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Transcript of Roll Call Interview With Palin

The following are excerpts from an interview with Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) on Aug. 14 in her Anchorage office. About two weeks later, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) picked Palin to be his vice presidential running mate.

Roll Call: What role did you play in encouraging your lieutenant governor, Sean Parnell (R), to challenge longtime Rep. Don Young (R) in the GOP primary?

Gov. Sarah Palin: I told him right off the bat, ‘Oh my goodness, the nation needs you. You would be a perfect fit in Congress and you would be great for Alaska,’ and great for his administration for him to be more fully utilized as a partner on the federal level for the state of Alaska.”

RC: How would you describe your relationship with the Congressional delegation? For example, when did you last speak with Sen. Ted Stevens (R)?

Palin: Just the other day. … We have a respectful relationship. We’re from different generations of course, obviously different levels of experience, but I have respect for his contributions to this state.

Congressman Young, who I find quite abrasive, [is] someone who exercises a different manner of conducting himself and his politics.

I don’t remember the last time [I talked to Young]. It was a restaurant in Fairbanks a couple weeks ago with seven members of Congress, including [House Minority Leader John] Boehner [R-Ohio] and others who were up visiting the ANWR plain. So they stopped in Fairbanks and I had dinner with them. Don Young walked into the restaurant … and walked right past us and didn’t say hello. His wife did come over and speak with us, which was very nice and cordial, but he did not. It kind of took me aback because these are his colleagues in Congress and they’re all the way up here in Alaska.

RC: Do you think Rep. Young does a poor job as a Member of Congress?

Palin: I think that he has served the state for many years and I do respect his years of service, but I do believe it’s time for a new ideas and new energy to be representing Alaska.

I believe that in our Congressional seat, also, it’s time for a very diplomatic, progressive approach to dealing with the challenges here in Alaska on a federal level. And also for Alaska to really start growing up and growing together and this is a good time for Sean Parnell to be running also. This is the 50th anniversary of statehood. And for me and for Sean, it’s time for our state to be allowed to produce more and contribute to the rest of the U.S. instead of being seen as takers from the federal government, because for so long we have been reliant on the federal government to pay our bills.

RC: Have you ever met John McCain?

Palin: I have. At a Republican Governors Association meeting, I don’t know how long ago, while I was a candidate [in 2006]. Sen. McCain had two different meetings and I met his wife.

RC: What do you think the possibility is of you being picked for the vice presidential ticket?

Palin: You know, I just think that’s so far out of the realm of possibility. I think, OK, I’m a hockey mom from Alaska and I’m very passionate about the need for our nation to become energy independent and for our nation to become more secure, and that’s going to be based on domestic supplies of energy being tapped. I do believe that Alaska, we can be the leader of energy policy — and energy policy has been sorely lacking in our nation. And I can think I can do that as governor. So, when I consider this out of the realm of possibility, hypothetical about ever being tapped for vice president, I don’t spend a whole lot of time thinking about it. I spend my time thinking about what Alaska can do to contribute. How can we produce? We’re ready to produce.

RC: Have you been vetted by the national party?

Palin: [T]raditionally a potential candidate goes through their state party to be vetted and have the information passed on. Our party chairman … the machine within the state Republican Party … we don’t have that kind of relationship where they would pass on any good information to McCain or the national GOP. I just acknowledge that and that’s fine.

[The national GOP has asked for old speeches] and that’s been kind of recent. But other than that, I don’t know anything about how they’re doing anything.

RC: Who has asked for your old speeches?

Palin: Those who are putting on the GOP convention, or the RNC. But, no, I wouldn’t consider that any kind of official vetting. So, again, more evidence of this out of the realm of possibility.

RC: Will you endorse Young?

Palin: I don’t think Don Young wants my endorsement. I believe that … as he expressed his dislike for our administration, I can’t imagine he would seek the endorsement, so no need to offer it up without it being accepted.

RC: Do you think you will endorse Ted Stevens?

Palin: I haven’t talked to Ted [about] endorsements or anything else yet. Everybody is still kind of waiting to see what happens with Sen. Stevens and the FBI probe into some of the issues he’s dealing with now. Certainly if there were a manifestation of even more legal problems, that being through the trial that he will go through, it wouldn’t be wise of anybody to endorse anyone who is not going to be able to serve. But he is innocent until proven guilty, so I’m holding off on that.

RC: Your so-called partner in your administration, Lt. Gov. Parnell, said Aug. 13 that he thought Alaska was ahead of the rest of the country by two years by electing a change ticket. What do you think of that?

Palin: We happened to fetch on an idea, a demographic, that I think was being sought by Alaskans: new blood, new faces, not any kind of good-old-boy network. … This acceptance of a status quo in state government and this acceptance of turning a blind eye to some of the undue influence by some of the oil industry players.

And interesting, that’s what we see Barack, of course, campaigning on, which is intriguing to Alaskans and for the first time in decades, the Democratic presidential candidate is doing very well in polls in Alaska. This being such a red state, but yet Barack is doing well because his message is resonating very well in Alaska, as it is in the rest of the U.S.

RC: But, after all that, do you support Sen. John McCain?

Palin: McCain is on the right path with energy policy. … We need a sound energy policy in this nation, especially as we are in a war and we are too reliant on foreign sources of energy.

Sen. McCain, I believe, will make wiser decision on how to tap those domestic supplies of energy than Barack.

RC: But what about Sen. McCain voting against the bill that included a provision to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to explore drilling?

Palin: [Cites news clip that she says shows McCain is open to some oil exploration in Alaska.] That’s encouraging to hear that Sen. McCain could even grasp the need to plug in all these different parts of the major solution that need to be found to get us out of the energy crisis that we’re in.”

RC: Why is there such a schism in the Alaska Republican Party? Why is your administration at odds against every other Republican official in the state?

Palin: I think it’s going to take a little while for the hierarchy in the party [to realize] that it was a sincere desire on Alaskans part to see change. … I think there’s still that reluctance to accept that change is here. … It’s always been assumed that they’re in there forever and nobody’s ever going to challenge them.

When I look every day, the big oil company’s building is right out there next to me and it’s quite a reminder that we should have mutual beneficial relationships with the oil industry. Alaska should not be taken advantage of by the oil industry, so in protecting Alaskans’ rights as the resource owners, many in the hierarchy or the machinery of the Republican Party up here … are fighting that, every step of the way.”

RC: If in two years, Alaskans have the potential to change over the governor, lieutenant governor, both Senators and the at-large House seat. What do you think that says about Alaska voters?

Palin: I don’t think we’ve even thought of it at that level. That would be, politically speaking, equivalent to that ’64 earthquake up here.

Well, for too many years we have been reliant on the federal government. But the feds now, Congress, the Senate, they have got to allow us to live up to our end of the bargain. They have got to unlock our land.”