Gibson: Economy 'Sick,' Makes Palin Affirm Conservative Social Views

In Charles Gibson's third interview session with Sarah Palin, conducted at her home in Wasilla and featured on Friday's World News, Gibson asserted “we've got a very sick economy,” pressed her to list how she'd change Bush economic policy, insisted she concede “it's now pretty clearly documented you supported that bridge before you opposed it” (and to defend Alaska's continued earmark requests), all before he ran through several social issues -- from abortion to guns -- forcing her to state positions Gibson certainly realized would cement her to ideologically conservative positions seen as extreme by many of his viewers.

On the economy, with the Palin's airplane visible lakeside in the background, Gibson proposed: “John McCain and you are now talking about the GOP as a party of change. We've got a very sick economy. Tell me the three principal things you would do to change the Bush economic policies.” Amongst his follow-ups: “Summarize the three things that you'd change in the Bush economic plans.” Gibson soon ran through a list of social issue topics:
> Roe v. Wade, do you think it should be reversed?...John McCain would allow abortion in cases of rape and incest. Do you believe in it only in the case where the life of the mother is in danger?...Would you change and accept it in rape and incest?

> Embryonic stem cell research, John McCain has been supportive of it.

> Homosexuality, genetic or learned?

> Guns: 70 percent of this country supports a ban on semiautomatic assault weapons. Do you?
For my rundowns of the first and second Gibson sit-down with Palin, which aired on Thursday's World News and Nightline (with some of both on Friday's Good Morning America), check:
Part 1: “Gibson Accuses Palin of 'Hubris' and Seeing Iraq as 'a Holy War'”

Part 2: “Gibson Pushes Palin to Concede Global Warming 'Man-Made'”
Gibson promised tonight's (Friday's) 20/20 would include his questions about “Trooper-gate” and whether she banned books. In a clip at the very end of World News plugging more on 20/20, Palin dismissed the book-banning as an “old wives tale.”

Below is the full corrected transcript, for the record, of what aired on the Friday, September 12 World News (9 minute and 3 minute segments) -- with the exception that the show also ran a bite of Palin, as she and Gibson stood by her seaplane, telling Gibson that Barack Obama now probably “regrets” not picking Hillary Clinton.

(The ABCNews.com posted interview transcript of Gibson's third session with Palin is in a different topic sequence and includes portions not aired on Friday's World News, but which may run on 20/20.)
CHARLES GIBSON: Governor, John McCain and you are now talking about the GOP as a party of change. We've got a very sick economy. Tell me the three principal things you would do to change the Bush economic policies.

SARAH PALIN: And you're right, our economy is weak right now and we've got to strengthen it, and government can play an appropriate role in helping to strengthen the economy. Our 6.1 percent unemployment rate is unacceptable, also, across our nation. We need to put government back on the side of the people and make sure that it is not government solely looked at for all the solutions, for one.

Government has got to get out of the way, in some respects, of the private sector, being able to create the jobs that we need, jobs that are going to allow for the families to be able to afford health care, to be able to afford their mortgages, to be able to afford college tuition for their kids. That's got to be the principal here, reform government, recognize that it's not government to be looked at to solve all the problems. Taxes, of course, I think is one of the most important things that government can obviously control and to help with this issue.

GIBSON: What you said to me at the beginning I don't think anybody in the Bush administration would disagree with. What do you change in the Bush economic plans?

PALIN: We have got to make sure that we reform the oversight, also, of the agencies, including the quasi-government agencies, like Freddie and Fannie, those things that have created an atmosphere here in America where people are fearful of losing their homes. People are looking at job loss. People are looking at unaffordable health care for their families. We have got to reform the oversight of these agencies that have such control over Americans' pocketbooks.

GIBSON: So let me summarize the three things that you'd change in the Bush economic plans. One, two, three.

PALIN: Reduce taxes, control spending, reform the oversight and the overseeing agencies and committees to make sure that America's dollars and investments are protected.

GIBSON: So let me break some of those down. You talk about spending. How much smaller would a McCain budget be? Where would you cut?

PALIN: We're going to find efficiencies in every department. We have got to. There are some things that I think should be off the table. Veterans' programs, off the table. You know, we owe it to our veterans and that's the greatest manifestation that we can show in terms of support for our military, those who are in public service fighting for America is to make sure that our veterans are taken care of and the promises that we've made to them are fulfilled.

GIBSON: So you'd take military off the table and veterans' benefits. That's 20 percent of the budget.

PALIN: Benefits should be off the table.

GIBSON: Do you talk about entitlement reform? Is there money you can save in Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid?

PALIN: I am sure that there are efficiencies that are going to be found in all of these agencies. I'm confident in that.

GIBSON: But agencies are not involved in entitlements. Basically, discretionary spending is 18 percent of the budget.

PALIN: We have certainly seen excess in agencies, though, and in -- when bureaucrats, when bureaucracy just gets kind of comfortable, going with the status-quo and not being challenged to find efficiencies and spend other people's money wisely, then that's where we get into the situation that we are into today, and that is a tremendous growth of government, a huge debt, trillions of dollars of debt that we're passing on to my kids and your kids and your grandkids. It's unacceptable.

GIBSON: One of John McCain's central campaign arguments, tenets of his campaign, is eliminating earmarks, getting rid of them. Are you with John McCain on that?

