Episode IV in the remarkably-milked ABC interview with Sarah Palin aired on this evening's World News Tonight. A longer version will be on 20/20. While last night's interview focused on foreign policy, tonight Palin talked domestic issues with anchor Charles Gibson. But the quote that's getting the most play (because apparently no one can let go of the Democratic primary) is about Barack Obama not selecting Hillary Clinton to be his running-mate:
I think he's regretting not picking her now. I do. What determination! And grit, and even grace through some tough shots that were fired her way. She handled those well.
Gibson opened by asking Palin what three specific things she would do to change the Bush economic policies. It's hard to tell from the WNT broadcast because the interview was so heavily edited, but it seemed as if Palin spoke pretty platitudinously about the economy rather than offering specifics. She had the unemployment figure (6.1%) at her fingertips, but her overall answer was a general one.
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 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 principle here. Reform government. Recognize that it's not government to be looked at to solve all the problems.
Gibson asked what exactly she would change, and she said agency reform and oversight is crucial -- including of "quasi-government agencies like Freddie and Fannie."
Her three economic priorities, when asked to outline them:
1) reduce taxes
2) control spending
3) "reform the oversight and the overseeing agencies and committees to make sure that America's dollars and investments are protected"
Pressed on spending, she said a McCain administration would "find efficiencies in every department" but excluded veterans' benefits from any cuts. Gibson asked Palin about entitlements -- social security, medicare, medicaid -- and her response was that she'd find efficiencies in "all of these agencies." Gibson responded that agencies aren't involved in entitlements and professorially tried to launch an explanation of discretionary spending. But Palin interrupted, sticking to her guns: "we have certainly seen excess in agencies, though."
The next subject was one of the evening's most anticipated: earmark control. Palin's changing position on the "bridge to nowhere" has been the subject of much debate in the past week. She told Gibson "we killed that earmark, we killed that project." Gibson pointed out that she originally favored the project, and Palin's response was pragmatic for a state governor but hardly the fire-and-brimstone stuff of John McCain's anti-earmark platform or Palin's own "thanks but no thanks" description from her convention speech.
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, yeah, 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 that have so drastically changed?
She also said that the now-famed Alaska earmark requests to fund harbor seal gene research and the mating habits of crabs were inoffensive because they came from "research divisions and fish and game and our wildlife departments and our universities" via a transparent process, rather than via closed-door negotiations involving lobbyists. She said "earmark abuse will stop" under a McCain-Palin administration. The Obama campaign was quick to circulate a response release pointing to news reports that Palin did employ lobbyists to secure funds for Wasilla when she was mayor of that town, and to promote opening ANWR to oil exploration when she was governor.
The interview then turned to social issues. Palin told Gibson that she believes Roe vs. Wade should be overturned and returned to the states to decide. She said she believes abortion should be allowed to save the life of the mother, but does not agree with the exemptions McCain supports in cases of rape or incest. But she stressed that she wants to reach out to those on the other side of the issue.
I know that we can all agree on the need for and 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.
Palin also said she opposes embryonic stem cell research, which McCain has said he supports. The campaign released a radio ad today promising that a McCain-Palin administration would work with "allies in Congress" to secure funding for stem cell research. But the ad did not use the word "embryonic" -- so it may have only referred to recent advances with skin cells.
Asked whether homosexuality is genetic or learned, Palin demurred, and said she wouldn't judge anybody based on where they stood on nature vs. nurture. She did not discuss her position on homosexuality itself -- though, in fairness, Gibson didn't ask her about it, at least in the portion of the interview that aired on World News Tonight.
The formal portion of the WNT interview closed with what has been perhaps the most armchair-quarterbacked issue surrounding Palin's nomination: her role as a mother of five, including a special-needs infant. Gibson asked her if it was sexist to ask how someone can manage a family of seven while serving as VP. Palin didn't respond specifically about the question's sexism, but said she was "lucky to have been brought up in a family where gender has never been an issue." She added that for women of her generation that question is "irrelevant."
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've 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 a baby in office or raised a family. Granted, they're men. But do it the same way they do it.
Tonight on 20/20 you can apparently apparently hear more about Troopergate and the book-banning rumors -- which Palin denies, calling them an "old wives' tale." (Hey, isn't that kind of a sexist term?)
You can read extended excerpts from the interview on ABC's website.