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Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin Accepts GOP Nomination

StorySeptember 04, 2008
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Shannyn Moore

radio talk show host in Anchorage who closely follows Alaska politics.

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin accepted the Republican vice-presidential nomination last night in front of a roaring crowd at the Xcel Center. Many view McCain’s selection of Palin as a nod to the evangelical right. We speak to Shannyn Moore, an Anchorage-based radio talk show host who closely follows Alaska politics. [includes rush transcript]

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re broadcasting from Saint Paul Neighborhood Network, here in St. Paul, Minnesota, where Alaska Governor Sarah Palin accepted the Republican vice-presidential nomination last night in front of a roaring crowd at the Xcel Center. Making her prime-time TV debut, Palin defended her relative lack of political experience, in part by making light of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s time as a community organizer in Chicago.

    GOV. SARAH PALIN: Before I became governor of the great State of Alaska, I was mayor of my hometown. And since our opponents in this presidential election seem to look down on that experience, let me explain to them what the job involves. I guess — I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities.

AMY GOODMAN: Palin went on to present herself as a reformer during her nearly two years as Alaska governor.

    GOV. SARAH PALIN: Our state budget is under control. We have a surplus. And I have protected the taxpayers by vetoing wasteful spending, nearly half-a-billion dollars in vetoes. We suspended the state fuel tax and championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress. I told the Congress "Thanks, but no thanks" on that Bridge to Nowhere. If our state wanted to build a bridge, we were going to build it ourselves.

    When oil and gas prices went up dramatically and filled up the state treasury, I sent a large share of that revenue back where it belonged: directly to the people of Alaska.

    And despite fierce opposition from oil company lobbyists, who kind of liked things the way that they were, we broke their monopoly on power and resources. As governor, I insisted on competition and basic fairness to end their control of our state and return it to the people.

    I fought to bring about the largest private-sector infrastructure project in North American history. And when that deal was struck, we began a nearly $40 billion natural gas pipeline to help lead America to energy independence. That pipeline, when the last section is laid and its valves are opened, will lead America one step farther away from dependence on dangerous foreign powers that do not have our interests at heart.

    The stakes for our nation could not be higher. When a hurricane strikes in the Gulf of Mexico, this country should not be so dependent on imported oil that we’re forced to draw from our Strategic Petroleum Reserve. And families cannot throw more and more of their paychecks on gas and heating oil. With Russia wanting to control a vital pipeline in the Caucasus and to divide and intimidate our European allies by using energy as a weapon, we cannot leave ourselves at the mercy of foreign suppliers.

    To confront the threat that Iran might seek to cut off nearly a fifth of the world’s energy supplies or that terrorists might strike again at the Abqaiq facility in Saudi Arabia or that Venezuela might shut off its oil discoveries and its deliveries of that source, Americans, we need to produce more of our own oil and gas. And take it from a gal who knows the North Slope of Alaska, we’ve got lots of both.

    Our opponents say again and again that drilling will not solve all of America’s energy problems, as if we didn’t know that already. But the fact — the fact that drilling, though, won’t solve every problem is no excuse to do nothing at all. Starting in January, in a McCain-Palin administration, we’re going to lay more pipelines and build more nuclear plants and create jobs with clean coal and move forward on solar, wind, geothermal and other alternative sources.

AMY GOODMAN: Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin, addressing the convention floor last night at the Xcel Center, Palin’s speech highly anticipated ever since she burst on the national stage last week following Senator John McCain’s announcement of her as his running mate.

Since then, a number of revelations regarding her public and personal life have come to light. On Monday, Palin announced her unmarried seventeen-year-old daughter Bristol was five months pregnant. She also recently hired a private lawyer to represent her in a state investigation into her firing of the state’s public safety commissioner.

Many view McCain’s selection of Palin as his reaching out to the evangelical right. She’s a prominent member of Feminists for Life, has described herself as pro-life as any candidate can be.

For more, we’re joined on the telephone from Anchorage by Shannyn Moore, a local radio talk show host, who closely follows Alaska politics. Welcome to Democracy Now!, Shannyn.


Good morning, Amy.


Can you just give us a thumbnail sketch of — well, of the career of Sarah Palin. And also, first respond to her speech. What did you think?


Well, I actually blogged about this last night. I thought perhaps I finally understood how it was for uber-conservative African Americans to watch Barack Obama give a speech. I thought I didn’t recognize some of the Sarah Palin that I’ve known for quite some time. But at the same time, there at times were — the sort of bulldog in this and this tenacity showed through, and certainly sometimes this sort of sweetness. But the snarkiness and the sarcasm, I didn’t recognize. Sarah doesn’t campaign like she did last night, but she’s not in Alaska anymore, either.


Can you talk about her record, both from being — how she came to be mayor of Wasilla and what Wasilla is like in Alaska and then her rise to the governorship?


Well, Wasilla is twice as big as a town that I grew up in. It’s not considered a small town in Alaska. It has stoplights, for God’s sakes. You know, it’s a metropolis on the scale of Alaska towns. You know, she was raised there by public school teachers and, you know, just had sort of this — what I think is normal.


Thousand people?


