were so -- they had such an impact on my husband, and that's -- you know, obviously, autism has been on his agenda for a while. But just their brief encounter with him and what they said and with their child was very important. And they, I think, not only inspired him but spurred him on to do more.

VAN SUSTEREN: What I loved is as we were leaving, Philip, a young man that -- a young boy that you were talking to, pointed out you missed something. He originated (ph) his Halloween costume. He wanted to make sure you knew about it.

MCCAIN: Exactly. I know. He's Indiana Jones for Halloween. I think that's wonderful.

VAN SUSTEREN: And should we out your son?

MCCAIN: Yes. We're going to have to out my son. My oldest son at the Naval Academy was Indiana Jones for a number of Halloweens. In fact, it didn't have to be Halloween for him to be in his Indiana Jones clothes.


VAN SUSTEREN: So if they're watching at the academy. They're going to find out.

MCCAIN: I know!

VAN SUSTEREN: He's finished now. He's absolutely finish.

MCCAIN: He's done with it now. He's put the costume away, I'm happy to say.


VAN SUSTEREN: I think that's probably a good idea. Campaigning fun for you?

MCCAIN: It's been fun, yes. It's -- you know, there are days, you know, obviously, where things are not so much fun. But you know, it's an amazing -- we're 15 days out. It's been amazing. Here we are, you know, possibly the next president and first lady of the United States. I mean, it's -- this has been a remarkable experience and something that I still, you know, occasionally have to pinch myself to realize that we're actually doing this. It's wonderful.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is there anything that's been a stunner to you in terms of going out and talking across the country (INAUDIBLE) you felt like, you know, you had no idea or, This is better or worse than I thought? Anything stun you?

MCCAIN: You know what has really stunned me is the -- quite honestly, is the kind of viciousness of the media on occasion. In 2000 -- there certainly's always been, you know, differences, and the -- you know, the things that occur. But this has taken on a different tenor. And I don't know why and what's caused that, and I'm sorry for it because I think it turns a lot of young people off.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you mentioned viciousness. Of course, you know, we've been talking for the last couple of days about the New York Times article...


VAN SUSTEREN: ... took a whack at you over the weekend. Do you pay attention to this stuff? Do you read this stuff?

MCCAIN: I did not read it, no. I did not read it, and I have no intention of reading it.

VAN SUSTEREN: But you know about it.

MCCAIN: Oh, yes, I'm aware of it. I'm aware of it. And I have -- I mean, my BlackBerry was loaded with friends the next morning saying, I cannot believe this, you know? I'm sorry for you and all this.

Look, this is politics today, unfortunately. I'm not -- it's -- I don't -- I'm not saying it's right. But it is politics today and it seems to be the nature of the beast now. All I can say is that my husband and I are doing the best we can. We are truly very proud to be here and proud to be a part of this process. And I don't really care what The New York Times thinks.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, we always sort of wonder, like, why do you all do this? I mean, it's, like, you know...


VAN SUSTEREN: ... If you think about it, you know, you're working around the clock, whether it's campaigning or on the job.

MCCAIN: Yes. Yes.

VAN SUSTEREN: All we do is try to find things to pick at you about, anything we can possibly unearth, that we can possibly put in the worst light possible. And this is on both sides of the aisle. I mean -- I mean, you know, it's -- I don't know if a lot of American people realize how hard the job is, whether you're a Republican or a Democrat.

MCCAIN: Well, you know, it -- yes, the job is hard, but let's put this in perspective also. We volunteered for this. And I'm just so delighted and proud of my husband because the more he does this and the more people see him, they see in him the same things I've seen in him for our entire married life. I mean, he is just a remarkable man and has given his entire life to service to his country. And I -- that's -- not many people can say that. And I'm just so proud of him and so proud that he is here and that he is my husband. And you know, really, this has just been a remarkable time.

VAN SUSTEREN: What do you say makes him different from any other candidate?

MCCAIN: Oh, gosh. Number one, like I said, he has always put his country first, and that's not -- those aren't just words. I mean, he -- this is a man who was sworn into the Navy at the age of 17, and has -- from that day forward has never put anything first except for his country. He's always thought about what was best for our -- for the people and for what - - you know, how he could best represent what they want.

