Published January 25, 2017
This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," September 8, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Good evening. We are live in Wasilla, Alaska, the home of Governor Sarah Palin, who, in case you haven't heard, she is the first woman on the Republican ticket for president of the United States. And just take a look at the mountains behind us. Now you might know why people move to the great state of Alaska. It is absolutely, absolutely spectacularly gorgeous, a beautiful state. And of course, the entire state is so excited that their governor is on this ticket.
And joining me is one of the governor's long-time friends, Kristan Cole. It's also her home. Nice to see you, Kristan.
KRISTAN COLE, FRIEND OF GOVERNOR PALIN: Nice to see you, too, Greta.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. So are you excited about the governor being on the ticket?
COLE: Oh, yes. I don't think any of us could be more excited. We're really proud.
VAN SUSTEREN: How far away does the governor live from here?
COLE: From my house, probably seven miles.
VAN SUSTEREN: How do you know the governor?
COLE: Well, we moved here in 1970, and I was in the 4th grade and Sarah was in the 2nd, and so we went to the elementary school, which is now city hall.
VAN SUSTEREN: What kind of student was she?
COLE: She was a good student. She's very competitive, so whether it's sports or academics, she's good at it.
VAN SUSTEREN: Did you go to school with her all the way from the 2nd for her, the 4th for you, all the way through high school?
COLE: When I got to high school, I went to the rival high school, and so that's the only time that we weren't going to school together.
VAN SUSTEREN: What was she like growing up?
COLE: She was just very, very competitive, very focused. She's always been that way. But at the same time, she's incredibly friendly, so you know, anyone that's around her very long really walks away feeling good about themselves. She has a knack for that.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, since I've been here, no one has referred to her as Governor. Everyone keeps calling her Sarah. Does anyone call her Governor around here?
COLE: Well, you know, typically, I do in public, but when I'm not in public, I call her Sarah. She calls me Christy. That was my nickname in high school, and to this day, that's what she still calls me.
VAN SUSTEREN: As people grow older, they oftentimes lose touch. You know, Their live goes in different directions. You have families, you have children. Over the course of the last 10 or 15 years, did you see her often?
COLE: Actually, we've become a lot closer since we've become adults and started having children. She's had challenges. I've had challenges, both professionally and personally. And I think we're a -- well, I know we're a whole lot closer today than we were growing up.
VAN SUSTEREN: Between the time that she left high school and went on to college, got married and had a family, to the time she became involved in city politics, what was she doing?
COLE: Well, actually, you know, like any of us, I mean, she was -- she ran in some scholarship pageants to pay for college. She was doing journalism and broadcasting work, a variety of different jobs. We all did whatever it took because none of our folks had a lot of extra money to send us to school.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, I saw some video of her -- in fact, we have - - FOX News has gotten some exclusive video of her, but one was -- she was a sports journalist.
COLE: Right. Yes. She was.
VAN SUSTEREN: And then she left sports. Why did she leave sports?
COLE: You know, I don't know the answer to that. I do know that once she got started in politics, you could really see that she was almost compelled because she is -- she's -- basically, to say it -- and I think you all will see it in the lower 48, too, the more you get to know her -- is she really has a heart for people. And sometimes people think that she takes on a particular person, but really, it's not the person, it's the issue. And sometimes, you know, the issue is pretty tough, and so you know, she'll take on whatever she has to do.
VAN SUSTEREN: And I guess it's fair to say it really didn't hurt her career much to leave sports journalism.
COLE: No, it has not hurt her career.
VAN SUSTEREN: When was the last time you spoke to her?
COLE: Actually, I spoke to her husband this morning, and she e-mailed me yesterday.
VAN SUSTEREN: When do you expect next to see her?
VAN SUSTEREN: What are you going to say to her?
COLE: I'm probably just going to hug her. I mean, you know, what do you say? I mean, so many times, people ask me that, and you know, you're at a loss for words. She's -- what's funny is that we don't really think of her as the vice president. We've just known her forever, and so she's still just my friend.
VAN SUSTEREN: And Senator McCain, looking forward to meeting him? I assume you haven't met him yet.
COLE: No, I haven't, and that will be fun, yes.
VAN SUSTEREN: Have you been interested in meeting him before this?
COLE: You know, I went to college in Arizona, so did my daughter, and so yes, I've been interested in meeting him, but it's never -- our paths have never crossed.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. We won't talk about college (INAUDIBLE) we won't talk about my college, the University of Wisconsin.
