The People's Choice in Health Care Revealed ... Sorry President Obama

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This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," September 17, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: You know, it's not easy to sell people something they don't want. President Obama, if you're watching, plug your ears for this one because here are the new numbers. According to a new FOX News poll, 46 percent of Americans prefer our current health care system to the president's plan, 37 percent of Americans like the president's proposal.

Joining us live is former White House press secretary Dana Perino. Nice to see you, Dana.


VAN SUSTEREN: Boy, those numbers must be sort of unpleasant to hear at the White House tonight.

PERINO: Those numbers are bad, but they track with numbers of all the other polls, as well, and that's why I think they should be a little bit worried, though I heard from a Democratic friend the other day that they don't believe the polls, which I know that, you know, when we were in the White House, they believed all the polls when President Bush had low approval ratings.

I think that they are making a mistake if they're not looking at these numbers and trying to figure out how do they do something radical to try to change it.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, if you say they don't believe the polls, the problem is, if it's as you say, that the other polls (INAUDIBLE) track the other polls -- I mean, you know, maybe one group could be wrong, but the problem is that -- I would get rather nervous if all the polls sort of tracked the same.

PERINO: There's a definite trend that the polls are all going in the wrong direction. He didn't get any bump from his speech to the joint session of Congress, and the subsequent media appearances aren't seeming to have any effect on people's opinions. So something has to happen. And on Sunday, when he does the five Sunday shows except FOX, I would think that he would need to say something new. And if he doesn't say something new, I think people are going to start tuning out.

VAN SUSTEREN: What about all the appearances? I mean, in terms of -- I mean, trying to figure out how to be effective to deliver your message, I assume that, you know, you want to get your message out there, and he's your best prize (ph). He's the president. On the other hand, you don't want him so diluted that he shows up that we're all bored.

PERINO: And that we're talking about how he's doing five Sunday shows for a week. He could have done one, done one exclusively for an hour with any of the -- any of the networks. The one that bothers me, though, is doing the five Sunday shows, but then doing Letterman for an hour on the Monday. Letterman's a great show to do, but as a sitting president at this very serious time, and I don't know if it sends the right message.

VAN SUSTEREN: Except he's trying to reach a different audience. I mean, the audience for the Sunday shows, it's the same audience. I mean, everyone's flipping around. You're talking to the same people five times. At least with Letterman, you got different people.

PERINO: That might be true, but you have to remember what the type of show that it is. And if you do it for an hour, it's very hard to sustain for an hour, and it's risky. Now, with risk comes possible opportunity, but it also comes with some possible downfalls.

VAN SUSTEREN: What could -- the number -- the number that's out there, the 46 who prefer it, the current -- I mean, would that make -- in any bill when you were at the White House, if you got a 46 number, is that dead in the water or is it -- there's still hope for that?

PERINO: At this point, it might be dead in the water. If you were -- if we were five months ago and we were at 46 percent and you could start to figure out a way to make that number better for you, that would be something. But the fact that they have spent the entire, let's say, five months now talking about this and their numbers are still low has got to be a concern. The number that -- from the FOX News poll that interested me even more, though, was that if you get sick, do you want a private-run plan or a government-run plan? Which do you think would help you...


VAN SUSTEREN: ... private.

PERINO: ... private.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Matt Latimer, who worked at the White House, he's got the -- one of the first books out, first to talk. Frankly, I didn't know who he was until I saw the...


VAN SUSTEREN: Rather raw, what's being released. Of course, the publisher releases the spicy stuff.



PERINO: I haven't seen all of it. I have a problem when people are taken into confidence and -- when you work in a pressure cooker like the White House, you have to be able to trust your colleagues, and it's pretty upsetting to find out that you couldn't trust somebody who was right there. He was very quiet. He wasn't around very much. He was more of a junior birdman, as President Bush used to say, had a little bit of access to the president and then misused it.

The thing that really bothered me is that in the book, even some say that he's just joking around when he says President Bush pretended not to know who Sarah Palin was, the media doesn't think of it that way. Of course he knew who Sarah Palin was.

VAN SUSTEREN: Does -- would you recommend that he make a call to Governor Palin, say, you know, I didn't say that, or, I was joking around, or something, or just leave it alone, let it go?

PERINO: President Bush may have already called her. I mean, they have a -- they have a good relationship. And I was on the record right away, letting people know that I was there when President Obama had met her a month before when we were on our way to China, when he stopped over to refuel, and that...

VAN SUSTEREN: So he knew her.

PERINO: Of course, he knew her. (INAUDIBLE) and in fact, when he -- when he saw her, he said, Madam Vice President, and she hadn't even been announced yet. He just -- he just knew that her name was out there in the news. So it just bothers me that there's a -- there's a sense that there's an entitlement, one, to take advantage of people who gave you a great opportunity, and two, to misrepresent it.

VAN SUSTEREN: I think (INAUDIBLE) he better hope he makes a lot of money on the book because the first thing I thought is the talker -- that's -- you know, he's going to have a hard time getting a job if he's a talking, hard time -- he's a lawyer, and the first thing (INAUDIBLE) he's a talker and that's -- that's...

PERINO: Well, you know...

VAN SUSTEREN: Not a good quality!

PERINO: James Carville (INAUDIBLE)

VAN SUSTEREN: Dana, thank you. Always nice to see you.

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