Published January 14, 2015
This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," February 16, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Tonight, a special guest in his first TV appearance ever. Well, he's less than 2 months old. It's Tripp, also known as the "first grandson" of Alaska's governor, Sarah Palin. Tonight he goes "On the Record," and he has brought along his mother, Bristol, and Bristol's mother, Alaska's governor, Sarah Palin. They all go "On the Record."
And what year it has been for this family. Governor Palin grabbed headlines in the lower 48 when she was chosen to be Senator John McCain's running mate. Just days later, the headlines kept coming, Governor Palin announcing her then-17-year-old unmarried daughter, Bristol, was pregnant. Since that announcement, the now 18-year-old engaged young mother has remained out of the spotlight -- until right now.
Over the weekend, we went to Alaska to spend time with the Palin family. And tonight, you meet Bristol, who has a message to other teens her age. And you'll hear from Governor Palin, who surprised us during the interview. You will not see this anywhere else.
VAN SUSTEREN: Bristol, thank you for sitting down and talking with us.
BRISTOL PALIN, SARAH PALIN'S DAUGHTER: Thanks for letting me be here.
VAN SUSTEREN: Your life has changed rather significantly. Actually, starting last August was a big event in your family's life, and now you're a new mother.
BRISTOL: Yes. It was chaotic in August, but I'm excited to be a mom.
VAN SUSTEREN: When was your son born?
BRISTOL: He was born December 27.
VAN SUSTEREN: How is he?
BRISTOL: He is awesome. He's very, very, very cute.
VAN SUSTEREN: Are you getting any sleep?
BRISTOL: No. I'm exhausted!
VAN SUSTEREN: You're exhausted.
VAN SUSTEREN: What's the night like? What -- tell me about the sleep.
BRISTOL: Well, it just varies every night, I guess. But he's up pretty much about half of the night, I guess.
VAN SUSTEREN: That is a switch.
BRISTOL: Yes. It's a lot different than just sleeping all night.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is this what you expected?
BRISTOL: I don't know if it's what I expected, but -- it's just a lot different.
VAN SUSTEREN: You had no hint of this, sort of the demands of being a new mother.
BRISTOL: Well, it's not just the baby that's hard. It's just, like, I'm not living for myself anymore. It's, like, for another person, so it's different.
VAN SUSTEREN: If you and I were talking a year ago and I said, What do you think's going to happen in your life, what do you think you would have told me?
BRISTOL: I honestly have no idea because I never would have thought I would have been a mom and I never would have thought my mom was going to be chosen for vice president.
VAN SUSTEREN: So this was, obviously, a huge, unexpected event.
BRISTOL: Yes. Definitely.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is it good?
BRISTOL: Yes, it is. Very good. I like being a mom. I love it.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why?
BRISTOL: Just, like, seeing him smile and stuff. It just -- it's awesome.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, you're young.
BRISTOL: Very young, yes.
VAN SUSTEREN: And so some people think it's -- you know, that for a young person, it's particularly challenging.
BRISTOL: It is very challenging, but it's so rewarding.
VAN SUSTEREN: Take me back to a year ago, when you first discovered you were going to be a mother. You -- I imagine you had to tell your parents.
BRISTOL: Yes, which was, like, harder than labor.
VAN SUSTEREN: OK, where -- when did you tell them?
BRISTOL: Well, we were sitting on the couch, my best friend and Levi, and we had my parents come and sit on the couch, too. And we had my sisters go upstairs. And we just sat them down, and I just -- I couldn't even say it. I was just sick to my stomach. And so finally, my best friend just, like, blurted it out. And it was just, like -- I don't even remember it because it was just, like, something I don't want to remember.
VAN SUSTEREN: Levi was there, as well?
VAN SUSTEREN: What was the reaction of your mother and your father?
BRISTOL: They were scared just because I have to -- I had to grow up a lot faster than they ever would have imagined.
VAN SUSTEREN: In my family, telling my mother things would draw a different reaction than telling my father things -- draw a different reaction. Did they react the same way?
BRISTOL: Yes, they did. They were just -- I had a lot of growing up to do.
