August 27th, 2008
11:55 PM ET
6 years ago

Gergen: Reversing the momentum?

Sen. Clinton looks on with her daughter as former President Clinton speaks at the convention Wednesday.
Sen. Clinton looks on with her daughter as former President Clinton speaks at the convention Wednesday.

It often seems presumptuous to sit in a television studio and offer a judgment about how a political convention is working out in America when it is you, the voters, who are the real deciders. So please forgive, but here are some thoughts.

Overall, I thought that the Democratic Party finally brought it together tonight. Much of the credit for their success goes to the Clintons - through the speech last night by Hillary and then tonight by Bill, they brought glue to the party and an energy to the convention that was crucial. Recognizing how sad they must be inside, I thought they were a class act this week. Together, they brought a healing to the party that allowed people to pull together.

Add to that the way that both Barack Obama and Joe Biden conducted themselves tonight, and they had the makings of a grand third night. Visiting the hall, Obama didn't talk so much about himself but rather, was gracious and thankful to the Clintons (as well, of course, as Michelle). Coming after Bill Clinton's rallying cry, it was impossible for Biden to top him - and he didn't - but he gave a very serviceable speech and his son Beau was absolutely moving.

The Republicans will have a full opportunity next week to make their case, and no doubt, they will have some grand moments, too. For now, this is the Democrats' turn, and they have used it well. Overall, my two cents is that tonight they may have started to reverse the momentum of this campaign. John McCain has been coming on strong, catching up with Obama in the polls - partly because a lot of Democrats haven't been sure in their allegiances. Now, Democrats may start coming home - and for the Obama-Biden team, that provides a big opportunity. Let's see if Obama can build on this momentum tomorrow night.

Now what do you, the read deciders, think? Would welcome your thoughts.

soundoff (143 Responses)
  1. Glen in Los Angeles

    After all the primary ruckus, I'd forgotten just how effective Bill Clinton is at delivering a message. If the future President Obama and Bill, in whatever capacity he serves, ever truly make amends and work together for any number of causes, we will see political power working for the good of the people like we have never seen it.

    August 28, 2008 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  2. Tahari

    but I beleive the strategic blows that came from the speakers… The Clintons, Michelle and VP Biden have caused internal bleeding in the Republican ideology.

    August 28, 2008 12:12 am at 12:12 am |
  3. Colin Theis

    I agree 100%. What a remarkable, historical day for America. I can only hope that the voters recognize how important it is for us to rise up and change course. It has been a very, very long eight years.

    August 28, 2008 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  4. carol

    There are some Obama supporters in South Carolina who owe Bill and Hillary Clinton an apology. I agree that the Clintons made this convention work for Obama. Before their speeches the convention was very dull.
    I'm a Hillary supporter who is not yet sold on Obama. He has no executive experience. He has only worked in either education or not for profit orgnizations. I am having trouble making that leap of faith that he can handle the position.

    August 28, 2008 12:17 am at 12:17 am |
  5. Matto

    Remember people, its about the issues and the country, not the personalities. We are losing sight of that far to often. Don't get hung up on the personalities, it's more about what those people can do for you.

    August 28, 2008 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  6. Henri,NJ

    The Democratic Party didn't bring it together, the Clintons brought it together. I think Biden may have blown his chance while much of the country is watching. However, as I heard Bill Clinton speak tonight, I kept thinking that "John McCain" could be easily substituted in for every reference to "Barack Obama." The lack of anything specific, the lack of true differences between the two candidates besides the unfounded claim that McCain is four more years of Bush surprised me. I was expecting more. Maybe that's why I will be voting for McCain in November (after voting for Hillary in the primary). And for the record, I am a 20-year old college student.

    August 28, 2008 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  7. Sally

    I dont think the Clintons should get all the credit, when in fact, they were the cause of the divisions in the first place!

    August 28, 2008 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  8. Adrienne

    you always block me. Why?

    August 28, 2008 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  9. ALLAN USA

    No OBAMA PUMA.

    August 28, 2008 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  10. Paul (from MI)

    I watched the convention coverage on TV tonight and thought that Sen. Biden gave a very good speech.

    He really hit the nail on the head with his counter to the Republicans' "experience" attack by focusing on Obama's judgment, much as John Kerry did in his preceding speech (which was fantastic, by the way). Obama was right, and McCain was wrong, about NUMEROUS KEY issues with respect to the war on terror: on the Iraq invasion, on troop levels in Afghanistan, on the Iraq timeline issue, and on how to deal with the Iran threat.

    However, Biden did mis-speak at one point on what should have been another homerun issue: that Mccain's tax policy would cut taxes most significantly for the wealthiest 2% of the population, and that Obama's plan would give MUCH more tax relief to the rest of America by comparison. Still, at least he went there. Up until now, it's seemed like the Democrats have given McCain a free ride on his blatantly deceptive attack ads on the tax issue.