VAN SUSTEREN: We both shared a secret off camera that we're not going to tell you viewers. But Kristan, thank you very much.
And we now go to hear from the former -- or not the former, the current mayor of the borough over Wasilla. And we spoke to him earlier today, and his name is Mayor Menard. Let's hear what he had to say about the governor of this great state.
VAN SUSTEREN: You are the mayor of the borough, is that correct?
CURTIS MENARD, MAYOR OF MATANUSKA-SUSITNA, FRIEND OF GOVERNOR PALIN: Correct. Yes, the Matanuska-Susitna borough.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is that sort of like -- in some ways like a county or...
MENARD: It's similar, but ours is 25,000 square miles. And it's the size of West Virginia.
VAN SUSTEREN: How long have you lived in Alaska?
MENARD: Since '68, so we've been here 40 years. We celebrated 40 years, my wife and I, and we had five children. And one of them passed away in a small plane crash.
VAN SUSTEREN: And that, of course, is how -- what brings us here to this ice rink.
MENARD: Yes. Yes.
VAN SUSTEREN: The ice rink, is it dedicated to your son?
MENARD: Well, this section is. The ice rink is dedicated to our son. And of course, we have the plaque over here.
VAN SUSTEREN: I guess we should explain that -- what the relationship is to Governor Palin and your son.
MENARD: Well, they were classmates. And they -- Curtis (ph) -- Sarah wrote in his yearbook -- I went back and looked at his yearbook, and she wrote in there, Ever since you came to my class in the 3rd grade and I saw your cute face, we've been friends ever since (INAUDIBLE) so -- and they grew up together. They played sports, obviously on different teams, but all in the same grade. And they were in the honor society and student council together. And Curtis was the godfather to their firstborn child, Todd and Sarah's son, Track.
VAN SUSTEREN: How close were Governor Palin and your son?
MENARD: Well, I thought they were very close. They were very, very good friends. And like I said, they grew up -- in the early years, when they were younger, we hunted and fished together. And then as they got older and got more involved in high school activities and stuff, there wasn't as much of that. But we always followed their sports, and I had the opportunity to call some of the -- be the sports announcer for their away games.
VAN SUSTEREN: It must be sort of odd or weird to think that somebody you knew at 8 years old is now the first woman on a Republican ticket for vice president of the United States. Is that odd to you?
MENARD: Mind-boggling, just mind-boggling, really. Yes. But it's -- we're just so joyed and so overwhelmed that -- yes, we're just so excited and so happy for Sarah and Todd and for the family, even though it changes your life by leaps and bounds, you know, with all the security and all the other things that they're not quite used to.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is that sort of -- I hate to use the word "typical," but is that sort of a typical Alaskan politician, you hunt, you fish, you try to avoid security, you try to live a normal life? I mean, is that -- or is she different?
MENARD: I think she's different in that realm. But I mean, there are several -- mostly male, on the male side, that are involved in that and fewer women. But Sarah's definitely a mold (ph) out of the box, and I think that's why Senator McCain chose her. He was looking for something to energize the Republican Party, energize the base, and he chose out of the box, and in my opinion, made an excellent choice and certainly got a bump in the polls. And as I saw in the news this morning, I believe that they were in Missouri, and when they came out, everyone was chanting, Sarah, Sarah, Sarah! So yes, she's definitely a good choice.
VAN SUSTEREN: And now you get to meet the current mayor of Wasilla, Dianne Keller.
VAN SUSTEREN: Mayor, so this is the building where now Governor Palin was mayor, is that correct?
DIANNE KELLER, MAYOR OF WASILLA: Yes, it is.
VAN SUSTEREN: And where are we?
KELLER: We are at 290 East Hearning (ph) Avenue at the city of Wasilla, at our offices.
VAN SUSTEREN: How long have you been mayor?
KELLER: I've been mayor since 2002. I succeeded Sarah.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why did you become mayor? Why did you want to be mayor?
KELLER: I didn't. I served on city council from '92 -- or from '96 to 2002, and I had lots of people asking me about a year out. And I kept saying no because I loved the job that I had. And once about the fifth person that didn't know any of the other people asked me, I though, Well, maybe there's something to this and I should consider it, and so I did.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. So you'll be term-limited out this fall.
KELLER: This October, yes, ma'am.
VAN SUSTEREN: And when you followed Governor Palin, who has been mayor of Wasilla -- she was termed out.
KELLER: Yes, she was termed out.