VAN SUSTEREN: And I imagine they had some guidance for you, or some thought.
BRISTOL: Yes, they just wanted us to sit down and make a game plan, like, what we were going to do and stuff.
VAN SUSTEREN: Had you told Levi's family?
BRISTOL: No, not yet.
VAN SUSTEREN: When did that come about?
BRISTOL: That came about probably, like, the following day.
VAN SUSTEREN: And how did that go over?
BRISTOL: Well, his mom was -- she was scared for us, too. Just we needed to sit down and make a game plan. But she was excited. We were all excited for the baby, of course.
VAN SUSTEREN: I take it this wasn't planned.
BRISTOL: No, not all.
VAN SUSTEREN: Any sort of -- I mean -- and I realize, you know, what joy a child brings to a family. But was there any sort of thinking that maybe -- did you have any sort of sense about, I wish that maybe this would happen a year or two from now, rather than now?
BRISTOL: Yes. Of course. I wished it would have happened in, like, 10 years so I could have a job and an education and be, like, prepared and have my own house and stuff. But he brings so much joy, I don't regret it at all. I just wish it would have happened in 10 years, rather than right now.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, it always is sort of a difficult thing, you know, when it's a question of youth, and no one ever really knows what to say to a young person in your situation.
BRISTOL: Yes. I don't know. I just -- I hope that people learn from my story and just, like, I don't know, prevent teen pregnancy, I guess.
VAN SUSTEREN: What happened at school?
BRISTOL: I was -- it was during summer and school had just gotten out, so I just knew that I had to finish up high school and focus on getting an education.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know -- you know, we all learned about it in August or so, after -- and the media, I guess, dogged you a little bit.
VAN SUSTEREN: What was your reaction to that?
BRISTOL: I mostly just didn't pay attention to it because my family's strong and it doesn't matter what the -- like, what tabloids say or anything like that.
VAN SUSTEREN: Did you read any of the tabloids?
BRISTOL: I've seen some of them, and I think people out there are just evil because they don't know what was going on at all.
VAN SUSTEREN: What didn't anybody get? What didn't people understand?
BRISTOL: That -- there's a lot of things. They thought that, like, my mom was going to make me have the baby, and it was my choice to have the baby. And it's just -- that kind of stuff just bothered me.
VAN SUSTEREN: And in terms of your mother making you have the baby, I mean, the whole issue of, I guess, the right -- the right to life and choice and things like that.
BRISTOL: Yes. Yes.
VAN SUSTEREN: But this is your issue. This is your decision.
BRISTOL: Yes. And would have -- doesn't matter what my mom's views are on it. It was my decision, and I wish people would realize that, too.
VAN SUSTEREN: So throughout the fall, for the campaign, was it difficult for you in any particular way because you were having a child or not?
BRISTOL: Not really, I don't think.
VAN SUSTEREN: What about Levi? How is taking all this?
BRISTOL: Well, he's a really hands-on dad. He's just in love with him as much as I am.
VAN SUSTEREN: Does he -- how often does he see his son?
BRISTOL: He sees him every day.
VAN SUSTEREN: What are your plans?
BRISTOL: Eventually, we'd like to get married. We're focusing on, like, getting through school and just getting an education and stuff, getting a career going.
VAN SUSTEREN: It's tough -- I mean, it's, like, you get -- I mean, it's tough to do the school, do the planning. You're a new mother. You know, I can't imagine, you know, sort of the overwhelming nature of it right now.
BRISTOL: Yes, it's very overwhelming.
VAN SUSTEREN: What -- what's your mother's role now with the child? Does she -- I mean, do you take care of the child? Does your mother? I mean, who's really handling this right now?
BRISTOL: Well, I take care of him all the time. The only time I don't take care of him is when I'm at school. But my mom and my whole family -- I just am so blessed to have them because they help out a lot, more than I would have ever imagined, I guess.
VAN SUSTEREN: Who's helping out, your mother, your sisters?
BRISTOL: Yes, my dad and my aunts and my grandma, especially my grandma.
VAN SUSTEREN: Which grandmother?
BRISTOL: My grandma's my mom mom -- my mom's mom.
