Why Everyone Is Just Wild About Sarah

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," November 16, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Well, let's face it, the media just can't get enough of her -- cover of Newsweek, every major newspaper, The New York Times, Washington Post, you name it. And yes, she is selling books like hotcakes. Former Governor Sarah Palin kicks off her book tour. Her book title is blunt, "Going Rogue."

And today Oprah Winfrey gets the first interview -- you know, the one everyone, even those who deny it, but every interview that everyone wanted. Governor Palin answers Oprah when Oprah asks her whether she felt Oprah snubbed her by not inviting her to appear during the campaign. She answers Oprah when she asks about the infamous campaign wardrobe. And Oprah asks her about whether she's planning to run for president in 2012, and so much more.


OPRAH WINFREY, HOST: Let's talk about the interview with Katie Couric.





WINFREY: You talk about it in the book, so I assume everything in the book is fair game...

PALIN: Yes, it is. It is.

WINFREY: You do say that it wasn't your best interview.

PALIN: Here again...

WINFREY: Did you think that was a seminal, defining moment for you, that interview?

PALIN: I did not, and neither did the campaign. In fact, that is why segment two and three and four and maybe five were scheduled. The campaign said, Right on. Good. You're showing your independence. This is what America needs to see, and it was a good interview. And of course, I'm thinking, If you thought that was a good interview, I don't know what a bad interview was because I knew it wasn't a good interview.


VAN SUSTEREN: And what about Levi Johnston, the father of her grandson, Tripp? Oprah wanted to know.


WINFREY: So one final question about Levi. Will he be invited to Thanksgiving dinner?


PALIN: You know, that's a great question. And it's lovely to think that he would ever even consider such a thing because, of course, you want -- he is a part of the family, and you want to bring him in the fold and kind of under your wing. And he needs that, too, Oprah. I think he needs to know that he is loved. And he has the most beautiful child. And this can all work out for good. It really can. We don't have to keep going down this road of controversy and drama all the time. We're not really into the drama. We don't really like that. We're more productive. We have other things to concentrate on and do, including...

WINFREY: Does that mean yes, he is coming, or no, he's not?


VAN SUSTEREN: Former White House press secretary Dana Perino joins us. And I should add that those are the ones that Harpo -- Oprah's production company released to us. We didn't get to pick and choose those, so they were given to us. So what do you think? How was the interview?

DANA PERINO, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think that Sarah Palin showed herself to be extremely gracious, and that is going to win her -- you can't underestimate the power of graciousness. And people are -- like you said, the books are selling like hotcakes. She finally has a chance to talk about it. And there's something about her that just either gets under somebody's skin or really makes them even more interested.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, here's what I thought was particularly interesting, is that -- look, I'm like everybody else. I like to hear the gossip. I like, you know, to hear the personal stuff. But what surprised me is that -- and I've got this big button about women not getting the policy questions. I realize it's Oprah. But we could have had one policy question, one question about energy, the economy, anything that's sort of part of the campaign.

PERINO: (INAUDIBLE) You might have been able to ask a question like, What would you have done if you ended up with 8 percent unemployment, 9 percent, 10 percent, now 10.2 percent unemployment? What do you think about health care? What do you think about energy? There are all sorts of -- there's an endless supply of questions that you could have asked Sarah Palin. Obviously, the gossip ones are interesting. What's amazing to me is some of the coverage, and especially the Newsweek cover.

VAN SUSTEREN: All right, hold it up.

PERINO: (INAUDIBLE) newsmagazine.

VAN SUSTEREN: You brought -- you brought -- you brought a prop.

PERINO: OK, I don't know where it is but...

VAN SUSTEREN: Dana's got a prop. Can you see it? All right, let's put -- there we go. What's your problem with the Newsweek cover?

PERINO: OK. This was a picture that Sarah Palin took, posed for "Runner's World" magazine. Now, for "Runner's World" magazine, that makes a lot of sense.

VAN SUSTEREN: Good picture for runners.

PERINO: For Newsweek, a news magazine, with the endless number of photographs -- why did they choose this? And then why do they choose to talk about her -- you know, her legs in the article?

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, let me -- and let me cope (ph) because it's so funny that you -- you would -- you'd find the cover -- I didn't see the cover because I get -- I get these on my Kindle and I don't get good cover. But here's a thing from Evan Thomas, who's a well-respected author in town. This is what Evan Thomas writes. "Obama knows the long odds against a right-wing populist winning the presidency, no matter how good she looks in a skirt or running clothes brandishing a gun." Now, I -- I...

