CNN's Rick Sanchez Tuesday grilled Texas gubernatorial candidate and Tea Party activist Debra Medina about her positions concerning America's role in the 9/11 attacks as well as whether or not Barack Obama was born in the United States.
"Just so for the record, if you want to stomp this out right here now on national television, do you believe the government, the U.S. government, played any role in all in 9/11?" Sanchez asked.
After Medina answered, Sanchez continued to press: "Debra, either you do or you don't believe that 9/11 was in any way caused or helped by the U.S. government. Do you or don't you?"
Once he was done with that issue, Sanchez moved on: "How about the birth certificate thing? You say you're not a truther. Are you a birther?" (video embedded below the fold with transcript, h/t HotAirPundit):
RICK SANCHEZ, HOST: States' rights. Two heavy hitters, Perry and Hutchinson. And suddenly out of nowhere -- talk about state's rights -- comes Debra Medina. She is a tea party activist whose support in the polls rose so high she found her way into a televised debate with these two famous politicians.
And this became a national sensation. A tea party activist crashing the Texas Republican Party. But then a funny thing happened.
In an interview with Glenn Beck, Medina suggested that she's on the side of a 9/11 conspiracy theorists, suggested it.
A quote from Debra Medina, "I think some very good questions have been raised in that regard. There are some very good arguments and I think the American people have not seen all the evidence."
That's what she said.
Since that moment, Medina's support has slipped. That's what the polls seem to show. By the way, that Republican primary is one week from today, and Debra Medina is good enough to join us now from Wharton, Texas.
The comments you made, Debra, about 9/11, they seem to have hurt you. Are you -- are you trying to walk it back now somewhat? Or have you? Or do you want to?
DEBRA MEDINA (R), TEXAS GOV. CANDIDATE: Well, I think we came out pretty clearly and early to clarify. You've talked about second question that I got there from Glenn. I laughed off right away.
We've had all kinds of kind of absurd things thrown at candidates. And that was one, frankly, that I had never heard in over a year of campaigning, never talked about that, and laughed. Apparently sometimes you've just got to say no. (CROSSTALK)
MEDINA: And I -- clearly I should have. I said no, I am not a truther. I haven't -- I don't consider myself to be a truther.
SANCHEZ: Let me hear you -- we've got some sound of you here so the audience can hear you. This is you clarifying your remarks as well. Let's listen to that if we got it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MEDINA: 9/11 Commission report, you know, great sections of that are redacted and are top secret. That makes us all wonder, well, what's happening back there? The same is true with the birth certificate thing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: It almost sounds there like you're not convinced that the government may not have played a hand in it. Just so for the record, if you want to stomp this out right here now on national television, do you believe the government, the U.S. government, played in the role in all in 9/11?
MEDINA: I have made it clear that I believe Muslim terrorists blew planes into those buildings, and I do not believe our government colluded with them or worked with them in any way.
The question that I've alluded to and I've left open is those recognizing that there were questions raised by the 9/11 Commission. I think it's incumbent on people in leadership to rely on and make decisions on objective evidence.
This is all a diversion from this race. I've issued my statements.
SANCHEZ: But wait a minute.
MEDINA: And I'm focusing on the issues here in Texas.
SANCHEZ: Debra. Debra, either you do or you don't believe that 9/11 was in any way caused or helped by the U.S. government. Do you or don't you? Because first you said you don't, and then you said there are questions that are being raised by the 9/11 Commission.
So help us understand. What questions are being raised by the 9/11 Commission that we as Americans should be concerned about in terms of culpability on the part of our government?
MEDINA: I have not talked about those and I'm not going to talk about those. I am in no position here. I wasn't a member of the commission. I am simply stating that I do not consider myself to be a truther. I believe Muslim terrorists flew those planes.
And I am a sensible enough, rational enough person to know that the experts that were chosen by our Congress and by our president raised some questions. I have not studied that report, and I am not going to speculate about the content or the --
MEDINA: Or the conclusions that they drew. I know that there are questions, and that's all I'm going to say about it.