PALIN: I certainly am. And of course the poster child for the earmarks was Alaska's, what people in the lower 48 refer to as the bridge to nowhere. Of course, it was a bridge to community with an airport in southeast Alaska. But that was excessive. And an earmark -- an earmark like that, not even supported necessarily by the majority of Alaskans. We killed that earmark. We killed that project.

GIBSON: But it's now pretty clearly documented you supported that bridge before you opposed it. But you turned against it after Congress had basically pulled the plug on it. Do you want to revise and extend your remarks?

PALIN: It has always been an embarrassment that abuse of the ear form -- earmark process has been accepted in Congress. And that's what John McCain has fought. And that's what I joined him in fighting. It's been an embarrassment, not just Alaska's projects. But McCain gives example after example after example.

And now obviously, Charlie, with the federal government saying, no, the rest of the nation does not want to fund that project. You have a choice. You either read the writing on the wall and understand okay, yes, that, that project's going nowhere. And the state isn't willing to fund that project. So what good does it do to continue to support something that circumstances have so drastically changed? You call an audible, and you deal in reality, and you move on. And, Charlie, we killed the bridge to nowhere and that's the bottom line.

GIBSON: You said you now agree with John McCain that earmarks should be eliminated. The state of Alaska, Governor, this year, requested $3.2 million for researching the genetics of harbor seals, money to study the mating habits of crabs. Isn't that exactly the kind of thing that John McCain is objecting to?

PALIN: Those requests, through our research divisions and fish and game and our wildlife departments and our universities, those research requests did come through that system, but wanting it to be in the light of day, not behind closed doors, with lobbyists making deals with Congress to stick things in there under the public radar. That's the abuse that we're going to stop.

GIBSON: In the time I have left, I want to talk about some social issues.

PALIN: Okay.

GIBSON: Roe v. Wade, do you think it should be reversed?

PALIN: I think it should and I think that states should be able to decide that issue. I am pro-life. I do respect other people's opinion on this, also, and I think that a culture of life is best for America. What I want to do, when elected Vice President, with John McCain, hopefully, be able to reach out and work with those who are on the other side of this issue, because I know that we can all agree on the need for and the desire for fewer abortions in America and greater support for adoption, for other alternatives that women can and should be empowered to embrace, to allow that culture of life. That's my personal opinion on this, Charlie.

GIBSON: John McCain would allow abortion in cases of rape and incest. Do you believe in it only in the case where the life of the mother is in danger?

PALIN: That is my personal opinion.

GIBSON: Would you change and accept it in rape and incest?

PALIN: My personal opinion is that abortion allowed if the life of the mother is endangered. Please understand me on this. I do understand McCain's position on this. I do understand others who are very passionate about this issue who have a differing view.

GIBSON: Embryonic stem cell research, John McCain has been supportive of it.

PALIN: You know, when you're running for office, your life is an open book and you do owe it to Americans to talk about your personal opinion, which may end up being different than what the policy in an administration would be. My personal opinion is we should not create human life, create an embryo and then destroy it for research, if there are other options out there. And thankfully, again, not only are there other options, but we're getting closer and closer to finding a tremendous amount more of options, like, as I mentioned, the adult stem cell research.

GIBSON: Homosexuality, genetic or learned?

PALIN: Oh, I don't -- I don't know, but I'm not one to judge and, you know, I'm from a family and from a community with many, many members of many diverse backgrounds and I'm not going to judge someone on whether they believe that homosexuality is a choice or genetic. I'm not going to judge them.

GIBSON: Guns: 70 percent of this country supports a ban on semiautomatic assault weapons. Do you?

PALIN: I do not and, you know, here again, life being an open book here, as a candidate, I'm a lifetime member of the NRA. I believe strongly in our Second Amendment rights. That's kind of inherent in the people of my state who rely on guns for not just self-protection, but also for our hunting and for sport, also. It's a part of a culture here in Alaska. I've just grown up with that.

Segment at end of the newscast:
GIBSON: Is it sexist for people to ask how can somebody manage a family of seven and the vice presidency? Is that a sexist question to ask?

PALIN: I don't know. I'm lucky to have been brought up in a family where gender has never been an issue. I'm a product of Title 9, also, where we had equality in schools that was just being ushered in with sports and with equal opportunity for education, all of my life. I'm part of that generation, where that question is kind of irrelevant, because it's accepted. Of course, you can be the Vice President and you can raise a family. I'm the Governor and I'm raising a family. I've been a mayor and have raised a family. I've owned a business and we raised a family.

When people have asked me when I was Governor and I was pregnant, "Gosh, how are you going to be the Governor and have a baby in office, too," and I replied back then, as I would today, "I'll do it the same way the other governors have done it when they've either had baby in office or raised a family." Granted, they're men, but do it the same way that they do it.

GIBSON: When we posted this question on the Internet, we had 15,000 replies within 48 hours and every woman with young children struggles with this question, should I, how can I, will I be able to. And I'm curious to hear you talk just about how you've internalized that.

PALIN: Sure. And I understand what that struggle is, what those internal questions are. I've gone through the same thing over these 19 years from having my first born to today having a newborn. In these 19 years, a lot of circumstances have changed. I stayed home with my son until he was seven years old, had just worked part-time, until I got into full-time employment again when he was seven. I had that choice then and I've had choices, of course, along the way.
Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center