VAN SUSTEREN: When did you first meet her?
KELLER: I met Sarah when she came and knocked on my door. There was a land use issue occurring in my neighborhood, and she had heard that I had concerns. And so she came and knocked on our door and talked to my husband and myself about it.
VAN SUSTEREN: So did knocked on the door and says, Hi, I'm -- you all refer to her as Sarah, but did she say, I'm Mayor Palin?
KELLER: No, she just said, I'm Sarah Palin. She's simply Sarah. That's what I call her, simply Sarah. And she just knocked on our door and introduced -- she was a council member at the time, and talked to us a little bit about the land use issue and then told us that she was running for mayor and asked if we would consider voting for her.
VAN SUSTEREN: You know, since I've been here, everyone refers to her as Sarah. Is there anyone here who calls her, besides us outsiders, Governor or Mayor?
KELLER: I'm sure you'll find somebody that does, but like I said, in Wasilla, she's simply Sarah. She's our -- she's just always been accessible and asks people to call her Sarah, and so that's what we do.
VAN SUSTEREN: First of all, where are we?
KELLER: We are in the council chambers at the city of Wasilla. But I need to let you know that our basketball teams, when this was a schoolhouse, before it was a council chambers -- and our basketball teams would always win the home games because the ceiling is low, and our guys didn't shoot with a high arch. They would shoot with more of a straight arch, and the other team would not be able to handle playing basketball in our chambers here.
VAN SUSTEREN: People actually played basketball in these chambers?
VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, even I could dunk in these chambers.
VAN SUSTEREN: And I'm only 5-foot-3-- well, maybe I lie a little bit -- pushing 5'3. And I see your name, Dianne M. Keller, mayor.
VAN SUSTEREN: And is this also where then Mayor Palin sat?
KELLER: Yes, it is.
VAN SUSTEREN: What is -- this is quite an interesting gavel that you have.
KELLER: This is -- it's a diamond (ph) willow (ph), and it was handmade. And then it sits in a burl (ph) art (ph) -- a burl -- a burl is a fungus that grows on a tree, and we cut them off and make bowls and different things out of them.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is that likely the gavel -- has this gone through many administrations?
KELLER: Yes. Yes. As far back as I can remember, that's been the gavel that they've used.
VAN SUSTEREN: So it's possible, if she plays her cards right and she becomes vice president of the United States, she may try to reach down and grab the old gavel, or you guys won't give it up?
KELLER: That'll be a call for the next administration, since I'll be termed out.
VAN SUSTEREN: Now, you've got lots of pictures here. The -- what's this, 2008 Book of Lists? What is this?
KELLER: This is a book that "The Alaska Journal of Commerce" puts out, and it's a book of lists of top employers, top law firms, just a book of business -- it's a list -- book of businesses.
VAN SUSTEREN: And then you've got the -- here's another Alaska business, where she's on the cover. Is she popular with business here in Alaska?
KELLER: Is she popular with businesses here in Alaska?
VAN SUSTEREN: Yes.
KELLER: Yes, I would say so, with some of them, not with all of them maybe.
VAN SUSTEREN: OK. So a little hesitation. Is there -- what's the hesitation?
KELLER: She's shaken up the oil world.
VAN SUSTEREN: They don't like her?
KELLER: I wouldn't want to speak for them, but she has made some changes.
VAN SUSTEREN: Are you surprised that she's made those changes, I mean, because that's -- that's sort of at least what we're reading about, is that she's made an effort to shake up the oil world here. Is that Sarah -- is that Governor Palin?
KELLER: That's -- when she came and knocked on our door in 1996, she told us that she wanted to make changes at the local level. And so as long as I've known Sarah, she's been about change.
VAN SUSTEREN: What is it about her that she's so popular here? She has a very high popularity rating.
KELLER: I would have to say that Sarah Palin is a very hard-working individual. She seems very accessible. She's still -- well, probably not anymore now that she's a nominee for the VP, but you know, it wouldn't be uncommon to see her at the grocery store or at Wal-Mart buying school supplies for her kids. She's just always been -- she's never gotten an air, a political air about her. She's always been down to earth and accessible to people, and I think that they really can connect with that and really like that.
VAN SUSTEREN: We have so much more from Wasilla, Alaska. And we are also going to go all the way across the country to Orlando, Florida, for the very latest in the Caylee Anthony investigation. There's breaking news on that tonight, so do not go away.
