'Factor' Debut, Part 2: Sarah Palin Discusses Obama, Iran, Afghanistan

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," November 20, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: President Obama, you said, somebody asked you give him a grade. You gave him a four out of 10.


BARBARA WALTERS: Where do you rate Barack Obama?

PALIN: A four. A four. I think there are a lot of decisions being made that I and probably the majority of Americans are not impressed with right now.


O'REILLY: So you think that he's not doing a good job?

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SARAH PALIN, FORMER GOVERNOR OF ALASKA: No, I think in the two areas that I am most concerned about, national security, there's some questionable actions that he's taken so recently that I believe weakens our country and our security.

O'REILLY: Give me an example. I mean, what is he doing wrong?

PALIN: Gitmo. We decide we're going to close Gitmo without a security plan? We're going to bring Mohammed over here? And we're going to create this circus atmosphere here in New York and try this terrorist in our court system that is reserved under our Constitution for American citizens to be able to have their rights exercised. That's a problem.

O'REILLY: OK, so Gitmo and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed are mistakes. And I agree on both of them. I put them — if you had to close Guantanamo Bay for PR purposes, which is, you know, what their argument is, I'd put them in Alaska. I'd put them away up in Alaska. I'd build a little prison up there way away from everybody and see how they like it up there.

PALIN: You know, we do have a vacated base up there.


PALIN: And that too, where perhaps…

O'REILLY: Let me…

PALIN: ...but hey, let's hear what Alaskans would say about that. Terrorists on our homeland.

O'REILLY: You know what I think Alaskans would say? Yeah, come on, bring them on up. Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, 88, Alaska, minus 15. OK. Barack Obama, socialist?

PALIN: Scares me the road that he has us on, not seeming to understand what it is that built up America's economic system, the free enterprise principles, the shrinkage of government, not the expansion to allow the private sector to grow and to thrive and to do what it does best and our families keep more of what they earned, so that they can reinvest and prioritize instead of government doing it for them, which is a step towards socialism. So some of the steps we're taking economically right now scare the heck out of me.

O'REILLY: Do you think that he wants to change the country into an entitlement society?

PALIN: We're going to see, depending on his cap and tax bill that he will no doubt support coming out of Congress, that the health care bill, whatever that's going to cost us and whatever the answers are there to all of our questions about the health care, we're going to see, if he decides that he can kind of shift gears, change course, and move us back to more of a free enterprise, free market principles that built up this country, then my answer to you is going to be no, he's not hell-bent on changing the capitalist society that we are. But if he is stubborn about this, then my answer to you is going to be well, his actions speak louder than our words, and yes, he's going to change our capitalistic society.

O'REILLY: You ever talked to Obama? Have you ever spoken to him one-on-one to any extent?

PALIN: Not to any extent. I've met him twice, but...

O'REILLY: You've met him twice.


O'REILLY: But it's just hi, how are you?


O'REILLY: That kind of thing?


O'REILLY: You think he's smart?

PALIN: I think he's very smart.

O'REILLY: Honest, do you think he's honest?

PALIN: I think that he has told us some things in the campaign. I think that he's told us some things early on in his presidency that have not come to fruition. He was all about positive change, and I think a lot of Americans are believing that the change that he's ushering in isn't necessarily positive.

O'REILLY: Well, he says it is. I'm — you're a conservative, so you don't like it, but…

PALIN: How — positive in terms of creating debt for our children?

O'REILLY: No, but he says, you know what the arguments are. I mean, he says that, look, a lot of Americans can't afford health insurance, the insurance companies are out of control, I've got to get them under control. That's why I'm doing what I'm doing. You know, that's his point of view.

PALIN: Let's get the health care problems under control then. But let's use free market, results-oriented, patient-centered solutions to do that. Tort reform, he's not embracing any of those ideas. Getting rid of the waste and fraud that he insists today, if we would just get a handle on that, we could pay for this one point.

O'REILLY: Well, he says he's going to get rid of the waste.

PALIN: Let's do it right now then.

O'REILLY: One of the amusing points of your book for me was that you wanted to do the Reverend Wright dance. You wanted to get Reverend Wright up there and ram it right down Barack Obama's throat. Why?

PALIN: Well, I believe that it's not negative campaigning or off-base to call someone out on their associations, and Reverend Wright was a close associate of Barack Obama's for 20 years. And...

O'REILLY: What's wrong with Reverend Wright?

PALIN: Any reverend who would say “God damn America,” there is something wrong with him and his beliefs.

O'REILLY: Do you believe Barack Obama when he said he didn't know Reverend Wright was that radical? Do you believe him?

PALIN: Over 20 years of being in the pew of Reverend Wright's church, surely you would think there would be something spewed from the pulpit that didn't quite sound right for America, over 20 years. Maybe he just happened to miss those particular sermons though.

O'REILLY: You look a little skeptical.