    August 28, 2008 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  11. M C

    My opinion??? TWO WORDS: Go McCain!!!!

    August 28, 2008 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  12. Mike, FL

    Bill Clinton is most responsible for allowing the attacks of 9/11. Bill Clinton presided over the NASDAQ stock market bubble and crash. Bill Clinton's Community Reinvestment Act is most responsible for the real estate crash. Bill Clinton handed George W. Bush a recession. Bill Clinton was an awful President but most of you do not know it because you are fed your propaganda by the mainstream media which is in the pocket of the Democrat Party.

    August 28, 2008 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  13. Ellen, NJ

    This convention, in my opinion, started out on a good note with Ted Kennedy and Michelle Obama. Last nigh Hillary was fantastic; she looked great and her words were perfect!!! Tonight Bill truly gave all of us reason to vote for Obama! President Clinton words were magic to anyone's ears! Joe Biden's speech was heartwarming, very good, and he did say what he had to about McCain. Al in all, so far I have enjoyed watching the DNC and I have come to realize that I'm thinking more like a Democrat – after years of voting Republican. I await Obama's speech tomorrow evening.

    August 28, 2008 12:28 am at 12:28 am |
  14. Franky

    Ohh is easy David, is easy...we're gonna go at it old-school!! LOL!!

    August 28, 2008 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  15. KATHLEEN

    You screwed up the coverage of this entire convention by your
    "selective" of "what you thought were the "prominent speakers"
    What about us? What about the amount of money the DNC
    spent on this Convention. Do you think that the Dems selected
    speakers that they did not want their message heard? Egotistical
    on your behalf.
    I turned to C-Span so I could hear ALL the messages. Oh, I guess
    you will get it right for the GOP's. Not too many people will be watching
    your channel then!!!!!

    August 28, 2008 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  16. mary gagliordi

    as a deeply disappointed, disinfranchized Florida resident and Hillary Clinton supporter, my husband and I will be voting for John Mcain this november. Nothing the Clinton's or anyone else might say will make us change our minds.

    August 28, 2008 12:30 am at 12:30 am |
  17. MARY

    HILLARY & BILL WERE GREAT. IT IS SO HARD TO UNDERSTAND WHY OBAMA DID NOT CHOOSE THEM & BRING IN THE 18 MILLION VOTERS. IT IS SO HARD TO GIVE UP WHAT A DREAM TEAM THE OBAMA & CLINTON TEAM COULD HAVE BEEN TOGETHER. I WILL STILL NEVER UNDERSTAND WHY WE DID NOT LET FLORIDA & MICHIGAN REVOTE & BE COUNTED. DEMOCRATS MAY OR MAY NOT STILL WIN, BUT IT WILL NEVER BE WHAT IT COULD HAVE BEEN.

    August 28, 2008 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  18. H M

    Up with taxes, down with defense Obama/Biden.

    August 28, 2008 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  19. Dmitriy

    Bill was not telling us what Obama will do, he told us what Obama cannot do.

    August 28, 2008 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  20. Susan from Scotts Valley, CA

    I think it had great energy and will be even better tomorrow night. It will be inspired. I'm excited.

    Next week is going to be negative, negative, negative. There will be nothing inspirational about it.

    August 28, 2008 12:32 am at 12:32 am |
  21. Daren Perlstein

    David,
    I think you hit the nail on the head! The Democrats really made the case why it's time for a change in direction. Vote Obama!

    August 28, 2008 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  22. Dharmendra Rai

    Outstanding performance with little or no experience is one of the basic characteristics of a “genius”; repeating proven mistakes of past is one of the fundamental behaviors of a “looser”. Instead of experience of failure of decades, we need a fresh vision of the future. Vote for Barak Obama.

    August 28, 2008 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  23. Enough of the insanity

    Hi David,

    I thought that Sen John Kerry gave a great speech. Had he given this speech 4 yrs ago, he might have been on his way to being nominated a 2nd time tonight. President Clinton did a wonderful job as we all knew he would and brought the crowd to their feet. I was expecting a little more bite from Joe Biden, but I think the idea of tonight was to not try and out do President Clinton, but to bring our party together. There will be plenty of time for debating and throwing the McCain campaign to the wolves.

    August 28, 2008 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  24. Jon Michael

    For a Canadian, it's impressive to watch the American political system in action. The politicians are seasoned and respectable in their own individual ways and all are deserving. Can't wait to see what the GOP will offer next week. I'm certain it will be equally impressive. Hats off to the American people!

    August 28, 2008 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  25. Ray

    Hasn't changed my momentum at all. Momentum is going in favor of McCain. It only cements my love for the Clintons.

    August 28, 2008 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
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