SANCHEZ: So we'll leave it that there are questions. How about the birth certificate thing? You say you're not a truther. Are you a birther?
MEDINA: No. Not a birther.
SANCHEZ: Not at all? You don't doubt that the president of the United States is legitimately a citizen of the United States, born in Hawaii?
MEDINA: No, I do not. I've not questioned that at all. No, I think what all of this gets to and the reason that people are coming after me is I am someone -- this shouldn't be about what Debra Medina believes or frankly what other candidates personally believe.
Our job as governors or as candidates for governor is to ensure that we have government that protects the life, liberty and property of her citizens. And I have said we've got to have accountability in government.
We don't have the kind of accountability in government we need in Texas and I'm going to champion that. So I hope as we do these interviews that folks don't take that to mean, well, Debra is saying people can't ask questions.
I've spent a year saying Republicans are in trouble because they're not walking their talk. We want clear, transparent accountable government. And if we had those things, these questions you're raising today would be a non-issue.
SANCHEZ: What's your position on immigration?
MEDINA: We have talked about, boy, over and over that the wealth of a nation is her people. We need a healthy immigration process. Very disturbed by some things that are going on here in Texas, namely our governor championed in the second debate the fact that Texas offers in-state tuition to illegal immigrants.
The governor claims that that is to help them toward citizenship. The fact of the matter is it's the ultimate bait and switch. It's a horrible program because while the state offers in-state tuition, those who qualify for that and under the federal law, if you've been here for three years you're forever barred from becoming a citizen.
So we've got state law that says you've got to be here three years to get in-state tuition, federal law says if you're here three years, you'll never get American citizenship. You'll never get U.S. citizenship. The fine print is an ultimate and a gotcha. It is not taking care of our neighbors. It's horrible policy. And we see that up and down in Texas under the governor's leadership. It's time for new leadership in Texas. And that's what we're fighting hard for.
SANCHEZ: Do you think undocumented immigrants -- and this is a very relevant question for someone living in the southwest part of the United States, obviously. Do you think that undocumented immigrants benefits Texans or simply take from Texans?
MEDINA: Boy, I don't think there's any question that's a yes/yes answer. Certainly there are members -- there are people -- you know, everybody contributes to this society, I guess what I'm trying to say, whether you're here illegally or not.
We're all contributing to the society and people -- you know, I don't know whether that's a net sum gain or loss. I guess depending on how you're looking at it. The wealth of a nation is people, but first we've got to remember this is a constitutional republic.
We are the greatest nation on the face of the earth because we created a set of laws that are supposed to be fair and just and apply equally to everyone. We're finding ourselves, in large regard, in the predicament that we're in, because we have failed to adhere to those laws.
Those standards aren't applied the same --
MEDINA -- to everybody that's here. That's what we're fighting for, recognizing that people are the wealth of the nation. We want a healthy, prosperous immigration process.
SANCHEZ: All right. Well, you know -- we're -- you know, and I understand. I mean, for the record, the question was pretty clear. Do you think undocumented immigrants benefit Texans or is it the other way around? Is it do they take away from Texans?
I'm not quite sure you gave us an answer to that, but nonetheless we're out of time, we appreciate the fact that you've taken time to explain your positions to us and try and to clear up some of the things that have been reported about you, and some of the things that you may have said during other interviews.
My thanks to you, Debra, for taking time once again there in Texas to talk to us today. Take care.
MEDINA: Thank you.
Wouldn't you love to see Democrats -- for example, their presidential nominee in 2008! -- grilled by media this way?
After all, this is only a gubernatorial candidate. I was waiting for Sanchez to turn a bright light on in Medina's face and start threatening to bring in his partner with the brass knuckles.
In the end, as a Tea Party member, media are dying to portray Medina as a far-right whacko. Now, she certainly stepped in it during her interview with Beck, and deserves to be scrutinized regarding this matter.
Question is whether she'll be allowed to step out and move on like Democrat candidates typically are when they stumble, or if so-called journalists will continue to hound her on this issue no matter how times she answers them.