I grew up in rural, small-town Alaska. And she, you know, went through the ranks there, city council, and became mayor. And, you know, her record is pretty clear. And there are some people that are, you know, sort of pointing out, wow, well, when Sarah became the mayor of Wasilla, we didn’t have a budget. And then she pushed through some projects that were, you know, pretty irresponsible. And when she left, they were at a $22 million budget deficit. So that happened in a six-year time under her mayorialship, and that’s a large budget for a town, you know, as small as Wasilla.


I was just looking at a New York Times piece, “Palin’s Start in Alaska: Not Politics as Usual.” Wasilla, about, what, 7,000, 8,000 people. And it says, “Shortly after becoming mayor, former city officials and Wasilla residents said, Ms. Palin approached the town librarian about the possibility of banning some books, though she never followed through and it was unclear which books or passages were in question.”

“The librarian [...] pledged to ‘resist all efforts at censorship.’” Palin then fired Ms. Emmons shortly after taking office but changed course when residents made a strong show of support.


Yeah, that was — that wasn’t a statewide issue but certainly came up during the campaign with — when she was running for governor, and this whole censorship and this fundamentalism. I mean, when you’re running for mayor in a town in Alaska and one of your platform issues as a nonpartisan mayor is your pro-life stance, that tells you a lot about the town you’re in. And it is a pretty fundamentalist type of town, and — you know, and that plays very well in those towns. You know, this sort of censorship, this sort of “vote for me is a vote for Jesus,” it’s very George Bushian, and it’s very Sarah Palin.


I mean, there’s no question, being at the convention last night, every time the issue of abortion was mentioned, I think it got some of the loudest cheers from people all around. That went back to Wasilla, is that right, running for mayor with the anti-abortion fliers circulating?


Sure. And, you know, when she was campaigning for governor, which is when I started asking questions of her, I asked her — you know, sadly, Alaska is a state with the highest amount of incest, the highest amount of rape. This isn’t a statistic we’re proud of. We don’t — we’ve had studies done. Amnesty International certainly has done studies on the First People of Alaska and their statistics. I mean, it’s a devastating statistic.

So I asked her, certainly, you know, “In the case of incest and rape, do you still hold this stance? Is this still something you want for Alaska?” And she said yes. And she said, even if it were her own daughter who was raped, she would still choose life.

And I think, you know, if she wants to choose that for her daughter in any instance of being pregnant, that’s OK with me. That’s something that their families, they have the resources, they can handle. But many families in Alaska do not have — do not have the adequate funds to raise an additional grandchild or deal with a twelve-year-old who has been raped by someone within their family. I mean, this isn’t all lollipop land up here, certainly. And, you know, the fact that she can take that really no-choice — it’s not even pro-life, it’s zero-choice — stance has always been, you know, something that she and I have talked about, but certainly not something that I want to see picking out Supreme Court justices.


I’m looking at Sarah Palin’s record on the war. Speaking in Wasilla at the Assembly of God Church in June — this is as governor — Palin said our leaders, our national leaders, are sending US soldiers out on a task that is from God.


Yeah. Doesn’t that — don’t you think you’ve heard that before, Amy? This is a very — you know, in the same speech, she talked about praying to bring the people of Alaska and companies together to build a pipeline, and we needed to pray for a pipeline; that was God’s will. I find this sort of fundamentalism — the thing is, about Sarah Palin, I don’t think that she does this to get votes. I think she’s the real deal. You know, she has a life similar to many Alaskans. She subsistence hunts. She fishes. All these things are very, very real. And this whole — she’s the real deal. And I think she really believes that she’s been chosen to be this onward Christian soldier. And we’ve had eight years of that.


Her son, though, is going to Iraq. While she said that when asked by the Alaska Business Monthly — this was over a year ago — “I’ve been so focused on state government, I haven’t really focused much on the war in Iraq.” Now, apparently on September 11th, her oldest son is going to head there. What do you know about that?


Well, it seems like — and this was pointed out last night — that’s actually when they’re having a deployment ceremony. So it’s sort of disingenuous, because that’s not when he’s actually leaving. I mean, he is being deployed, and, you know, God bless the troops, yadda yadda. But the truth be told, that’s when there’s a ceremony. That’s not when they’re being deployed. And it’s illegal to tell when any outfit is being deployed. You know, those are sort of kept secret for some reason.


And her son, his commitment to going to war with Iraq? His decision?


You know, I don’t live at their house. Certainly, I can tell you that in small-town Alaska, rumors abound. And this isn’t any other case from that. And I know people in the media in Alaska who have known of Bristol Palin’s pregnancy for, you know, over a month and didn’t bring it into the press, because they didn’t think it was any of their business. And certainly there have been rumors abounding regarding Trig and his — whether it was a decision or avoidance of some sort of “how to get out of trouble” card. You know, I don’t have anything to verify that, but that’s certainly the small-town rumor that’s gone about.


Let’s talk for a minute about Governor Palin’s support for the Bridge to Nowhere. In both her first speech, when she stood with John McCain, when everyone was so surprised that he had nominated her, she made a big point of saying that she did not support the Bridge to Nowhere. She said she had said to Congress, "Thanks, but no thanks." But it turns out now that she had supported this bridge. Can you, first of all, explain where this bridge is and what her record is on it?