VAN SUSTEREN: And your grandparents on your father's side, they spent winters away from Alaska?
BRISTOL: Yes. Yes.
VAN SUSTEREN: But they're actually here now for the race, right?
BRISTOL: Yes. So they just got to see my son for the first time.
VAN SUSTEREN: What -- how's Piper with the baby?
BRISTOL: Piper's really good with him. She helps out a lot.
VAN SUSTEREN: In what way?
BRISTOL: She's grabbing diapers and making bottles. She just helps out a lot.
VAN SUSTEREN: And your mother do the same thing?
VAN SUSTEREN: Is this, like, everybody grabs diapers and gets bottles?
BRISTOL: Yes. I think I'm -- that's, like, the -- I'm blessed with a huge family that just everyone helps out.
VAN SUSTEREN: Have any idea how to raise a child?
BRISTOL: Yes because I've been baby-sitting my whole life, so it's not just the baby part of it that's hard. It's just realizing that I'm not living for myself anymore, I'm living for another human being.
VAN SUSTEREN: What does he do now?
BRISTOL: He smiles and giggles and coos.
VAN SUSTEREN: And when you walk into the room, he sees you, he gives you a big grin?
BRISTOL: Yes, if he's not tired or grumpy.
VAN SUSTEREN: And do you get tired and grumpy?
BRISTOL: Oh, yes, I do!
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you ever feel like, This is just too much for me, or not?
BRISTOL: There's been times that I've thought that, but -- it's just -- it's a load of work, but I'm just thankful that he's healthy and he's happy.
VAN SUSTEREN: When you say there's a lot of work, is it just that it's just every couple hours, and it's, like, you've always got to be feeding and watching the child?
VAN SUSTEREN: Is that what you mean by the work?
BRISTOL: Yes. And just you're up all night. And it's not glamorous at all. Like, your whole priorities change after having a baby.
VAN SUSTEREN: Teen pregnancy -- what's your thought on that?
BRISTOL: I think everyone should just wait 10 years.
VAN SUSTEREN: That's just -- why?
BRISTOL: Just because it's so much easier if you're married and if you have a house and a career and -- it's just so much easier.
VAN SUSTEREN: What do your parents say about teen pregnancy?
BRISTOL: It's not something to strive for, I guess. It's just -- I don't know. I'm not the first person that it's happened to and I'm not going to be the last. But I don't know. I'd love for -- to be an advocate to prevent teen pregnancy because it's not, like, a situation that you want to strive for, I guess.
VAN SUSTEREN: Your parents know you're doing this interview. You're 18, so you make your own decisions, but do they know?
BRISTOL: I told my mom yesterday, so...
VAN SUSTEREN: That was good timing, yesterday.
VAN SUSTEREN: You don't give them much notice, do you, advance notice.
VAN SUSTEREN: So you spring it on her yesterday that you're going to do this interview and that it -- it involves the changes in your life, issues about teen pregnancy, and it's just -- she's not surprised that you did this.
VAN SUSTEREN: You all seem to be sort of independent in your family.
BRISTOL: Yes, we are very independent.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. So today is the big day of the race.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you know what -- how your father's doing? Have you been following it?
BRISTOL: He's in sixth place right now.
VAN SUSTEREN: Levi here?
BRISTOL: No, he's not. He's working.
VAN SUSTEREN: What's he doing now?
BRISTOL: He's helping his dad out and finishing up his schooling.
VAN SUSTEREN: Does he have any sort of -- does he feel the same way you feel about teen pregnancy and have some sort of -- Well, maybe a good idea to wait usually, unless things happen?
BRISTOL: Yes. He feels the same way I do. We both just -- kids should just wait. It's -- I don't know. It's not glamorous at all.
VAN SUSTEREN: I don't want to pry to personally, but I mean, actually, contraception is an issue here. Is that something that you were just lazy about or not interested, or do you have a philosophical or religious opposition to it or...
BRISTOL: No. I don't want to get into detail about that. But I think abstinence is, like -- like, the -- I don't know how to put it -- like, the main -- everyone should be abstinent or whatever, but it's not realistic at all.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why?
