Obama vs. Palin Over Nuclear Policy

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," April 9, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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LAURA INGRAHAM, GUEST HOST: In the "Personal Story" segment tonight: the war of words over the White House's new controversial nuclear policy. Here's what Sarah Palin said on Fox News the other night.


SARAH PALIN: You know, that's kind of like getting out there on the playground, a bunch of kids ready to fight and one of the kids saying, go ahead, punch me in the face and I'm not going to retaliate. Go ahead and do what you want to with me.


INGRAHAM: President Obama shot back when ABC News asked him about Palin's criticism.


PRESIDENT OBAMA: I really have no response to that. Last I checked, Sarah Palin's not much of an expert on nuclear issues. If the secretary of Defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are comfortable with it, I'm probably going to take my advice from them and not from Sarah Palin.


INGRAHAM: Ouch. And the governor kept it going today.


PALIN: Now the president, with all the vast nuclear experience that he acquired as a community organizer and as a part-time senator and as a full-time candidate, all that experience, still no accomplishment to date with North Korea and Iran.


Joining us now from New York is Sally Quinn. She's a columnist for The Washington Post. Now Sally, I'm watching this, thinking if I'm Sarah Palin, I am loving this. The president of the United States took the bait and responded to what she said the other day on Fox. Why would he do that?

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SALLY QUINN, WASHINGTON POST: Well, first of all, I think it would be helpful for her if she could learn how to pronounce nuclear instead of "nucular."

INGRAHAM: OK, beyond the petty pronunciation issues. I'll be watching your grammar for the rest of the show.

QUINN: Yes, but let's be a little loftier than that.


QUINN: Yes, you can argue it both ways. One could say he would have done better not to engage with her because it simply gave her much more attention. And she's loving every second of it because the president has come back at her. And now she gets to go back at him.

On the other hand, you could say that he's sort of putting her in a category with a lot of kooks and know-nothings and that he was also being engaged by Ahmadinejad. And so, that's not great company for her to be in. So I think you could look at it both ways.

INGRAHAM: Well, yeah. Well, what I think — you see the president recently, Sally, he went after Beck and Limbaugh, mentioned them. He talked about us in talk radio as kind of vitriolic. We, you know, appeal to the extremes. He's gone after Hannity several times over the last year or so. And it just seems kind of — it doesn't seem very presidential. You know, you're always going to get criticized. You know, President Bush got criticized. And he's going to get criticized. Any president is going to get criticized from the other side. And I think the best thing is do what he said he was going to do, which you know, I'm not going to really comment on that, but let me tell you what I am going to say. And instead he says I'm not going to comment on that, and then he says, well, she has no nuclear experience. And of course, he had no nuclear experience and became president of the United States.

QUINN: Well, I certainly, you know, I thought that last year when they boycotted Fox, that was a mistake. And I think they all agreed at the White House when they decided that wasn't the best way to go. But in terms of nuclear experience, this whole issue is so sophisticated and so complicated. And I think one of the things that Sarah Palin tries to do is to simplify things. And she's turning this into a bumper sticker, and it isn't a bumper sticker.

Obama has very carefully left wiggle room so that we could actually respond in a nuclear way if we had to, if we were attacked. That's not what they want to do, and that's certainly not what they plan to do. But I think when he's talking about not wanting to respond with nuclear attacks even though we get attacked by some country which has signed the nonproliferation treaty…


QUINN: …if they attack us with biological or chemical weapons, and I think that's very smart to say we're not going to hit back…

INGRAHAM: Well, you — right.

QUINN: …from a nuclear point of view…


QUINN: …because I mean, when you use nuclear weapons, you're talking about something so much bigger…

INGRAHAM: Well, that's true.

QUINN: …that it not only impacts the country attacking you, but…


QUINN: …also…

INGRAHAM: I need to get in on this though.


INGRAHAM: I need to get in on this, because Rasmussen's poll that just came out two days ago asked — polled about the nuclear question. And you can kind of make fun of Sarah Palin and say what you want about Sarah Palin if you want to do that, but she's a lot closer in what her sentiment is about nuclear weapons than this administration. Poll question after poll question, Americans think the nuclear arsenal is very important to our security, don't want to take options off the table, including the nuclear option. And basically, that's kind of the sentiment that Sarah Palin, again not a politician, basically a commentator now, was expressing. So it seems like anytime anyone criticizes substantively this president, he really — he gets his back up. He sticks his chest out. And he starts getting all prickly. And I just — to what end? I mean, he's the president of United States. You're going to get criticized.

QUINN: Yes, no, I think that you're right about that. But it does seem to me that she doesn't have a grasp of the issues. And I think that if people who really to know about it and have studied it…

INGRAHAM: Which issues?

QUINN: Well, I'm talking about this whole issue of nuclear proliferation.

INGRAHAM: Well, Charles Krauthammer, Peter Brooks of the AEI…

QUINN: Right.

INGRAHAM: I can list off a whole — John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, they all have serious reservations about what the president is doing vis a vis nuclear policy.

QUINN: Right, well…

INGRAHAM: And would you say that they're smart?

QUINN: Well, I think some of them are and some of them aren't, but…

INGRAHAM: OK, which on that list aren't smart?

QUINN: Oh, yes.

INGRAHAM: Gosh, you're going to get yourself in big trouble. Krauthammer, Brooks or Bolton, OK?

QUINN: They're all great guys. Nice guys. But I think, you know, Ronald Reagan was very much to favor of curbing nuclear proliferation. And he's a great hero of Sarah Palin's, but I think you're right about the fact that the polls show that people don't understand it.


QUINN: And I think that the Obama administration…

INGRAHAM: …I think they understand more than you give them credit for.

QUINN: They could do a better job of explaining that for one thing…


QUINN: …they have not taken the option of nuclear weapon off the table. They have simply just said…

INGRAHAM: They — Sally, they need to do a better job of explaining a lot of things, I guess, given where he is in the polls today, but we appreciate your joining us very much.

QUINN: OK, thanks.

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