This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," November 6, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Even now after the election Governor Palin continues to be the center of media attention, and that is not all. At least one anonymous staffer for Senator McCain is slamming the governor of Alaska.
But not everyone agrees with this anonymous person on Senator McCain's staff. Joining us live is former Massachusetts Governor Jane Swift, the first woman to hold that office. Nice to see you, Governor.
JANE SWIFT, FORMER GOVERNOR OF MASSACHUSETTS: Nice to be here.
VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, did the RNC buy your clothes?
SWIFT: No, unfortunately, I had to do it all myself. If I could have figured that out I might have.
VAN SUSTEREN: Another important question before we get started. Barney, the White House dog, who's being accused of biting someone--guilty or not guilty?
SWIFT: I would say not guilty.
VAN SUSTEREN: Good.
Now, let's get down to serious stuff. Has the media been intellectually honest with Governor Palin?
SWIFT: Well, the great thing is we have both Hillary Clinton and Governor Palin's elections to look at, and we have some research. So we can look at do we focus more on the appearance of female candidates? And clearly the answer in research has been yes. We'll have to go back and look at this. Do we focus on their personalities more than we focus on their policy positions? My intuitive response is in this campaign, yes.
Those are ways that historically women candidates have been treated differently, and I think we've seen it a great deal here. It's seriously, I think, over the top.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know what I think is even worse? I always thought it was bad to talk about the clothes and all that stuff.
I don't think most people really appreciate the seriousness, when you come up to somebody and say, "Everyone says you're stupid. But I can't tell you who it is. I can't tell you who it is, but everyone says you're stupid."
VAN SUSTEREN: What is she to do?
SWIFT: Or mean.
VAN SUSTEREN: Or mean, or a diva.
SWIFT: The best would be when I would meet people in person for the first time, they'd say, "You're much nicer than on television."
SWIFT: TV distorts. Campaigns distort, because it's all through a prism. And so I think, obviously, there has been a caricature made of Governor Palin. And that's not healthy for our party if we want to--
VAN SUSTEREN: It's not healthy for women or for the country. Forget your party.
Watch Greta's interview
SWIFT: Well, my daughters are 10 and seven. They don't read all the stuff on politico.com. And they have a great view of the Republican Party. They have this dynamic woman who is the governor of a major state, who is relishing her role in leading t he country, making their lives better, and being a mom. That's something we should celebrate.
VAN SUSTEREN: The interesting thing is this whole business, there was one unknown person who says that she didn't know that Africa was a continent.
So here's the answer. What's the governor to do, to stand before the cameras and said say to the media, Africa is a continent? There's our sound byte. We now run it 80 billion times. "Saturday Night Live" has Tina Fey saying it. There is nothing this woman can do. And everyone is forgetting something.
She was sitting in her office last August, the governor of the largest state in the union. I think it's the largest, isn't it?
SWIFT: By landmass.
VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you very much. That was safe.
VAN SUSTEREN: And she gets a call from the head of the party who says "Will you be my nominee?" And from then on it's open season.
SWIFT: So I think in the party what we need to do is remember that our goal should be to build the party to attract new voters, to get maybe some of those young voters. And there's a lot of what Sarah Palin brings to our party that we need-youth, energy--
VAN SUSTEREN: I don't care about her party.
SWIFT: Well, I do.
VAN SUSTEREN: I care about what she does for women.
SWIFT: Listen, if both parties aren't in the game in promoting women and getting us good candidates and then treating them well when they decide to run, then you won't have any women, because this is a partisan political game.
VAN SUSTEREN: There's a lot of focus on the interview with Katie Couric and there is no focus on the debate with Senator Biden. Everyone looks for the mistake in the media or the failing, but nothing about the other.
Anyway, governor, thank you.
SWIFT: Thank you.
VAN SUSTEREN: Joining us live, Elaine Lafferty, a Democrat and former communications director for Citizens for Senator McCain, and an old friend of mine who wrote the book that I put my name on.
ELAINE LAFFERTY, CITIZENS FOR SEN. MCCAIN: Well, I wrote part of it.
VAN SUSTEREN: Anyway, Elaine, you traveled with Governor Palin.
VAN SUSTEREN: What's this business about she doesn't know Africa is a continent?
LAFFERTY: Greta, you know journalistically I spent time in Pakistan, Afghanistan. I traveled with her for a day. This is a woman who is very smart. She was asked questions, she was interested, she knew an awful lot about Afghanistan, she knew about the Taliban, she knew the history of the place.
People forget. She's the governor of a state that, I think, has $4 billion in exports last year, China and Japan are the top trading partners. This didn't just happen.
I do not believe that she did not know Africa was a continent. It just doesn't make any sense. She was terrific on the trail.
VAN SUSTEREN: The thing that's so bad is that it gets such legs in this business. If someone says this and won't identify himself or herself, spreads it around the media. It's atrocious conduct. The media repeats it and it becomes part of -- it's like spelling "potato" for poor vice president Dan Quayle.
LAFFERTY: Yes. And I think it' s one or two people, because I spent a lot of time in the campaign talking to people who were with this woman all day, all night, from 7:00 in the morning, a workhorse till midnight. She inspired them. The staff loves her.
VAN SUSTEREN: A diva?
LAFFERTY: Not a chance. If that's a diva--that plane was cramped, it was tough conditions. Terrific people--the staff loved her. So I think this is sour grapes from one or two people.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, it's interesting. I interviewed her twice, so I got to spend a little time with her, not a lot. I was enormously impressed at how smart she was.
I don't agree with her on everything, that's for sure. But when I spoke to her, she was right there, fast with the answers, and smart. And I've just been appalled at the mistreatment. Disagree with her and hit her on the policies and hit her hard, but the personal stuff --
LAFFERTY: And the one or two people that are doing this, it's really a dishonor to Senator McCain. It's a dishonor to everybody. It makes nobody look good. And it's untrue, and I think that makes everybody sad.
VAN SUSTEREN: What's the story of the clothes? I keep bringing it up because the media does. Do you know anything about it at all?
LAFFERTY: Anybody who says that she spent all this time shopping did not look at the schedule for this campaign. If you think that she just wandered into a department store and spent a couple of hours shopping or sent people off, it just didn't happen. I think it's an untrue story. You know, there's just nothing to it.
VAN SUSTEREN: How did she take this?
LAFFERTY: What's that?
VAN SUSTEREN: How did she take this criticism on the campaign? Because she must know that people are saying -- she's got an enormous amount of fans. I get tons of emails supporting her. She's got a bazillion fans--but the ones that are whacking her.
LAFFERTY: I think at the end of the day integrity and character win out. And I think she has that. She is a tough woman, she is a tough governor. She's going to do her job, do it well, and focus on what she needs to do right now, which is going back to a great state and being a great governor.
VAN SUSTEREN: What's a Democrat doing supporting her?
LAFFERTY: Listen, I don't agree with her on a number of issues, too. But I think she's an effective woman in politics, she's an effective and powerful voice for the things that she believes in. And that's why I supported her.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, the thing that is the shocking thing to me is that, you know, I admire all candidates, because in many way s it's a really tough job. And whether it's Senator McCain, president-elect Barack Obama, or Senator Biden, it's a rough game.
LAFFERTY: I think she's going to surprise a lot of people by being a much more moderate voice in politics in the future.
VAN SUSTEREN: Barney--guilty or not guilty?
LAFFERTY: I'm on Barney's side.
VAN SUSTEREN: Another not guilty for Barney. Barney's going to skate through this one. Elaine, thank you.
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