Oprah and Sarah Palin's First Meeting
Oprah says the supposed snubbing was actually just an attempt to keep her show separate from her public support for a candidate as a private citizen. "Because of that, I had made a decision not to have any of the candidates on my show during the campaign," she says. "So for the record, I just want to say that Sarah Palin never asked ... to be on the show."
Now that the campaign's long over, all bets are off. Palin is opening up about her family, her future, her decision to step down as Alaska's governor and what went wrong during the election.
When she got the phone call from Senator McCain, Palin says she had no hesitation before saying yes. "I didn't blink," she says. "I felt quite confident in my abilities and my executive experience, knowing that this is an executive administrative job."
After that phone call, Palin flew to Arizona to meet with Sen. McCain and start the vetting process. "It went on for hours through that evening," she says. "I thought after all that, 'Wow, I better confess it now. The one skeleton that is in my closet.' By then, you know, they already knew about [my daughter] Bristol being pregnant. I said, 'The one skeleton that I have to confess to is I did [get] a D 22 years ago in a college course.' And I thought that was going to be the extent of the controversy of Sarah Palin's life."
When the news of Bristol's pregnancy first broke, Palin says she tried to send that very message, but the message was rewritten and she and her husband were painted to be doting soon-to-be grandparents. "Just a little bit of an indication of problems to come about what I would be able to say and how I would be able to speak or not speak my heart and my values and seize opportunities to communicate better," she says.
Bristol called her mother when she saw her pregnancy on the news, Palin says. "She was quite devastated and, perfectly honestly, she was quite embarrassed," she says. "She called me in tears saying 'Oh, mom, now not just [in] Wasilla do they know what's going on in my life. Now the whole world knows.'"
Sen. McCain did warn Palin that the campaign would be hard on the family, Palin says. "I said: 'You know what? No doubt it is, because I've been in elected office for a decade and a half. The kids have grown up with that.' Of course, though, not knowing how intriguing it would be for some of the haters, for some of the critics, to really delve into our personal life and make more of some of the issues than actually were there."
Palin says she was glad when then-Sen. Barack Obama spoke out to say their kids were off-limits. Still, she says she doesn't think her family got the same treatment as the Obamas. "I wasn't given that privilege of being able to protect my kids, my family. I think there was a little bit of a double...not a little bit, there was a double standard," she says. "There were some times that [Obama] was asked about the treatment of the Palin kids and, yes, he came to our defense and I so respect that."
Palin's clothes, and the fact that some pieces of her wardrobe were bought for her, also became a point of focus and controversy during the campaign. "I thought: 'Good. I don't like to shop,'" she says. "'That's going to be one less thing for me to worry about.' Never thinking it was going to be a big controversy, because it wasn't a controversy with other candidates—where did they get their clothes and who's styling their hair and all that. ... I think the male candidates have it a little bit easier in that arena."
Palin says she does not think the outcome of the election would have necessarily been different had her role been less scripted. "I think the reason that we lost, the economy tanked under a Republican administration. People were sincerely looking for change," she says. "I think, unfortunately, our ticket represented what was perceived as status quo. And so I don't think that I was to blame for losing the race any more than I could be credited with winning the race had I done a better job as the VP candidate."
Palin says she believes Couric did not intend to paint her in a good light or let her gaffes go unnoticed. "She had just interviewed Joe Biden and he had made mistakes, but those were dismissed. They were ignored, and she moved on to talk about very substantial issues, and I wish that I would have been given that."
One of the most news-making moments of that interview was when Couric asked Palin about the books and magazines she reads and Palin didn't give an answer. "Obviously, I have, of course, all my life read. I'm a lover of books and magazines and newspapers. By the time she asked me that question, even though it was kind of early on in the interview, I was already so annoyed and it was very unprofessional of me to wear that annoyance on my sleeve," she says. "I talk a lot about the Katie Couric interview in the book because I want the transcript to speak for itself. To show that she asked me 12 different times my position on abortion and the morning-after pill. She did not want, I guess, to hear my first candid, truthful response about being pro-life and wanting to usher in a culture of life and empower women to know that they were strong enough and smart enough to have that child."
Palin says telling Todd that their fifth child was going to have Down syndrome was a hard conversation to have. "I said the baby has an extra chromosome. The baby will be born with Down syndrome," she sasy. "And Todd's reaction was, he probably had a better reaction than I did when I first heard the news. I was much more frightened, I think, than he. He said, 'Okay, it's going to be okay.'"
Palin says her daughter Bristol is in school and raising Tripp full time. "Bristol realizes, too, that she has it easier than a lot of other 19-year-old mothers," Palin says. "She has a lot of family support. But she is doing an amazing job, and her only public mission right now is to remind her sisters and to remind other young women, her peers, that there are consequences to unprotected sex."
Palin says so much of performing both roles is about balance. "I am a believer in making the choices that are appropriate for you at the time depending on how you can most efficiently use your time and what your support system is around you," she says.
One of the most vital contributors to that support system is her husband, who Palin says picks up the slack when she can't do everything at once. "There's a lot of equality in our marriage. We don't bicker and fight over who's going to do the dishes or pick up a kid or do what needs to be done. We both just pick up and get the work done, and it's a great partnership."
Palin says she can better serve Alaskans by fighting for their needs on a different plane. "I'm going to get out there, and I'm going to fight for Alaska's issues ... as an ordinary citizen without having to worry that everything that I were to say would result in another lawsuit or ethics violation charge."
As for Palin's future, there has been plenty of buzz that she's gearing up for a 2012 presidential campaign. "I'm concentrating on 2010 and making sure that we have issues tackled as Americans to make sure that we're on the right road," she says.
"I don't know what I'm going to be doing in 2012."
Another rumor is that Palin will be getting her own talk show. So does Oprah have some new competition to worry about? "Oprah, you're the queen of talk shows. There's nothing to ever worry about," Palin says.