PALIN: I don't know. But my point is in the campaign, I did. I wanted to talk about the associations and the past voting record, too, and the experience, the 150 days in the U.S. Senate, building a foundation of experience. I wanted to talk about things like that. But we didn't. And I think that there was some unfairness there again to the electorate.

O'REILLY: But again, you know, I'm sitting there and I'm going, they told you not to bring up Reverend Wright because McCain didn't want to do it. And you said to them what?

PALIN: Well, I said that I would want to talk about it.

O'REILLY: But you didn't make it a crushing point. See, I think I would maybe grabbed McCain's tie.

PALIN: No, no, no.

O'REILLY: And pulled him over, and said you got to do this.

PALIN: You know what? We did. And I'm going to give McCain some respect on this one, too. What I did in the rallies and up there at a podium, I put it — this empowerment in the hands of the voters, of the people who were there and were watching. And I said, it's not off-base to call a candidate out on their record and their associations, and it's not negative campaigning. In other words, hey you guys, if we're not going to do it, voters, you do it.

O'REILLY: But it's stunning that you wanted to do it and the McCain people said you couldn't do it. And you know, that might have, particularly in places like Pennsylvania, made a difference because Reverend Wright obviously is a very controversial guy.
One more question about President Obama. A lot of people are very nervous about him now. He's not having a good time in the White House now. You pointed out his lack of experience. You don't have that much experience. You walked away from the governorship after, what, two years, 2.5 years?

PALIN: Going into my lame duck session, my fourth legislative session deciding I wasn't going to run again and not wanting to put Alaskans through a lame duck session.

O'REILLY: OK, but is it fair for you to criticize Obama's lack of experience when somebody could make the same criticism about you on the national stage?

PALIN: If you're talking about executive experience, I would put my experience up against his any day of the week. I've been elected to a local office since 1992 and was the city manager, strong leader form of government, was a chief executive of the state, was an oil and gas regulator. There was some good experience there that could have been put to use in a vice presidential ticket. We have to remember, too, that I wasn't running for president.

O'REILLY: Now, but that's the key question because John McCain is up there in years. You had to be qualified to take that office over.

PALIN: Right, but I'm saying I was running for vice president just like Joe Biden in running for vice president. I've never once heard you or anybody else question Joe Biden and his experience. He…

O'REILLY: Well, he's got a lot of experience. Let me be very bold and fresh again. Do you believe that you are smart enough, incisive enough, intellectual enough to handle the most powerful job in the world?

PALIN: I believe that I am because I have common sense, and I have, I believe, the values that are reflective of so many other American values. And I believe that what Americans are seeking is not the elitism, the kind of a spinelessness that perhaps is made up for that with some kind of elite Ivy League education and a fact resume that's based on anything but hard work and private sector, free enterprise principles. Americans could be seeking something like that in positive change in their leadership. I'm not saying that has to be me.


O'REILLY: Well, after speaking with Governor Palin, I do believe she has huge political ambitions. As always, I could be wrong.
But coming next, there are grave threats against America, including Iran. Governor Palin will address those threats after these messages.


O'REILLY: Continuing now with our lead story, a major policy interview with Sarah Palin. As you may know, Iran presents a very dangerous threat to the USA.


O'REILLY: Sarah Palin is called upon in 2012 to run for president whether it be in the Republican Party or in an Independent party. And I'm going to interview you then. And I'm going to say, look, Iran is this far away from getting a nuclear weapon, this far away. How are you going to stop them?

Click here to watch Sarah Palin in the No Spin Zone!

PALIN: Let's start considering the sanctions that we should have been applying already, especially in this past year. Let's start looking at cutting off their imports of refined petroleum products.

O'REILLY: Does that mean a blockade, a naval blockade?

PALIN: We need to at least be willing to do such a thing and discuss it with our allies. And we need to be working closely with France and Britain, or other allies whom we can count on even.

O'REILLY: But they're already onboard. The primary…

PALIN: They're on board with what though? What were…

O'REILLY: They're onboard with economic sanctions against Iran. Do you know the country that isn't onboard, that's causing all the trouble here?

PALIN: Well, we have to question Russia's commitment to all this also.

O'REILLY: Excellent. Russia is the problem.

PALIN: Right.

O'REILLY: Russia will not stop gas going in. The embargo means nothing. Putin's saying look, I'm not helping you out unless you give me sphere of influence in Eastern Europe. And Sarah Palin running for president says what?

PALIN: Well, we need to send that message that we are the superpower of the world and it's not a…

O'REILLY: How do you do that?

PALIN: By working closely with our other allies also, so that Putin...

O'REILLY: He doesn't care.

PALIN: ...heeds what we're doing. He's got to care.


PALIN: Because he's got relationships with these other countries also. We have to show the support for each one of our allies. With Israel, we cannot get into Israel, for instance, and say we're going to tell you whether the Jewish community can expand or not expand within your borders. Instead, what we need to do is tell Israel that we will — we'll go to bat for them.

O'REILLY: Well, what does that mean though? Look, say Israel, say Netanyahu says — calls you up and says, I'm bombing them, I'm bombing Iran, they're too close, I'm not going to let it happen. What do you say? You say go ahead, Netanyahu, go bomb them? What do you say?

