Palin Has the 'Fire in Her Belly' for Possible White House Run, But ...

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," May 19, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Rush Limbaugh and former House speaker Newt Gingrich had a heated exchange of words earlier this week right here "On the Record," all stemming from Speaker Gingrich's comments about Congressman Paul Ryan's Medicare proposal.

But is this something Governor Sarah Palin wants to get in the middle of? Well, we asked the governor about that and what she thinks about the role the media plays in politics. Former governor Sarah Palin went "On the Record."


VAN SUSTEREN: Governor, nice to see you.


VAN SUSTEREN: Well, Governor, the gate's open. Some candidates have jumped in already, not all. But I'm sort of curious big picture, what do you think the state of the Republican Party is right now?

PALIN: I think the principles in the Republican Party are sound. The planks in our platform are great. The idiosyncrasies of some of the characters within the party are -- you know, they are what they are. And the mainstream media really likes to capitalize on some infighting and some mistakes made within the party so they exacerbate it and make it sound worse than it is. But the planks and the platform are right for America.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, isn't it our job, though, in the media to challenge the candidates, maybe put them in -- I'm not talking about being personal, but I mean, really grill them on some of the things they say about policies, even perhaps even the missteps or at least what is later called a misstep because sometimes those are the true intentions or the true views and someone after 24 hours has sort of rethought it after getting some heat.

PALIN: Absolutely. That is the media's appropriate role in holding an official or a potential candidate -- holding their feet to the fire, not playing the personal gotchas, but making sure that the record is clear regarding what it is that they say or the content, the context of what it is that they're saying. Yes, that's the media's role. If the media doesn't play that role, then they're not a cornerstone of the democracy that we would like to believe that they are.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you think that the challenge that -- in the last 24, 36 hours, or 48 hours, there's been a challenge -- Speaker Gingrich for what he said about Congressman Paul Ryan's bill in terms of dealing with entitlements -- do you think the challenge of him by the media and everyone going after him was right or wrong or someplace in between?

PALIN: Well, I think that the media -- that we all have a right to ask Speaker Gingrich, what in the heck did you mean that Paul Ryan's budget plan is radical or social engineering? No, what is radical is not proposing a plan to counter Obama's budget plan that has us on the road to bankruptcy.

What Paul Ryan's plan does -- not only does it tackle the Medicare problems that are -- we're going to face just smack-dab in our face very shortly and allow for a safety net to be provided our seniors with health care coverage down the road, but Paul Ryan's plan saves us $1.2 billion a day, as compared to Obama's big government overspending, debt-induced budget plan that he's rammed down our throats.

VAN SUSTEREN: Yes, I thought it was sort of interesting, though, in this sort of whole exchange, I thought to myself, If I were Senator Rick Santorum, I would send flowers to Speaker Gingrich because Senator Santorum making the remark about your former running mate, John McCain, something about him not understanding or knowing torture and what -- something -- some reference to that because that's a question -- you never get near Senator McCain because he does know torture more than anybody else. I thought that he sort of -- he was sort of unscathed as much as he could be, that the fuss over Speaker Gingrich overshadowed him.

PALIN: You know what I thought after the whole Newt Gingrich thing in these last 24 hours, Greta, was, "Bless his heart" and every other good ol' boy's heart that's in that political game there in the Beltway. They don't really know any more than the rest of us. Greta, it was Newt Gingrich who told me in January of this year, Sarah Palin needs to slow down and really think through what it is that she has to say. Well, you know, he stumbles, too. We all stumble. We all have our strengths and our weaknesses.

VAN SUSTEREN: The other night, when Governor Huckabee announced that he wasn't going to run, he said something like it wasn't in his heart, the way I always (INAUDIBLE) you don't have the fire in your belly. Do you have -- I mean, I know you haven't made a decision, but do you have that fire in your belly? Do you really want it?

PALIN: Oh, that's a great question. I think my problem is that I do have the fire in my belly. I am so adamantly supportive of the good, traditional things about America and our free enterprise system, and I want to make sure that America is put back on the right track, and we only do that by defeating Obama in 2012. I have that fire in my belly.

It's a matter for me of some kind of practical, pragmatic decisions that have to be made. One is, with a large family, understanding the huge amount of scrutiny and the sacrifices that have to be made on my children's part in order to see their mama run for president. But yes, the fire in the belly? It's there!

VAN SUSTEREN: You talk about your children. I mean, you know, what more, you know, can your children -- I mean, like, haven't your children through the sort of the hell of it? I mean, does -- at some point, you know, you just reach the saturation point. I imagine, you know, for children of politicians, they've heard it all. I mean, is there really anything other than that their mother would be away from them in a campaign, but I hope that men get that same sort of criticism being away from their children -- but in terms of the sort of the personal cost, haven't they heard it all?