I mean, he's such a deep person when it comes to how he makes decisions and how he puts his thought towards things because he has experience to back it up. I mean, you talk about a man who talks -- when he talks to the American people about the surge in Iraq and why we need more boots on the ground and some of the other issues that we're facing, that, the war and the two -- you know, Iraq and Afghanistan, and he does it with a deep-rooted experience in this. And so you have someone that was making decisions and is making decisions not, you know, without a great deal of the fiber of who he is in it.

VAN SUSTEREN: It's sort of curious because no matter what happens on Election Day, I mean, your life -- you know, it will be relatively the same. I mean, you've been successful. You're a woman of wealth. You've traveled around the world. You do your humanitarian projects. Your life - - you know, you can still do those things, and so -- and his life will change more substantively. Is there -- why does he want that, though? I mean...

MCCAIN: Because he wants what's best for the country. And he believes in everything this country stands for, and he does not want the American people to be represented in a fashion that, you know, he believes is not best for them. He believes in lower government, you know, lower taxes, less government. He believes in people having choices about schools and about small businesses not being taxed to the point that they can't survive.

It's about hope and it's about restoring our economy. It's not about blame or what -- you know, who did what. He just -- there's just so much. When people take a look at John, they -- I hope they see in him what I've seen in him, and this is someone who is so dedicated to what's best for the country. Words are hard to explain sometimes.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I assume you know that former secretary Powell endorsed Senator Obama yesterday. And he says that he's friends with your husband, Senator McCain, which I've -- I'll never fully understand this whole friendship in politics. They endorse each other and don't endorse each other and they're still friends or whatever. But does that sting?

MCCAIN: No. I'll tell you what. My husband -- we are friends. He's known him for a long, long time. But that's also the beauty of America. People can make choices and you're free to disagree and you're free to do - - you know, what we are doing is to make sure that your ability to freely choose (INAUDIBLE) continues. And so, you know, my husband has four other secretaries of state that have endorsed him and other cabinet representatives and people from all walks of life, and we're very proud of the people behind him.

VAN SUSTEREN: (INAUDIBLE) series of three debates with your husband.


VAN SUSTEREN: (INAUDIBLE) when you sit there, do you get nervous?



MCCAIN: Yes, I do. And I'm nervous because it's -- for me -- my husband is so good at what he does, but it's very pressure-packed for me because I just want him to do so well. He always does, but I just -- you know, it's the longest 90 minutes of my life, each of those debates.

VAN SUSTEREN: Are you sort of the typical wife who thinks, you know, My God, straighten your tie? Is it any of that?


MCCAIN: No, it's none of that. It's just -- you know, I just -- I -- you know, I just want him -- he always does great. And it's just I'm just nervous for him because -- you know, I'm nervous for him, nervous with him. He's always so calm. I'm the one that's a wreck.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, I always think it's harder for the spouse when a husband gets or a wife gets slapped around. Do you think it's harder for you than for him?

MCCAIN: When people pick on him, yes. I mean, it -- yes. I don't like it when people pick on him and say things that aren't true or that are -- you know, I'm his wife, and I'm, you know -- so of course it hurts me. It does. And sometimes I can't say anything.

VAN SUSTEREN: When you first met him, did you like him ?

MCCAIN: Yes, I did.

VAN SUSTEREN: What was it that?

MCCAIN: His humor, his tenaciousness. He's so well read. I mean, we had the most interesting discussion the first night we met.

VAN SUSTEREN: About? Now you've got to tell me!

MCCAIN: It was about -- really, it was about -- I sat down with him and I didn't -- I didn't really -- he invited me for a drink, and I didn't really know who he was. I didn't -- I had -- I didn't know anything about him. And all of a sudden, I was talking to this marvelous man. We were discussing the books we had read and the -- you know, where we'd traveled and kind of the depths of each other. It was wonderful. And he's very funny. And it was just so different from anybody I'd ever met. So it was lovely.


VAN SUSTEREN: Coming up, more with Mrs. McCain. Why does Mrs. McCain say Governor Palin takes it on the chin? Is Governor Palin the victim of sexism? Mrs. McCain will tell you.


Watch Greta's interview with Mrs. McCain: Part 1 | Part 2

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, ready for more? Well, let's get on the bus. Here's Mrs. McCain on her husband's musical taste.