PALIN: Oh my gosh, any kind of war strike is the absolute last option.

O'REILLY: All right, so you, you say no.

PALIN: That anybody would…

O'REILLY: But he's saying to you, you guys aren't going to be able to stop him.

PALIN: That's why we cannot let the world get to the place that you're talking about right now.

O'REILLY: Well, we're already there.

PALIN: No, we're not. We're not quite there yet. There is still hope. But what we have to do is exert the pressure that America can put on our allies and on those who are not so friendly.

O'REILLY: Obama says he's doing all that.

PALIN: He's bowing to world leaders and I think any other president in our country…

O'REILLY: Do you mean that literally, the Japanese emperor?

PALIN: I mean that literally.

O'REILLY: Do you think Obama's weak abroad?

PALIN: I believe that his approach to diplomacy is not what history has shown us works. What works in my mind, reading the history book, is what Reagan did. And that was to let the rest of the world know that America can be independent in a sense that we have the resources so that we won't be reliant on other countries to feed us and to feed our economy. But what Reagan did, I think what was the right thing, he boiled it all down to this. He looked at our enemies, enemies around the world, and he said, we win, you lose. That's what I want to see and feel and hear from our new administration, from President Obama.

O'REILLY: But that's what Bush did, and it got him into all kinds of trouble because the world didn't like the Bush doctrine, unilateral action, OK? He crippled Al Qaeda. Bush crippled Al Qaeda, but in the process got us bogged down in Iraq and got world opinion against the USA.

PALIN: President Bush and his policies kept our homeland safe for those years after 9/11.

O'REILLY: No doubt.

PALIN: And I think we need to learn from some of the policies that he implemented there, too. And I would like to see President Obama acknowledge that Bush was successful in that arena.

O'REILLY: He's never going to do that.

PALIN: What I'd like to see is a shift from this 9/10 policy that it seems that Obama perhaps is embracing, and we start looking more at the 9/12 policies. And that…

O'REILLY: Well, that's what you would do.

PALIN: That's what I would do.

O'REILLY: But Obama isn't going to do that unless he's forced to it.
Afghanistan, the U.S. ambassador says don't send in the 40,000 troops, this is such a corrupt place. Obama doesn't really know what to do at this point. We think he's going to send troops in, but he's been, what, 16, 17 weeks now. A lot of people think you cannot win in Afghanistan, you cannot impose democracy on that nation.

PALIN: It's going to be so tough. It's going to be so tough but Iraq was tough, too. And when that surge strategy was finally implemented, we started to see the victorious steps taken in Iraq. Let's repeat that in Afghanistan. Granted conditions are different, geographical conditions are different than Afghanistan. But Obama asked back in March a new strategy. He tasked McChrystal with coming up with something. McChrystal then found the strategy, and now all these months later, Obama still hasn't been able to make up his mind in terms of our commitment to victory in Afghanistan. I think…

O'REILLY: Do you think it's possible for victory in Afghanistan? Is it possible?

PALIN: I do. It has to be. We have got to be victorious in Afghanistan or the terror cells are going to grow. And what is Al Qaeda's goal? What is Al Qaeda's goal? Growing those terror cells so they can come and destroy America. That's what Al Qaeda is for, is for that.

O'REILLY: But if you have a corrupt Afghan government, that the people don't support, no matter how many troops you send in there, it isn't going to work. That's the problem in Afghanistan.

PALIN: Well.

O'REILLY: The Karzai government is a bunch of corrupt people.

PALIN: Karzai is an imperfect leader. Every world leader is. We need to be working with him. We have no choice. We have got to win in Afghanistan. We have to send in the reinforcements, and I say this as a mom of an infantryman who could ultimately end up over there, which scares me. Of course I know that for the future of our world, we have got to — we've got to get rid of the terrorists over there and not allow those cells to grow.

O'REILLY: On that note, the Al Qaeda leadership's still hiding in Pakistan. Do you go in and get them?

PALIN: There's some encouraging steps taken there in Pakistan, where internally they're cracking down on the terrorists within. That's some progress that we had been hoping for for quite some time. So that's encouraging.

O'REILLY: China? We can't do anything to China because they prop up our economy. They yelled at Obama when he went over there. The U.S. dollar going down the drain. Are you comfortable with China owning a trillion dollars worth of U.S. currency? Are you comfortable with that?

PALIN: I'm not comfortable with U.S. policy today that is allowing China to own so much of America.

O'REILLY: It's free enterprise. They have the money. They can buy it.

PALIN: With our debt — what isn't right about this though is that we're continuing to grow our debt, continuing for allow this situation that we're in, where we're beholden to China and to others. We can't look at China and be blaming them right now for problems that we're causing ourselves by spending too much money and growing government.


O'REILLY: Now on Monday, Sarah Palin will tell us whether she will lead a populist movement in America, perhaps a third party in 2012.

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