PERINO: Can you imagine if this was -- if this was any other woman politician, not just conservative or a liberal, if this was any other woman politician, one, they probably wouldn't have looked that good in "Runner's World" magazine and probably wouldn't have posed for it anyway. But I think that there would have been outrage, especially from the feminist groups. But instead, there's silence.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you know, you can disagree with her policy, and I'm all for that, challenge her on policy. Probably should ask a little bit about the policy. But the thing that always, you know, rubs me the wrong way, and it happens with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or Governor Palin, people -- two people -- two women who I might agree with on some things but not everything, is that they get treated differently. They get -- they get -- they get these questions. I don't think the guys notice it, though.

PERINO: Well, that's one of the things. Like, if you don't notice it, it's even worse. But if you step back, what do we learn as women running for higher office in America, which is that you are going to be treated differently. We're not going to necessarily change that in our lifetime, so you have to adjust. And one of the things she talks about is the preparation for her campaign, and even down to the clothing and what she was going to look like. That matters. I mean, and it's just the way that it is.

VAN SUSTEREN: And Oprah does get to say, you know, indeed, that that matters, that's a challenge that men don't necessarily have. But anyway, what about the Oprah interview? Anything grab your attention?

PERINO: Well, I thought that -- I thought that Sarah Palin was remarkably calm through the whole thing, which is great. She should be, right? She's written a great book. She has a chance to talk. She has nothing to prove. She's not running for anything. And I think that maybe it left a lot of Americans wanting.

But I do think that one thing is true, is that even if you disagree with her on the policy, at least maybe now, if you've seen the Oprah Winfrey interview, you could identify with her and say, I can relate, or at least, I think she's a nice person, I can trust her, and set aside all the political attacks that happened last year.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, you know what struck me is -- or the question that interested me the most was the abortion discussion and the discussion about when to tell Todd, her husband, that the child had Down syndrome. And she said that she wanted to wait until she could tell him in person. And because of the nature of the way people work in Alaska, he was on the North Slope, that she had to -- she had to sit with that -- that thought, not wanting to tell him on the phone but -- and having to wait three weeks to tell him that they were going to have a boy, but that the boy was going to be a different boy.

PERINO: Right. So I think that anybody can respect the fact that you would want to have that conversation with your loved one in person because it would be one where you also want to be comforted. So she sat with that and thought about it. She talks about in the interview about how she realized that there are some times in life you are dealt less than ideal circumstances and you have to figure out how you're going to deal with those, and taking the easy way out or deciding a decision that wasn't for her, which is not something she was going to do, but she had to wait to be able to tell her husband in person. I think that anyone could respect that.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you agree that she tends to get slapped around a little bit by the media?

PERINO: Of course she does! That's part of the fun, right? That's why we get to have crazy covers like this on Newsweek, so they can sell more magazines.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, what I don't get is that the people who are unwilling -- I mean, who -- who are so interested in slapping her around -- and I mean the gratuitous ones. I don't mean the ones where you're challenging her on policy and where you disagree with her on policy, but the gratuitous ones -- is that what's so funny is, like, why are they so afraid of her? If they think she's so ineffective, if they think she's such a lightweight, why -- why are they so afraid of her, or why are they so obsessed with her?

PERINO: Well, it could be a lot of things. I'll tell you one thing that I heard tonight at a fundraiser that I went to, a fundraiser for John McCain, who said she raised up to -- I think it was $300,000 (INAUDIBLE) in the campaign total. In one event -- $98,000 of that $300,000 came from one event that she did with Sarah Palin. And maybe that is one of the things that gets the Democrats a little bit nervous.

VAN SUSTEREN: I always wonder if -- you know, because we hit the road a lot here on "On the Record," and so we go out with the candidates and we -- and we see that the crowds they draw -- and I'm not so sure that the media recognizes her ability to attract people.

PERINO: They...

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, at least crowds. I mean, to be -- I mean, none -- no one can attract them like President Obama attracts them. I mean, those are just, you know...


VAN SUSTEREN: Those were so...

PERINO: But look at...

VAN SUSTEREN: ... astronomical.

PERINO: ... the reality. And actually -- you know, I got to travel this weekend, too, out in Colorado and Wyoming, and just meeting some people who said they were excited about the book coming out, interested in what I thought, did I think she was going to run for president. But one of the things I heard repeatedly is that, I feel like I can trust her and I feel like I can relate to her. And I don't even think that some of the media, when they are asking questions about her or to her, realize how condescending they sound, not just to Sarah Palin, but to all the people who might admire her.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, I posted the transcript on GretaWire from the interview today. And I confess I do like the personal. I like the gossip. I'm human. There are no policy questions. I would have liked to hear, you know, what she thinks about the economy, since that does -- you know, that's certainly a -- at least one question on that. But nonetheless, she'll have a lot of interviews and we'll probably hear from her on a lot of that. But it's posted on Gretawire, the Oprah interview. And the book is selling like hotcakes. Dana, thank you.

PERINO: Thanks for having me.

VAN SUSTEREN: Speaking of former Governor Palin, you will hear from her directly next week when she goes On the Record." That's the tease.

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