BRISTOL: Because -- I don't want to get into details on this.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, no, I don't mean personally, just big picture, not -- not necessarily about you, but...
BRISTOL: Because it's more and more accepted now.
VAN SUSTEREN: Among your classmates and kids your age?
BRISTOL: Among -- yes, among kids my age.
VAN SUSTEREN: How do you change that?
BRISTOL: To see stories like this and to see other stories of teen moms and just -- it's something that's -- I don't know, just -- you should just wait 10 years and it'd just be so much easier.
VAN SUSTEREN: Up next, more with Bristol Palin with two special guests, her baby, Tripp, and Governor Palin surprised us. Now, this is the first time you have ever seen all of them together for an interview.
VAN SUSTEREN: You just met Governor Sarah Palin's daughter, Bristol. Now for the first time ever, you are about to meet Bristol's baby, Tripp, with his grandmother, the governor of Alaska. Now, teenage pregnancy has been hard, but also rewarding for Bristol. She's also growing up fast, very fast.
VAN SUSTEREN: When you meet your child and you see how much excitement (INAUDIBLE) like, you know, you -- yours is -- you know, that child brings much joy to you, brings joy to your family.
BRISTOL: Yes, he does.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, some stories aren't so, you know, lucky, and I realize that. So in some ways, people might think that it -- you know, that that's a good story.
BRISTOL: Well, I'm just blessed to have a huge family that helps out, and I think that's, like, the main thing that I have.
VAN SUSTEREN: And speaking of the joy, here it is.
GOV. SARAH PALIN (R-AK), FORMER VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Do you want this joy?
VAN SUSTEREN: It is the grandmother. I was expecting a different grandmother, though. I was expecting...
SARAH PALIN: She's out in the hallway. I've got the -- I've got the (INAUDIBLE) here.
VAN SUSTEREN: Oh, look at him!
BRISTOL: I know. He's getting huge.
VAN SUSTEREN: He is getting huge?
BRISTOL: He's getting huge. Hello, handsome!
VAN SUSTEREN: Hello, Governor.
SARAH PALIN: How are you?
VAN SUSTEREN: Nice to see you, Governor.
SARAH PALIN: ... You're up here.
VAN SUSTEREN: I wasn't expecting you.
SARAH PALIN: We were down on the river, had to come up just for a second, wanted to say hi and we'll run you down to the river. And I think some of your folks are going to meet us down there, too.
VAN SUSTEREN: OK. We weren't expecting you because Bristol -- she told me that she had just sort of sprung the interview on you.
SARAH PALIN: Yes!
VAN SUSTEREN: And this is her idea about -- talking about the big picture of teen pregnancy.
SARAH PALIN: Yes. Yes. And I'm proud of her, too, wanting to take on an advocacy role and, you know, just let other girls know that this is - - it's not the most ideal situation, but certainly, make the most of it. And Bristol is a strong and bold young woman and she is an amazing mom. And this little baby is very lucky to have her as a mama. He's going to be just fine. We're very proud of Bristol.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you know, but it's -- I mean, you look at this, and it's joy in this family. You know, and some families aren't...
SARAH PALIN: Oh, yes.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, some families don't have the broad family support. I mean, she's got the brothers and the sisters and the parents and the grandparents.
SARAH PALIN: We have five (ph) generations helping right now. And Bristol -- maybe she got to talk to you a little bit about that, that we have a very large network of family, so a lot of support. And Bristol's in -- maybe she's a bit of an anomaly in this situation, in that she has a lot of support. She has it perhaps easier, if you will, than other young mothers. But many, many, many young parents have been successful in raising their children and have raised healthy, happy, contributing members of our society.
Bristol will -- and Levi -- they will be parents like that. We're real proud of them.
VAN SUSTEREN: Nonetheless, a surprise to you and the "first dude."
SARAH PALIN: Yes! Yes!
VAN SUSTEREN: You're grandparents at an early -- at a young age yourselves.
SARAH PALIN: I'm still getting used to having a -- you know, my last child, Trig, much less that, you know, knowing that we would have another little bundle of joy in our midst. So yes, it was a surprise. It was a shock.
