CBS News anchor Katie Couric spent much of Sept. 29 behind the scenes of the McCain-Palin campaign speaking with Sen. John McCain and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. This is an unedited transcript of the interview portions broadcast on Sept. 30.
Katie Couric: Do you consider yourself a feminist?
Sarah Palin: I do. I'm a feminist who believes in equal rights and I believe that women certainly today have every opportunity that a man has to succeed and to try to do it all anyway. And I'm very, very thankful that I've been brought up in a family where gender hasn't been an issue. You know, I've been expected to do everything growing up that the boys were doing. We were out chopping wood and you're out hunting and fishing and filling our freezer with good wild Alaskan game to feed our family. So it kinda started with that. With just that expectation that the boys and the girls in my community were expected to do the same and accomplish the same. That's just been instilled in me.
Couric: What is your definition of a feminist?
Palin: Someone who believes in equal rights. Someone who would not stand for oppression against women.
Couric: Where do you stand on the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act?
Palin: I'm absolutely for equal pay for equal work. The Ledbetter pay act - it was gonna turn into a boon for trial lawyers who, I believe, could have taken advantage of women who were many, many years ago who would allege some kind of discrimination. Thankfully, there are laws on the books, there have been since 1963, that no woman could be discriminated against in the workplace in terms of anything, but especially in terms of pay. So, thankfully we have the laws on the books and they better be enforced.
Couric: The Ledbetter act sort of lengthens the time a woman can sue her company if she's not getting equal pay for equal work. Why should a fear of lawsuits trump a woman's ability to do something about the fact that women make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. And that's today.
Palin: There should be no fear of a lawsuit prohibiting a woman from making sure that the laws that are on the books today are enforced. I know in a McCain-Palin administration we will not stand for any measure that would result in a woman being paid less than a man for equal work.
Couric: Why shouldn't the Ledbetter act be in place? You think it would result in lawsuits brought by women years and years ago. Is that your main problem with it?
Palin: It would have turned into a boon for trial lawyers. Again, thankfully with the existing laws we have on the books, they better be enforced. We won't stand for anything but that. We won't stand for any discrimination in the workplace - that there isn't any discrimination in America.
Couric: Do you think the coverage of you been sexist?
Palin: No. I don't. It's obvious there are some double standards here. You know, in terms of what the media has been doing. But I think that's more attributable to the Washington media elite not knowing who I am and just asking a whole lot of questions. Not so much based on gender, though. But based on just the fact that I'm not part of the Washington herd.
Couric: Having said that, do you think it would be sexist not to question your credentials and your policy positions.
Palin: It would be sexist if the media were to hold back and not ask me about my experience, my vision, my principles, my values. You're right.
Couric: If that's the case, why haven't you been more accessible to reporters?
Palin: I am so happy to talk to reporters. My life is an open book, happy to do it and very happy for more opportunities to do so.
Couric: Have you been pushing the campaign to sort of "Free Sarah Palin?"
Palin: The campaign knows that I am an open book. I mean, obviously is out there for God and everyone to judge my voting record, actions that I've taken as an administrator, as an executive, as a business owner, as a mom. My record is out there and my life is out there.
Couric: But having said that, reporters out there are extremely frustrated, as I'm sure you know, that they haven't been able to talk to you more, question you more, challenge you more on certain things.
Palin: I think this may be a little bit more about a campaign of reform, where just because maybe someone in the media elite hasn't had the access that maybe they're demanding, because we're running the campaign the way that we believe will best result in a good result for America - and that is a victory for John McCain. And maybe some are kind of put off by that. But that's all part of no more politics as usual; no more business as usual. I'm out there talking to the American people, those who I so dearly love and care about. I'm talking to them in these rallies that are attracting 20 - 30,000-plus people. I'm doing these rope-lines. I'm talking to every individual American that I can, in every hour that I have in my day. That's who I will be serving, that's who I'm connecting with today.
Couric: Governor Palin, almost every expert say it will take about ten years for domestic drilling to have an impact on consumers. So isn't the notion of "drill, baby, drill" a little misleading to people who think this will automatically lower their gas prices and quickly?
Palin: And it's why we should have started ten years ago tapping into domestic supplies that America is so rich in. Alaska has billions of barrels of oil and hundreds of trillions of cubic feet of clean, green natural gas onshore and offshore. Should have started doing it ten years ago but better late than never. We need to make sure that our nation's taking those steps to become energy independent.
Of course, ramping up supplies domestically is a key to that. But so is weaning ourselves off the hydrocarbons. We have got to get on board with the alternative fuel. John McCain has some great plans there. Also tapping into the nuclear, the clean coal to biomass, geothermal, tides, waves, all those things that we have as alternative energy sources, it's gotta be an all-of-the-above approach to energy independence. We cannot keep going down the road that we're going on now. And that's circulating nearly $700 billion, American dollars, into other countries, ramping up, boosting up their economy, decimating our own, not when we have the solution here domestically.
Couric: And we'll talk about alternative sources in a moment.
John McCain: Could I just mention one other thing about this. I disagree with the 10-year figure. I talked to the independent petroleum producers who said, "Look, we can do some of this in a matter of months. We can do a lot more of it … in a matter of just a short period of time." And it's …
Couric: Don't they have a vested interest in saying that, though, Senator?
McCain: Well, they have the capability. And I don't think they're not telling the truth. I mean, they're the ones who are out there doing it. But I agree … with Governor Palin. What's the moral of this story? We should have done it a long time ago. But the point is that it also does have an effect on the futures, on the price of a barrel of oil. And many disagree with that. But I know that when they think that there's, when anybody market forces believe there's gonna be an increase in the supply then obviously the price of that commodity goes down, whether it's oil or any other supply and demand situation. And finally one other thing: India and China are drawing on basically a finite resource in the world. So we may have an additional supply to help us bridge between our dependence on oil and natural particularly oil … and the future, which is alternate energy.
Couric: Gov. Palin, I know you'd like to see drilling take place in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. And Sen. McCain, you oppose this. You call it, quote, "one of the most pristine and beautiful parts of the world."
McCain: Uh huh.
Couric: Who's right?
McCain: Did you expect two mavericks to agree on - (laughter) to agree on everything? Look, I … we just have, we'll be talking more and more about this issue. We do agree on the off-shore drilling and other means of limiting our dependence on foreign oil. But for us to agree on everything would make us, I think, a little boring. You can … say a lot about us, but we're anything but boring.
Couric: Who's gonna cave on this issue?
Palin: I don't think there's any need to characterize anything as caving. We'll continue to work together on this issue. And that issue is domestic supplies of energy being tapped, flowing into very, very, very hungry markets across our U.S. And we are on the same page there in seeking solutions to reach that goal.
Couric: At peak production, governor …
McCain: I wanna go and moose-hunt with her. And then we can, maybe we can have a look.
Couric: Experts say it'll take almost 20 years and it would …to achieve peak production … in ANWR. And it would still only cut foreign oil dependence by about two percent and only for a little while … so is it really worth …
Palin: Yeah, I don't know who the …
Couric: The risk?
Palin: …experts are who say that it would take 20 years. As the governor of an energy-producing state, we're supplying 16, 17 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of energy coming from my state. And as the former chairman of the Interstate Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, the geologists, the petroleum engineers whom I speak with are saying it can be done a lot quicker than 20 years from now. And, remember ANWR is a 2,000-acre plot that's in the midst of 21 million acres. That's not where the supply of domestic energy sources is, though, necessarily. I mean, that's not the be-all, end-all. Offshore is where the supply of energy is. And we'll tap into that.