PALIN: Yes, you know, that's a good point. And I know that my kids have heard it all. And yet, you know, the darts and the arrows keep flying. And you see that movies are being made, books are coming out. Hoarded e-mails from a disloyal former staff member have been compiled by a hateful blogger, and those are going to be released. Things like that, that are taken out of context and told...


VAN SUSTEREN: That sticks in the beginning. I mean, that kind of stuff, usually, I mean, for every candidate, sticks in the beginning. But after a while, it's, like, you know, Really? I mean, even in our -- even in our business. I mean, every day, I get e-mails saying how terrible I am on TV and I do this, I do that, and I'm all these horrible things. But you know, after 20 years on TV, it's, like, yes, OK.

PALIN: Well, exactly, Greta. And I'm at that point of saying, yes, you know, whatever. It's going to keep on coming, and you know, I feel like I have a prayer shield in front of me that deflects a lot of that. I just want to make sure that for my loved ones, for my parents, for my spouse and my children and those close to me, that they have that tool to deflect also so that they're not adversely affected.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, whatever candidates -- all the candidates decide to run, they've got to know that we're going to go after them, and we're going to, you know, hopefully, do it with good manners, but we're going to be very aggressive, pry into everybody's...

PALIN: OK, then...


PALIN: OK, then, Greta, what you -- and you could help lead your colleagues in this mission. Come after us based on our record, based on our present day statements about what we intend to do to, for, with this country. Don't come after us for little petty stupid things like...

VAN SUSTEREN: And don't take the bait.

PALIN: ... how much...

VAN SUSTEREN: You know what? Then the candidates shouldn't take the bait!

PALIN: How do we do this, then?


PALIN: Here's the bait. Here's how we do it. Here's how -- here's how the bait, though, is almost impossible sometimes not to nab. Somebody e-mails the other day from a tabloid and says, We hear a story about one of your kids, blah, blah, blah. And they have the facts so wrong that, obviously, you have to -- and they say that they're going to write the story no matter what, and if you don't respond, well, then, the record won't be set straight. So dang it, you got to respond to at least get the facts out there that can help set the record straight. Well, boom, you took the bait. Now they have an opportunity to perpetuate whatever story it is that they have.

I think it's sick. I think it's ridiculous. It's such a waste of time. Time is our most precious resource. I'm tired of wasting it. So yes, I'll take you up on that, in me being more committed to not taking the bait and you being able to lead your colleagues in just getting the facts out there, who, what, where, when and why in reporting. Hammer away at our records and our intentions and what our view for America is. Lay off the petty stuff.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you know, this is going to be an interesting season, whoever runs, whether you run or not. And you know, I hope that we can go after everybody aggressively. Anybody's got any dirt, though, you know, really bad things in past, you know, that's -- you know, voters need to know that. I mean, it's fair. It's -- some of it's ugly. But you know, it's fair.


VAN SUSTEREN: ... Arnold Schwarzenegger is the perfect example. If he were to run again, you know, if he's going to betray his wife and his children, maybe he'd betray the voters. So I think that's a legitimate topic. Some of this stuff stings and hurts, but it's the process. And I guess that's where, you know, you got to have that fire in your belly to take it.

PALIN: It is, and that's fair for the media to come after candidates based on that kind of criteria, what really matters, and have their past actions been a reflection of their character and how perhaps that they would govern and try to lead. So that is very fair.

What isn't fair, though, is when it's only one-sided, when it's only the conservatives, say, who get hammered away at those things that the press wants to know. You know, the perfect example of the media one- sidedness is Obama's record not being explored, his associations in the last campaign not being explored, and now revelations of maybe some of his upbringing, some of his background, certainly his associations, how they impact his world view and how that affects his decisions today.

VAN SUSTEREN: I -- you know, I think that's -- you know, it's -- I mean, everyone should be challenged the same way equally. I'm with you on that. I actually think it tends to fall more along gender lines because I've seen some horrible things said about former speaker Pelosi, now Leader Pelosi, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. I mean, there's blistering things have been said about them, just horrible things. So I think it's sort of equal opportunity more against -- more towards the women. But I think time after time, things should change. But I hope it's water off a duck's back for all of them, and also for candidates.

But one thing that I will say, though. I think that we should explore people's record. And I think that's important, not just look -- not just look at the horrible things that -- or the things we don't like, whatever it is, but also compare and contrast to some of the other things the person brings to the table.

PALIN: Yes, compare, contrast, explore their record, see if what they have done in the past, what they're doing today affects their potential decision making because their decisions in leading this country are going to affect every single one of our lives.