Well, it’s in southeast Alaska. It’s near — it basically connects an island — Gravina Island, I believe — to the mainland there. And it’s — you know, there’s very few residents there. And what people haven’t understood, I think, about Alaskans is a lot of us live in remote areas or have lived in remote areas — I certainly have — where you could only get there by floatplane or boat, by choice. I didn’t live there hoping they would build a bridge at some point.

And so, when Don Young was earmarking all of these sort of projects, and Ted Stevens, as well, you know, it was about the project. It was about getting the funds. Regardless of if it was — if it had local support or not, they were really trying to bring those things in. And it does bring money to the state. And they’ve brought a whole lot of money to the state. But initially, Sarah thought, you know, any of those projects were good. In fact, when she was mayor of Wasilla, she had more requests for earmarks than anybody. I mean, it was just remarkable how many she requested. That was a good idea for her as a mayor.

But this Bridge to Nowhere, basically what happened was they said, “Well, you know, you’re going to have to pay for part of it.: And then, at that point, it was like, well, forget about it. If we want to build it, we’ll build it. But, you know, we weren’t going to cough up the money to match it. And so — and it wasn’t even a match; it was considerably less.

So that is an issue that, you know, I was really, really surprised when she brought that up. I was really surprised when she said that she stood up to big oil. She has, in some respects, by raising a tax on them, but at the same time, she’s suing the federal government over polar bears being on the endangered species list. I have the feeling that if George Bush has listed an animal on the endangered species list, it’s probably too late. But, you know, in doing that, she’s ensuring that the oil companies can continue to drill. Her lieutenant governor is a former oil lobbyist. So, you know, the whole idea of maverick, it’s so easily debunked in Alaska. All you have to be to be a maverick who’s a Republican is not going to jail or being indicted or having your home searched like Ted Stevens’ was.


Well, let’s talk about indictments and her relationship. It has been portrayed nationally here as one where she was critical of her own party, broke ranks with Ted Stevens, the senator, his congressman son, Don Young. Then it turned out she was head of a 527 committee for Ted Stevens. Shannyn, can you explain?


I can, but I will tell you that I completely attribute her winning the election to two things. One was that Frank Murkowski was absolutely a miserable governor and went from being, you know, elected several times as a senator to being elected as governor and then losing in the primary to Sarah Palin. He only got 19 percent of the vote as an incumbent who had served Alaska for, you know, many decades. That was part of his sort of — his sort of charm, let’s just say, that wore off. He bought a jet that, you know, the legislature had told him not to. He went ahead and did it anyway. And that was mentioned last night in Sarah’s speech, that she put it on eBay. And I would say that the state lost $600,000, I believe was the amount by the time that was done. It didn’t sell on eBay, by the way. She did list it.

And the other thing was, Ted Stevens swooped in in the last several days of the election, like the very crucial time, and said, “I’m not going to be able to open ANWR if Sarah Palin isn’t governor,” and did all these ad campaigns, just this media blitz of Ted Stevens in the last couple days. Ted Stevens helped her secure her election, very much so, and said, “You know, I’ve worked with Sarah before, and I need her in Juneau to help me in Washington to open ANWR.” And that is the carrot for so many people here. But she did in 2003 work in a 527 group that raised, you know, huge funds from corporate donors for Ted Stevens, and it was called the Ted Stevens Excellence in Public Service Inc., which is remarkable now looking at his seven indictments. But she served as one of three directors under his — under this sort of flag of collecting money from corporate interests.


Finally, Shannyn Moore, the issue of Troopergate and where it’s going from here, the issue of firing the public safety commissioner of Alaska, who refused to get rid of a state trooper who was married to Sarah Palin’s younger sister?


Yeah, that’s been a really interesting case. My understanding is — well, I actually interviewed her right after this whole story broke. And at that time, she said that she didn’t know of any pressuring. Certainly, after that, there were several dozen phone calls that were released. And when asked on the air about how did she feel when she first heard the tape of Frank Bailey speaking to one of the troopers about her and her relationship with Monegan and getting rid of trooper Wooten, she —- we asked her what her first thought was, and her response was, “Wow! I didn’t know that they tape their phone calls.” So, that was, I think, kind of indicative of the surprise that it was that this might actually become something. And -—


Explain who Bailey was.


—- Hollis French, who’s a senator here, you know, he’s a Democrat, but he wasn’t -— he wasn’t the one that insisted on this. The people that brought this investigation out and the people that continue to hate Sarah Palin are the hardcore, old-guard Republicans. And the people in her own party are the ones that asked for this investigation. And at the time, she said, “You know, I’ve got nothing to hide. Bring it on.” And so, they did say, “OK, well, we’ll do this investigation.” Now she’s hired an attorney, but she didn’t hire the — she’s not paying for the attorney; the state is paying for the attorney. And that’s becoming an issue for some people here.


Shannyn Moore, I want to thank you for being with us, radio talk show host in Anchorage, Alaska, talking about the record of Governor Sarah Palin, now the Republican vice-presidential nominee.

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