NBC "Today" - Transcript
NBC "Today" Interview With Alaska Governor Sarah Palin
Interviewer: Matt Lauer
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MR. LAUER: And now to our exclusive interview with Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. She is in Texas this morning discussing a $26 billion energy project that she's championed for her home state. She's here to talk about that and some other headlines she's been involved with in recent weeks.
Governor Palin, it's nice to see you. Good morning.
GOV. PALIN: Hey, thank you so much. Thanks for having me.
MR. LAUER: Let's talk about this project, because it's huge -- $26 billion. It's a natural gas pipeline that would connect Alaska to Canada and then to the contiguous 48 states. It's far from a done deal; I think we need to say that. And some have said this has been talked about a lot in the past and it hasn't come to fruition.
Why do you think you can get it built now?
GOV. PALIN: It's been talked a lot about in the past decades in Alaska, the need to commercialize our rich natural gas resources from the North Slope, flow them into these very hungry markets throughout North America.
Finally, though, we have a vehicle called AGIA, the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act, that can provide for the private sector enough incentives and enough protections for the resource owners -- that's the people of Alaska -- to actually see the thing come to fruition.
The nice thing about the step that was taken yesterday is the largest company in the world, Exxon, has aligned with TransCanada. TransCanada Alaska is the world's best pipeline-building company, too; companies like that, world-class, with the experience and financial backing needed, to actually see the project come to fruition. It's going to happen. And we're very excited about this development.
MR. LAUER: While you're excited, some people have had a cooler response. Mike Hawker -- and I know you know this name; he's the Republican co-chairman of the committee in Alaska, or the legislature, that writes the budget -- he was asked for his opinion of the announcement and he said, quote, "My take is what's going on here is a completely overblown media circus, that the announcement is long on ambition and short on details."
Would you like to respond to that?
GOV. PALIN: Well, that representative, along with most of the legislators in Alaska, voted very enthusiastically for AGIA to make sure that Alaska's gas would be commercialized, with the protections for the resource owners. Hawker was one who supported it. He still supports it. It's politics, Matt. And coming up here on an election year, I think a lot of the folks are positioning themselves for future runs for things --
MR. LAUER: Right.
GOV. PALIN: -- and so they have to say some things like that.
MR. LAUER: Well, but, Governor, even The Wall Street Journal questions whether we actually need this pipeline, saying that North America is in the midst of a natural gas glut right now that's driven down prices, and saying future imports are expected to be higher as some overseas producers dump their product on the U.S. market. So do we really need the pipeline?
GOV. PALIN: Absolutely short-sighted for anyone to think that we don't need this pipeline and that we don't need to flow our clean- burning natural gas from Alaska, domestic supply, into North American markets -- absolutely shortsighted.
Yep, we need that resource; much better than the alternative, and that is for America to continue to rely on foreign sources of energy to fuel our economy and heat our homes and run our businesses, reliant on foreign sources that are controlled in some cases by regimes that are volatile, dangerous, don't like America. I'd much rather see the jobs and the economic boost be provided to America. And here in Alaska, we're in a position to be able to contribute to the U.S. economy and to national security issues --
MR. LAUER: Right.
GOV. PALIN: -- by flowing our very rich sources of energy into these markets.
MR. LAUER: We will be following this project along, Governor, and we thank you for talking about it.
Can we talk about some of the other ways you've been in the news lately? And you know about this. There's been this feud this week with "Late Show" host David --
GOV. PALIN: If we must.
MR. LAUER: Oh, I know. But there's been a feud this week with David Letterman over some comments he made about your family, some jokes about your daughter in particular. I'm just curious. How did you hear about the comments and the jokes? Were you watching, or did someone tell you about them?
GOV. PALIN: No, the next day I had an interview with John Ziegler on his new radio show, and he asked me about a comment that Letterman had made regarding my appearance as a slutty flight attendant. And my first thought was, "Hey, don't disparage flight attendants. They work hard. We love them. How condemning of them. Don't say such a thing."
And then I found out later that -- the comment that was made about statutory rape of my 14-year-old daughter Willow, knowing that crossed the line, and then others chiming in, other comments that Letterman has made; just, you know, quite, I think, a sad commentary on where we are as a culture, as a society, to chuckle and laugh through comments such as he had made the other night. I think it's quite unfortunate.
MR. LAUER: Since David Letterman's here, let me just say that he did not mention Willow by name, and he then went on to say he was not referring to your 14-year-old daughter. I do want to read this statement that you released --
GOV. PALIN: And Matt? And Matt?
MR. LAUER: Go ahead.
GOV. PALIN: Okay, Matt, I would say that you and anybody else are extremely naive to believe that very convenient excuse of David Letterman's the other day. It took a couple of days for him to think of that excuse that, uh, no, he wasn't talking about my daughter who was there with me at the game, the 14-year-old. He was talking about some other daughter. Well, I think it's a weak excuse.
And, you know, regardless, it was a degrading comment about a young woman. And I would hope that people really start -- really rising up and deciding it's not acceptable. No wonder young girls especially have such low self-esteem in America when we think that it's funny for a so-called comedian to get away with being able to make such a remark as he did --
MR. LAUER: You issued a statement --
GOV. PALIN: -- and to think that that's acceptable.
MR. LAUER: Governor, at the end of your statement, you said that "A joke like this contributes to the atrociously high rate of sexual exploitation of minors by older men who use and abuse others."
