When James Carville sat with Sarah Palin for a Politicon conversation on Sunday, he was polite. He praised her 2008 Republican National Convention speech. He even seemed to sympathize with her for being scapegoated in John McCain’s presidential campaign.
But then he challenged her on wanting to “take back the country,” a common Tea Party phrase that has morphed into Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again,” and their conversation quickly turned into a debate over gun control.
Carville, the Democratic strategist, said to the former vice presidential nominee: “When you say you want to take back the country, what is it you want to take back?”
“I want to take back the interpretation of our Constitution that is being wrongly interpreted today,” Palin said.
“Where are we going haywire on the Constitution?” he asked.
Palin’s response: the Second Amendment.
“It is black and white, and we have a right, of course, to bear arms,” she said. “People who can interpret that to, ‘Oh that means not everybody has that right.’ Or to take certain things like ammo, ‘Well that doesn’t apply.’ Or we can get rid of AR-15s because AR-15s weren’t invented for hunting. I say, ‘Yeah, the Second Amendment wasn’t written in the case the moose turn on us.’ Of course it wasn’t mean for hunting.”
Carville, though, pressed her further. “Do I have a right to possess a bazooka? Do I have the right to have a surface to air missile and live close to the Los Angeles Airport?”
“Well, that is such a stupid question,” Palin responded.
The Palin-Carville conversation was among a number of marquee events at Politicon, a gathering of political junkies with panels, standup comedy, film screenings and art displays at the Pasadena Convention Center.
Carville went on, “I was in the Marine Corps. I have guns. I grew up rural. Why do I need a 40-clip magazine?”
“Well, I hear what you are saying is — there are some firearms that you think should be outlawed assuming, and it is a wrong assumption, that the bad guys are going to follow any law and not have that firearm,” Palin said.
Palin had a number of supporters in the audience, which was standing room only at a meeting room at the Convention Center. But there were also many cheers as Carville tried to make his point.
“I was just asking the question, why do I need a 40-clip magazine rapid fire rifle?” Carville continued.
“You probably don’t in your area of New Orleans,” Palin responded.
“Where would I live and need one? I am not doing ‘gotcha.’ Actually real hunters, they don’t even hunt deer anymore with repeating rifles,” Carville said.
Palin answered. “It has nothing to do with hunting. It has to do with the constitutional right to protect yourself.”
She added that there “is an assumption that more laws on the books are going to wake up and convert a criminal, a bad guy, to all of the sudden wake up say, ‘I can’t do that, I am not going to do that anymore.'”
But Carville wasn’t finished. “People are going to get drunk and drive, but we have drunk driving laws.”
“This is one of those issues that you are not going to change my mind,” Palin said, as Carville switched topics. “I am not going to change your mind. Because if the Second Amendment goes, that right goes and every right goes.”
Carville also pressed Palin if she had any examples when she referred to the news business as the “lame-stream media” — a frequent phrase she uses in speeches and on social media.
She named Katie Couric, who interviewed her in a notorious series of pieces for CBS News in 2008. Palin cited Couric’s recent apology over edits made to a recent documentary, “Under the Gun.”
But later, in a Q&A with the audience, she also agreed that some reporters at Fox News have a bias. “I believe that Fox News has a conservative bent,” she said. “You know what? Thank God for that.”
The first question from the audience came from a ten-year-old boy, Adam Chernick, who also said he was a reporter. Carville asked him to come up on stage, and the boy noted that Palin had said that she “hated” countries that didn’t treat women right and didn’t want them to be part of the United Nations.
Palin tried to interrupt, but the boy asked her to “please” let him finish.
Given her comments about those countries, the boy said, “How come you are endorsing Donald Trump after he said, Megyn Kelly ‘has got blood coming out of her wherever.'”
There were cheers and some laughs from the crowd.
Palin answered, “Donald Trump isn’t sexist. If he were, I wouldn’t be endorsing him.”