The Power of Sarah Palin

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," November 13, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Tonight: Love her or hate her or something in between, but no one -- and we mean no one -- can stop talking about her. Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin's back in the headlines, front page Washington Post, USA Today best-seller list. And get this! Her new book isn't even out yet! The entire country is buzzing! Excerpts of the book are leaking out, and as always with the governor, people are taking sides.

Joining us live is the former Massachusetts governor Jane Swift. She is the first woman ever to hold that office. Good evening, Governor.


VAN SUSTEREN: I'm very well. Governor, what is it -- I mean, I've picked up the newspapers. Here's USA Today. She makes the front page. Her book isn't even -- even -- isn't even published yet. What is it about this governor that's got everybody talking, whether they're for or against her or in between?

SWIFT: Well, certainly, controversy sells books. I think what will be really interesting, as the book actually gets released and we all get to read it, is to figure out how Governor Palin is going to channel all of this attention. Is it going to be to talk about policy issues that put her in play for the presidential election, or does she just want to set the record straight about some of the personal issues that everyone else has had a chance to comment on?

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, there's something sort of interesting about it, though. So many journalists have sort of pooh-poohed her. She was made -- she was made fun of on "Saturday Night Live," yet they can't get enough of her, putting her in newspapers, you know, The New York Times, The Washington Post. I mean, the -- it's, like, you know, it's sort of funny, like, if they're so indifferent to her, if they think she's just so off the radar screen, why are they themselves so willing to give her, you know, the front and center?

SWIFT: Well, I think there are all kinds of subplots to the Sarah Palin story, although we'll have to read the book to see what she thinks the plots are. But certainly, as a society, we're still really conflicted over the role of mothers of young children working, and that played out. There were, you know, lots of stories of intrigue within the campaign, and true or not, those things always make for good press. But you're right, I think even her harshest media critics don't want to see her go away. She is generating attention, and that's an opportunity for her.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, it's -- it's sort of interesting that her first choice for her first interview is Oprah Winfrey, which, of course, Oprah's got a huge audience. She's -- also has a book club. But she also came off the set last year and campaigned for now President Obama. So that's sort of -- you know, it's going to be -- it's going to be interesting to see the dynamics there.

SWIFT: Well, and a huge female audience. And many of the issues that divide people about Sarah Palin do have gender overtones, and so it is a wonderful platform. I think Barack Obama, and even before that, you know, when Bill Clinton went and played a sax on the Arsenio Hall show, we saw that these softer forms of media really do play a big role, whether you're trying to sell books or if you're trying to position yourself for a future run for political office.

And what I'm hoping to figure out on Oprah is which of those two things the governor is focused on now.

VAN SUSTEREN: So is that where -- is that what you're looking for? Because I know, for me, the question I have -- and I assume that -- and we hope that she's going to be here "On the Record" and we -- you know, we're campaigning to get her to appear here, and I know she's appearing on a number of shows. But the question I have is why did...

SWIFT: No one's been fairer to her than you, Greta.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, that's very sweet of you. I hope that both sides of the aisle -- we get Hillary Clinton here, too, as well. We get them on both sides of the aisle. But I want to know...

SWIFT: You're fair.

VAN SUSTEREN: Thank you. But why did she quit? And if she quit, you know, is that the end of her political career, or can she convert that move into a position of strength and -- so that potential voters are satisfied?

SWIFT: I do think that the quitting played into some of the less attractive narratives about her and worked, I think, against her in the short term politically. But it certainly gives her the opportunity to make some money, which is very powerful and very important if you're going to run for political office. And she obviously has a huge platform.

The question, I think, you and I both have is, sort of, what does she use that for? Is she positioning herself to weigh in on important public policy issues, which I guarantee will get her less media coverage and a lot less interest, but I think many people want to see, or is she, as she is completely entitled and justified in doing, looking to leverage all of this attention to help her family and their lifestyle and use it, you know, in whatever direction it takes her.

But I think there is an important issue to be addressed here that the quitting of the governor's -- of her quitting from being governor certainly puts into major play. I mean, it's obvious she's not in a policy-making role right now, but does she still want to continue to contribute in some way to those policy debates?

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, it's going to be fascinating as we watch this roll out because, you know, we've had the leaks in the last couple days of certain excerpts. You know, we're not sure exactly, you know, how that happened, but journalists have their ways. Some don't keep their agreements on -- and some get books other ways. But anyway, the roll-out's going to be interesting. First interview is Oprah, and then I think here with Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly. I think that's the schedule, but I could be wrong on that. Oh, Barbara Walters. But anyway, we'll all be watching. And Governor, thank you very much, and good luck to you, Governor.

SWIFT: Thank you, Greta.

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