Behind the Feminist 'Left' Jabs to Palin

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," October 21, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Meanwhile, Senator McCain is drawing a line in the sand, defending his running mate, a woman, against what he calls the "feminist left." In Missouri, Senator McCain said this.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: My friends, it's remarkable the comments of the feminist left about Sarah Palin. I want to tell you, I am so proud of the way she has energized America. She's a reformer. She's a great leader. She's the most popular governor in America. And I can hardly wait to introduce her to Washington, D.C.


VAN SUSTEREN: But a small group of high-profile feminists has lined up behind the Republican ticket. They stood on stage today at Governor Palin's side -- Linda Klinge, the former Oregon president and now current vice president of the organization NOW, Shelley Mandell, president of the LA chapter of NOW, Elaine Lafferty, former editor-in-chief of "Ms." magazine, and Lynn Rothschild, a member of the Democratic platform committee.

Why were these women standing with Governor Palin today?


GOV. SARAH PALIN (R-AK), VICE PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: They are here today to endorse the McCain-Palin campaign!


VAN SUSTEREN: But these high-profile feminists are still the minority. So is Senator McCain right? Is Governor Palin being attacked by the feminist left? Joining us live is former Massachusetts governor Jane Swift, the first woman to ever hold the office. Welcome, Governor.


VAN SUSTEREN: Very well. So Governor, what is it? Is Senator McCain right that the left, the feminists, are going after Governor Palin, and unfairly so?

SWIFT: Well, certainly, the left is going after Governor Palin and Senator McCain. I think the fallacy here is that there are some on the liberal left who believe only they have a true call or an ability to call themselves feminists. And I think there are many folks left, right and middle who believe that women should be treated fairly and equally, there shouldn't be gender bias in campaigns. But the women aren't going to just support any candidate who's a woman. They have the same thinking and reasoning ability as men. And we're going to support the candidate that we thinks will be best for our family.

Watch Greta's interview with former Gov. Jane Swift

VAN SUSTEREN: I remember once Vice President Cheney's wife, Lynn Cheney, worked with me at another network. She said that the term "feminist" had been hijacked by some and that feminist had a much broader definition than what some people might think. What is a feminist?

SWIFT: I think a feminist is someone who believes that women should have equal opportunity to men. I think it is someone who understands that Title IX allowed girls to participate in athletics and compete at the same level and in the same numbers that boys do. And I think that it is someone like me, like Governor Palin, who hopes that our daughters, if they work hard and play by the rules, can do virtually anything they want to in their life.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right. It's not just the swipe, though, from the feminists on the left that Governor Palin (INAUDIBLE) some conservative women have taken a couple of whacks at her, Peggy Noonan in The Wall Street Journal, Kathy Parker, another columnist. I mean, what's -- what's with the -- am I -- is there something with the women, something in the water? Am I imagining that some of the women are going after her equally as sexist as some men?

SWIFT: Well, you know, I think that what is the most alarming is that somehow, it's news when a woman criticizes a woman on issues. And the reality is that there may be some on the left or the right who think that their female voice has more resonance with women when they criticize another woman. I don't buy into that. I think women should be fighting to allow women of a variety of different viewpoints to be heard and to have leadership positions in our society, to be treated fairly. But we can disagree, and hopefully, we can do it without being disagreeable.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, when I mention Governor Palin, you know, if I'm on an airplane or whatever, I get two very extreme reactions. She electrifies both sides. What is it about Governor Palin? She can really wow a crowd and she can really upset some people.

SWIFT: You know, I've been trying to figure that out myself because I've experienced the same thing, Greta. I think it is partly a reflection of the fact that our country is so bitterly divided in this election, which I think is really unfortunate because we're going to have to come together after the election to solve some pretty vexing problems.

But I also think that there has been a lot of research done that shows that women of both political stripes tend to have the coverage of them, when they run for these high offices, be more personal than focused on their experience and what they did governing. And I think that that type of personality coverage probably is a little bit of what really elicits strong feelings in folks from both sides of the aisle.

VAN SUSTEREN: And I suppose it doesn't come without some embarrassment that the Democratic Party that's been since 1984, that they could put up -- and they still haven't put a woman on the ticket since 1984, with Geraldine Ferraro. And I would -- I think it's sort of, you know, shame on them. But anyway, that may be my personal bias. Governor, thank you.

SWIFT: Thank you very much, Greta.

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