GOV. PALIN: Yep.
MR. LAUER: Now, it was a joke. It was probably, by most standards, in bad taste.
But can you really connect the dots to criminal activity the way you did in that statement?
GOV. PALIN: I connect the dots to a degrading statement made about young women, and that does contribute to some acceptance of abuse of young women. Let me read to you something that I received in the middle of the night, an e-mail from somebody who's not a known feminist, not someone who is an activist, but this, I think, speaks to this issue.
This person wrote that, hey, the women organizations across America, they are starting to rise up and say, "Enough is enough," and that was a ridiculous comment. And, yeah, it was a so-called joke, but it wasn't funny.
This e-mail says, "Every male organization, civic, religious, et cetera, should rise up and shout in defense of their daughters, their sisters, their mothers. We're in a position to encourage the whole country to take a stand against the disrespect shown to females. No wonder girls have such low self-esteem when people laugh at the innuendoes and downright crudeness of comments made to and about them. Shame on all of us --
MR. LAUER: When you --
GOV. PALIN: -- if we haven't had the nerve to walk out or at least boo when a so-called comedian makes such a comment."
MR. LAUER: When you were asked if you might appear on David Letterman's show to hash all this out, your spokesperson issued a statement and said, "The Palins have no intention of providing a ratings boost for David Letterman by appearing on his show, plus it would be wise to keep Willow away from David Letterman."
I'd like you to explain what that meant. Are you suggesting that David Letterman can't be trusted around a 14-year-old girl?
GOV. PALIN: Hey, take it however you want to take it. It is a comment that came from the heart that Willow no doubt would want to stay away from David Letterman after he made such a comment. And you can interpret that however you want to interpret it.
MR. LAUER: Well, but is that not perhaps in bad taste also, Governor, if you're, you know, suggesting that a 62-year-old man --
GOV. PALIN: No, it's not in bad taste.
MR. LAUER: -- couldn't be trusted?
GOV. PALIN: It's not in bad taste. Hey, maybe he couldn't be trusted because Willow's had enough of this type of comments, and maybe Willow would want to react to him in a way that maybe would catch him off-guard. That's one way to interpret such a comment.
MR. LAUER: He's tried to explain --
GOV. PALIN: But the problem is, it's not --
MR. LAUER: -- this. Does he owe you an apology?
GOV. PALIN: Here's the problem, Matt -- the double standard that has been applied here. One, let's talk politically the double standard. First, remember in the campaign, Barack Obama said, "Family's off-limits. You don't talk about my family." And the candidate who must be obeyed, everybody adhered to that and they did leave his family alone. They haven't done that on the other side of the ticket, and it has continued to this day. So that's a political double standard.
But, here again, the double standard when it comes to acceptance of a celebrity being able to get away with a disparaging comment that does erode a young girl's self-esteem and does contribute to some of the problems that we have in society. This so-called humor, I don't find it humorous. I think a lot of Americans don't think that it's --
MR. LAUER: And I would agree with that. And I'm not sure that you can be so easy to say that he's gotten away with it. I think he will pay some sort of a price for this, Governor, because I do think a lot of people feel the joke was in extremely bad taste, no matter which daughter of yours he was referring to. Does he owe you an apology, as opposed to just the explanation he's issued?
GOV. PALIN: He doesn't have to apologize to me. I would like to see him apologize to young women across the country for contributing to kind of that thread that is throughout our culture, that makes it sound like it's okay to talk about young girls in that away, where it's kind of okay, accepted and funny to talk about statutory rape.
MR. LAUER: Right.
GOV. PALIN: It's not cool. It's not funny.
MR. LAUER: Let me move on, then. And a lot has been made about the future of the Republican Party after a disappointing election and who's going to be the face of that party. Your name has been on a list with people like Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh and Dick Cheney. And it's very well understood that you perhaps are the biggest superstar when it comes to fund-raising in the party now. If people want to make money, they get you to an event; that event makes a lot of money.
Does that translate to you being the future of the GOP?
GOV. PALIN: No, absolutely not necessarily. You know, I want to help. I want to be able to help the cause. And the cause is to get Americans to remember that big government is not the answer. That's not the way that we're going to secure our nation and progress our nation and get our economy back on the right track.
And we're going to see a lot of manifestations, I believe, of actions that the federal government -- that it's taking right now that will actually hurt our economy and take away the private sector's and our families' opportunities to grow and progress and prosper, keep more of what we earn so that we can meet our own priorities instead of having federal government come in and meet priorities for us.
So, no, not necessarily me. I don't think I need any kind of title in order to effect change. I think there's a lot of agreement within the party --
MR. LAUER: Do you think you deserve a shot, based on --
GOV. PALIN: -- right now, though.
MR. LAUER: Based on what you brought to the last campaign, do you think you at least deserve the right of first refusal in terms of being the face of the party?
GOV. PALIN: Oh, heck, no. Nobody's entitled to that right of approval. There's no entitlement that's accepted, I believe, in our party. And that's another nice thing about the principles of the GOP. You know, you have to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. Your actions have to speak louder than words. Your accomplishments have to speak for what it is that you stand for. And, no, nobody's entitled to any kind of front-running position in the GOP.
MR. LAUER: Governor Sarah Palin. Governor, it's nice to see you again. I appreciate you stopping and spending some time with us this morning.
GOV. PALIN: Thank you so much. Have a great day.
MR. LAUER: You too.