VAN SUSTEREN: We are live in Wasilla, Alaska, home of Governor Sarah Palin. And this race is getting so hot. Have you seen the latest polls that have come out? Let me just put it up on the screen for you, these latest polls. Here it is. Look at the new FOX News Rasmussen polls in five key battleground states. In Ohio, Senator McCain ahead 51 percent to 44 percent. In Virginia, Senator McCain is also leading, 49 percent to 47 percent. In Florida, it is tied up at 48 percent. In Colorado, Senator Obama has the edge, 49 percent to 46 percent. In Pennsylvania, Senator Obama is ahead by a nose, 47 percent to 45 percent.
Now, think about this. The margin of error for all of these polls is 4.5 percent, plus or minus. That's extraordinary. So are things just as tight nationally? The answer is yes. Here's what the Gallup daily tracking poll has, Senator McCain at 49 percent, Senator Obama at 44 percent. That gives Senator McCain a 6-point convention bounce, according to the Gallup poll, and that is just so very tight.
All right. Now many people are saying that this race is tight. Indeed, it is. And we have spoken to more people, more friends of Governor Palin here in the state of Alaska. And one of them is Judy -- one of them will be -- actually, we've got a tape. We're going to go right to the tape of the most -- of one we talked to.
VAN SUSTEREN: First of all, thank you for doing this.
BRENT ELKINS, FRIEND OF GOVERNOR PALIN: Sure.
VAN SUSTEREN: How long have you known Governor Palin?
ELKINS: Twelve years.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you call her Governor?
ELKINS: No, I call her Sarah.
VAN SUSTEREN: Does anybody call her Governor?
ELKINS: No, not that I know of.
VAN SUSTEREN: No one you know at all calls her Governor?
ELKINS: Not in Wasilla.
VAN SUSTEREN: We're at an ice rink. How do you know -- I'll call her the governor, you can call her Sarah. How do you know the governor?
ELKINS: Both my older kids played hockey with her son, Track.
VAN SUSTEREN: So she's a hockey mom.
ELKINS: She's a hockey mom, and Todd is a hockey dad.
VAN SUSTEREN: Is there any sort of way to describe a hockey mom to those who might -- we know soccer moms, but...
ELKINS: A hockey mom has to get up at 5:30 in the morning, get them dressed, to practice, and you know, that's -- that's all I -- you know.
VAN SUSTEREN: Show up at hockey games?
ELKINS: Yes, and cheer for your team.
VAN SUSTEREN: How loud a cheerer was she? Was she one of those quiet hockey moms, or she was a loud hockey mom?
ELKINS: She was a loud hockey mom and Todd was a loud hockey dad. I can always remember -- Track is a real physical player, and a lot of times, he would end up in the penalty box. And Todd would always say, Track, play hockey, play hockey, just play hockey.
VAN SUSTEREN: Your daughter played on the boys' team.
ELKINS: Yes, my daughter played comp (ph) hockey all through elementary and junior high with the boys, and then through high school, where she was one of the team captains.
VAN SUSTEREN: So your daughter played on a hockey team with the governor's son.
VAN SUSTEREN: All right. Now, this is the hockey player right here. Can you shoot this picture? Where is she now, by the way, your daughter?
ELKINS: She's on full scholarship at the Quinnipiac University in Hamden (ph), Connecticut.
VAN SUSTEREN: Playing hockey?
ELKINS: Playing women's hockey, division I women's hockey.
VAN SUSTEREN: And yet she could keep up with Track and all the boys here in this rink.
VAN SUSTEREN: Proud of her?
ELKINS: Very proud.
VAN SUSTEREN: Now, did she know the governor?
ELKINS: Yes, as Sarah.
VAN SUSTEREN: As Sarah, right. As Sarah. And what kind of interaction or what do you know about the governor and the interaction with your daughter? Your daughter -- I mean, it's pretty unusual to have a young woman on the boy's hockey team.
ELKINS: Sure. Jordan (ph) would sometimes have to room with Sarah on hockey trips, and Jordan would ask her, you know, if you think this is right that I'm playing on the boy's team, and Sarah would tell her, If you can do it -- if you really want to do it and you can do it, then you go, girl.
VAN SUSTEREN: People around here love this Governor Sarah, as you call her.
ELKINS: Yes. She always does what's right for the state. She puts the state first, and that's why her appeal is so great.
VAN SUSTEREN: What is the most compelling reason to vote for her?
ELKINS: She makes decisions that are right for the state of Alaska, and I'm sure that she'll do the same for the country.
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