MCCAIN: He listens to actually all kinds of music. I mean, his -- he loves country western, and of course, he loves -- people tease him about Abba. He has enjoyed Abba. I mean, that's nothing. But he likes a lot of different stuff. I mean, he's really big on older musical stuff, you know, like Louis Armstrong. He loves to have Louis Armstrong. And he likes the newer stuff, too. I mean, he's just -- he doesn't -- to be honest with you, he doesn't get that much time to listen to music.

VAN SUSTEREN: Does he, like, have an iPod or anything?

MCCAIN: Yes, he has an iPod. I loaded it for him.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you have one, too?


VAN SUSTEREN: What's on yours?

MCCAIN: Oh, my gosh. I change it from week to week, actually, when I get to -- my iPod has movies and music on it. So right now, I've got a bunch of surf music on it, believe it or not, and I have a lot of movies, too, so...

VAN SUSTEREN: Like what?

MCCAIN: And I have TV shows, too. So right now, I have the first three seasons of "X-Files" on my iPod! I love "The X-Files."

VAN SUSTEREN: Governor Palin -- when was the first time you got sort of an inkling that your husband was thinking that maybe she would...

MCCAIN: A while ago.

VAN SUSTEREN: Like, how far, about?

MCCAIN: Well, we -- you know, we had met her earlier in the year. And this is after the -- the -- you know, we'd gotten the -- or not the nomination, gotten the amount of votes that we needed before the convention. And wet met her and -- of course, John knew about her, but we met her at the governors conference in Washington and -- both she and her husband. And we were both just blown away by her. I mean, she was just amazing. And she was such a perfect fit for John. I mean, it was just -- as soon as I met her, and then John mentioned -- we talked in the car going home that night, I knew. I thought, Oh, I bet he does that. I bet he picks her. She was just perfect.

VAN SUSTEREN: Have you been able to spend time with her? I know that you're busy all the time and she's...


VAN SUSTEREN: What -- what's it like?

MCCAIN: Yes. They're a lot of fun. They're very normal, all- American family. I mean, they've got a gaggle of kids running around, and you know, everyone's -- it's just -- it's fun. It reminds me of when my kids were young and our family was all at home. It was great. I don't mind any -- and they're all running around. Everyone's in everybody's business. And you know, everything. It's wonderful. It's great.

VAN SUSTEREN: She's gotten hit pretty hard by critics.

MCCAIN: Yes. I think if she were a man wearing a suit, they wouldn't have hit her as hard. I think it's been -- I think it's been extremely unfair. Now, mind you, she has taken it on the chin and she's as lovely and as eloquent as anybody I've ever seen with regards to this. But for those of us who had to sit back and watch it -- I think that if she were a man instead of a woman, they wouldn't have picked on her this way.

VAN SUSTEREN: I imagine it's hardest for her husband, Todd, being the spouse.

MCCAIN: I'm sure it is. Todd has not said anything to me about it, other than I do know he's been (INAUDIBLE). But that's -- you know, that's -- the only piece of advice I could give him was, you know, This will be over soon and you won't have to listen to this, like this anyway.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it may get cranked up worse.

MCCAIN: Exactly. Exactly. But I mean, he -- I know how he feels because you really can't say much. And it's hard.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you think Senator Clinton got hit harder because she's a woman?

MCCAIN: I think in some cases, yes. I do. I really do. Some of the questions and some of the things that were said would not have been asked of her if she were a man. And I just -- I found it -- I was actually blown away by the fact that they were asking -- doing the kinds of things that (INAUDIBLE) "Doonesbury" cartoon, for instance -- I mean, here they have depicted her (INAUDIBLE) she is the vice presidential nominee, and they're depicting her in a swimming suit. I mean, you know, if she were a man, it wouldn't happen.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, I always think it's sort of curious, especially when women do it, you know, when women are the ones who might take a whack at a woman. And then I'm also then equally curious when a guy does because a guy usually has a wife, a sister, a mother.

MCCAIN: Exactly.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know -- you know...

MCCAIN: Exactly.

VAN SUSTEREN: And maybe it's -- I mean, I think -- I think women get hit harder.

MCCAIN: I do. I absolutely do. And I -- and I'm not -- you know, that's not been my issue or my -- you know, what I'm here about, either. But I just think -- I think in her case, it's been extremely overdone.


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