August 27th, 2008
11:55 PM ET
10 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. kiki

    Gergen is so obvious.talking about Hillary Clinton's speech...It's the best she ever gave.....Then talking about Bill Clinton's's the best he ever gave. He's such a suck up. Yuk..

    August 28, 2008 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  2. Richard

    Obama has to make a "Presidential Address" tomorrow to culminate the wave of enthusiasm building from this convention.
    The Republicans will be hard-pressed to match this.

    August 28, 2008 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  3. Ed - Washington DC

    If Bill Clinton had been at bat in Yankee Stadium, the ball would have traveled over the seat in dead center field where Mickey Mantle landed one (I was there for that) and flown right on out of the building.

    By himself, Bill Clinton can change the outcome of this election for the man he can correctly call, in many ways political, the reincarnation of himself.

    August 28, 2008 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  4. Mrs. Sikorski

    Mr. Gergen,
    I agree with you, 100%. I always have tried to vote for the best man. Now, I find myself in the Democratic party....Mrs. S.

    August 28, 2008 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  5. Pat

    Was it my imagination, or did President Clinton lay out a platform for the "change" candidate tonight? Let's hope Obama is smart enough to do as Bill suggested. So far, I can't see myself voting for either of the Presidential candidates.....

    August 28, 2008 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  6. Paris

    If Democrats wouldn’t shine during their convention where would they shine?
    The message has always been the same blame Republicans.
    The fact still remains Obama doesn’t have the experience needed to lead our nation.
    I have fundamental differences with him but if he still had more experience or would demonstrate good judgment I would have given him a chance.
    But an Obama presidency makes me feel insecure about the future.
    I truly think about Russia, Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah and I would lose sleep thinking our president needs to depend on the judgment of his VP to make the right decision. As it is we have to deal with the stress of our lives every day, we DON’T NEED TO be stressed over the lack of knowledge or experience of our president.

    I am tired of being accused of this and that from the Democrats and I am truly tired of the biased reporting I see on our media.

    To me this is not about the republicans and democrats we are all at fault. I wish I would see someone stand up in one of the conventions and say I respect my fellow democrats and republicans. The time has come to be one nation under god and move forward as one.

    Words are no longer enough, it is time for action.

    August 28, 2008 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  7. BB

    It's so funny to see the democrats so excited that the Clintons have finally come around. They had to say all that stuff for their own political future in the democratic party. Hillary a few months back, said Obama was not ready to lead. How has that changed? Now he is ready, what changed to make him ready. Oh yeah, nothing.

    August 28, 2008 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  8. donna

    Obama has been accused of being a rock-star. He continues to play that role in this convention.This entire convention has been a nauseating event resembling a rock concert. How about being grown ups for a while and realizing that this one person is not the "God-like " person that the Democrats are trying to convince us. Our country is in trouble and we do not need a "beginner" trying lead this country. We must have an experienced leader in this most important position.

    August 28, 2008 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  9. David, ID

    There are those who can't stand to see Obama win for one reason or another. But anyone who thinks that this McCain is the "maverick of times past" is fooling themselves. Hillary knew what was at stake and didn't let her ego get in the way... she proved herself a Democrat and a patriot and anyone who votes the other way would be disingenuous to claim its because of Hillary.

    August 28, 2008 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  10. samuel

    Biden's speech was the most moving speech i have ever heard. Great job Joe!!!!

    August 28, 2008 12:58 am at 12:58 am |
  11. Marie in California

    No how.....Nobama!

    We don't need an inexperienced, razzle-dazzle. rockstar, American Idol president straight out of the Chicago political machine with an amazingly long string of tainted as*sociations, poor choices, and lack of character.

    We had a good, solid candidate in Hillary Clinton....but the DNC threw it all away when they arbitrarily handed the nomination to Obama back on May 31. He didn't win. He was installed.

    I expect they also threw away a Democratic win in November at the same time. At least, I hope so. Obama is my nightmare candidate.....and the prospect of him as president is very scary indeed.

    Former lifelong brand-new Republican.

    McCain – 2008

    August 28, 2008 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  12. Me in Texas

    If the Clintons ever reed this blog every day like I do and see Obama's supporters bash them all the time even if they good or bad; they won't be so thrill to support Obama. I won't if I were them.

    August 28, 2008 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  13. Marc PDX

    I think it makes a compelling story – but it is only the first half of the book. Who knows what the rest of the story will bring. I think it's time for some debates.