VAN SUSTEREN: Did you give her hell or were you -- at first? I mean, what...
SARAH PALIN: Yes, I kind of did. I mean, I was...
BRISTOL: We were all surprised.
SARAH PALIN: We were all surprised. Let me put it this way. And this is -- I think Bristol's kind of an example of, truly, it can happen to anybody. Bristol, great athlete, great student, great aspirations that she had for herself, plans that didn't include a baby, of course, but it did happen to her and now again, less than ideal circumstances, but we make the most of it. She, I think, of all of her friends even, can handle it perhaps better than some of for friends would have handled it. But still an absolute shock that it happened.
VAN SUSTEREN: Isn't sort of the bigger story and the bigger issue is that how important it is for families to pitch in.
SARAH PALIN: Oh (INAUDIBLE)
VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, isn't it -- I mean, like, you know -- you know, I mean, this is obviously a wonderful child and -- you know, and bring great joy to your family, but the bigger thing is, like, the whole family's sort of pitched in.
SARAH PALIN: Yes.
VAN SUSTEREN: That's -- you know, because if you didn't pitch in, this would be a different story.
SARAH PALIN: It would be a different story. It would be some sad and some dire circumstances, I think, if the family doesn't all really kind of circle the wagons and help one another at a time like this. This is what family is for, also, to pitch in. And I'm proud of Bristol for accepting the help, too, that's being offered her by her grandmother, her great- grandma, her great-great-grandma, and aunts and cousins and -- we're very thankful to be in the situation that we are with so much help.
I don't know how other families do it, if they've got to assume that the young parents are going to make it on their own or assume that government will take care of the young parent and that child. That's not government's role. But this is a role for families to pitch in and help.
VAN SUSTEREN: So it's not just an issue of abstinence. That's one issue. But once we get beyond that -- you know, because when you have the discussion of abstinence, it's almost -- I always sort of feel badly because there's a wonderful child here and talking abstinence sounds -- I mean, it sounds...
SARAH PALIN: (INAUDIBLE) naive (INAUDIBLE)
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it doesn't even -- it doesn't even sound naive, but it doesn't sound very nice because this is a wonderful young boy.
SARAH PALIN: Yes.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, I mean, and so I hate to have that topic...
SARAH PALIN: I hear (ph) you.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, the bigger topic is, OK, now the situation -- the bigger question is, like, now -- you know, how to make it go right.
SARAH PALIN: Exactly. Exactly. So you get behind that, that ideal of, yes, abstinence, you know? Hey, don't get pregnant. Well, get beyond that when it happens, and then you deal with it. Life happens. Life happens and you deal with it, and Bristol's dealing with it wonderfully.
VAN SUSTEREN: Up next: Governor Palin has a very direct message to deliver to the president before he picks up that pen to sign that stimulus bill in Denver tomorrow. What does the governor want the president to know? Don't miss this. The governor tells you herself next.
VAN SUSTEREN: Now you go back to Alaska. Now, during our weekend with Governor Palin and her family, we caught the end of the Iron Dog snow machine race. The "First Dude," Todd Palin, has won the race before and was competing again this year. At the race, we spoke to Governor Palin.
VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, nice to see you!
GOV. SARAH PALIN: It's nice to see you! Are you warm?
VAN SUSTEREN: Actually, it's pretty balmy here.
SARAH PALIN: It is. It is nice. It's about 40 degrees warmer than it was even probably a week ago.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I've got so many layers of clothes on, I can hardly move.
SARAH PALIN: Yes, me, too.
VAN SUSTEREN: So this is fun for you.
SARAH PALIN: This is a blast. This is great. It's a true all-Alaskana event and happy to be a part of it.
VAN SUSTEREN: And the "First Dude" will be coming in soon?
SARAH PALIN: He better be!
VAN SUSTEREN: And Piper's here. Hello, Piper.
PIPER PALIN, DAUGHTER: Hi.
VAN SUSTEREN: Piper's always with you.
SARAH PALIN: Yes, she's always with me, especially at an event like this. This is so great. And these racers who've already finished up, they're amazing -- great mechanics, hard-working Alaskans, good guys who worked really, really hard and deserve these high places.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, let me ask you off topic. The stimulus bill -- we just got word across my BlackBerry that it's going to be signed I think on Tuesday by the president. Any thought on...
SARAH PALIN: Oh, yes. I wish he'd veto it and send it back until all of our lawmakers can read it and know what's in it. And I think I speak for a lot of Alaskans who say -- also understanding that the impacts on individual states with this stimulus package out, they're unknown impacts. So until our guys and our gals in Congress can read it and understand what the impacts are, I don't want to see it signed.
VAN SUSTEREN: So you're urging him, "Veto this one."
SARAH PALIN: I would call for a veto, absolutely. And you know, let's do this right, understanding there is going to be some kind of stimulus package. There's going to be some kind of attempts for economic recovery. I'd say construction projects that put people to work -- that fits the bill, but these big, huge, expanded social programs, where we're adding more people to the rolls -- and then the economic stimulus package dollars from the feds are going to dry up at some point. States then are going to be beholden to these programs. We will have to pay for them. That's not right. That's not fair. And we just want to make sure that whatever it is that's passed makes sense for our states, for the residents of our individual states.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, since I've been here, I've checked the Anchorage Daily News, and it looks like you may have had some impact on the -- on the president on this natural gas pipeline?
SARAH PALIN: Well, that is some good news. Yes, he understands that clean-burning natural gas, Alaska's got plenty of it. We need to tap into it and it needs to flow first through Alaska and then to some very hungry markets in the lower 48 states. We are willing and able to produce that gas for residents across America.
And he does see the light there. He understands that it's important. But he still isn't not quite there in understanding that we have to become less and less reliant on foreign sources of energy, conventional energy sources that Alaska and other energy-producing states have underground, ready to be tapped. He needs to understand that until renewable alternative energy sources can be tapped, on line, bring them on line and reliable and affordable sources, we need to tap these conventional sources.
VAN SUSTEREN: It seemed, though, from the article, though, that he's going to take it up with the Canadian prime minister and that -- you know, it was sort of interesting how he said that there'd been some letter that you sent.
SARAH PALIN: Yes, we sent a letter, and I asked him to look at it, asked him to come on up and see what Alaska has to contribute to the rest of the U.S., and all in the name of energy independence for our country. And I hope he takes us up on that offer not just to speak about the project and to give it some lip service, but really to see the project actually come to fruition and come up to Alaska to see what we have to offer.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, when are you going to take me to the North Slope?
SARAH PALIN: Oh, we need to get up there because you need to see it, also. You need to see ANWR. In fact, I appreciate, Greta, that your understanding also the potential that our states have to contribute towards energy independence in our nation.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I see the crowd is out here waiting to -- they should be looking at the finish line. They're all looking at you, Governor!
SARAH PALIN: No, no. You just watch. As soon as a racer comes by, all the attention goes to where it should be.
VAN SUSTEREN: So (INAUDIBLE) soon as we hear the roar of the snow machine, then forget Governor Palin.
SARAH PALIN: Oh, that's right. You know, we all keep it in good perspective here.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right, Piper, do you have anything to say about the race before we end this?
SARAH PALIN: Hey, another thing, though, that, Greta, I would add, too, is not -- it's not just a stimulus package that we need to keep our eyes and ears open about right now in America, but it's this fairness doctrine. It's these attempts in Congress that are being discussed at this point to shut down voices that are asking the tough questions. I know that you're asking some tough questions, Glenn Beck, Hannity, Bill O'Reilly -- you guys are asking tough questions about what's in this package and about what government is doing. Now, if there's any attempt to quash any of these voices, that's a scary thing for our democracy, for our country. So we have to keep our eyes open and ears open also for that kind of discussion.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, there's a lot going on in Washington, and obviously, a lot going on here in Fairbanks.
SARAH PALIN: This is fun stuff, though.
VAN SUSTEREN: And it's warm!
SARAH PALIN: It is. It's beautiful. We're blessed.
VAN SUSTEREN: Indeed. Thank you to both of you. Piper, always nice to see you, too.
SARAH PALIN: Thanks.
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