    August 28, 2008 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  14. Robert Anderson

    As a Hillary Clinton supporter, I think it is clear that both Barack Obama and Joe Biden will include the Clintons in building a new. Hillary Clinton and Barack are fighting for the same thing. there is no way I am voting for McCain. This is about our future. Not about being hurt or deeply disappointed.

    August 28, 2008 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  15. Akinola

    I see an OVERLOAD OF POW next week. The reps will force feed us Mcain war stories, watch out now!

    August 28, 2008 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  16. jayjayaye

    What in heaven's and journalism's name is "immoderate" about thus question?

    August 28, 2008 01:08 am at 1:08 am |
  17. Brian

    I'm not of the generation that looks to the Clintons as some sort of American royalty (or to the Kennedys or others, for that matter), but I have been really pleasantly surprised by the strength and clarity of the Dems' message at the convention, and I'm glad the Clintons seem to be so resolutely on board.

    The biggest highlights of this week, though, haven't been your parents' Dems, it's been the party's new guard: the Obamas, Brian Schweitzer, Evan Bayh, Bill Richardson, Claire McCaskill... Alas, no Klobuchar, but maybe next year.

    Anyway, the Clintons' personal disappointments are just really not that big of a concern to me. I admire them well enough, sure. But these are not soap opera characters who we're supposed to relate to on some emotional level. They work for us.

    August 28, 2008 01:10 am at 1:10 am |
  18. La Raza

    How can anyone in their right mind vote for McCain. The grand old party. McCain has morphed into a glow worm.

    August 28, 2008 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  19. Joseph in PA

    All I can say is WOW! An historic moment for all Americans. The Democratic Party is now UNITED and on fire. We are not just being against something, but now have something to really stand for, with and behind...Obama and Biden!

    A huge thank you to the Clintons as they really rose to the occasion to show the leaders that they are.

    If the first test of a Presidential nominee is his VP pick, then Obama deserves an A+ in Biden!

    August 28, 2008 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  20. Steve - southern Illinois

    I'm sorry. Just not happy that you didn't air that speech. Good night.

    August 28, 2008 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  21. Melissa

    I am an independent from Florida voting for McCain come November. Two things this convention can't fix no matter who speaks or what they say:

    1. They picked someone without experience to run for President of the United States... now they are trying to fill the gaps with Biden... But it doesn't change the fact that he is inexperienced for the job. Big mistake on behalf of the Dems especially knowing they were going up against McCain in the Fall...

    2. Having the Clintons speak was a double edged sword for the Dems these past two nights... They were needed of course to bring in Hillary's 18 million but boy do those two extremely powerful convention shaking speeches achingly remind the everyone that the real contender for the Democratic ticket gave the best Presidential sounding speech last night... even I an independent from Florida (a state that got ignored by the Dems) would have voted for Hillary after hearing that speech last night.

    I would love to see an African American or a Woman make history in the White House but it has to be someone with experience to occupy that seat in my opinion... Obama falls short... maybe in the future he will be ready...

    August 28, 2008 01:15 am at 1:15 am |
  22. BDev

    Wow. Looking at the posts left by these Democrats reminds me why I won't have anything to do with this party. You people forget that in the past 40 years, the vast majority of our presidents have been Republicans. There's a reason for that: Republicans are better for the country.

    How could you be so willing to turn this country over to some unknown just because he's smarter than you are? I'm not going to stoop to your level and call you names but the rhetoric that comes from your camp is downright childish.

    As an African American, I'm underwhelmed by Obama. He brings nothing to the table but some speeches that you guys think are great. So should every professor in America run for president? How about every author? Those are his "distinctions", right? Those distinctions don't qualify ANYONE to be president (black, white, red, yellow, purple, or green).

    We can't be this slow. When I say "we", I mean you Democrats.

    August 28, 2008 01:16 am at 1:16 am |
  23. WD Lawrence

    A historic night, indeed, and particularly remarkable that a politician with so little national experience and a paper think resume could get the presidential nomination based largely on charisma and promises. This missive is not meant to be a pejorative one, but the aggregrate "red" in each state (regardless of its predominant color), will combine to deny the presidency to such an inexperienced person.

    August 28, 2008 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  24. Andrea, California

    Yes, the Clintons are amazing aren't they? They do in fact know how to get things done. Because of Hillary's speech, and then Bill's, i will NOT be voting McCain. But because of Obama's not cementing this election with Hillary at his side, i will be staying home. And no, i am NOT a republican and NO i am NOT racist. I am tired of that being said if you do not blindly follow this man you all have starry eyes for.

    August 28, 2008 01:27 am at 1:27 am |
  25. Lee Humphrey

    From Canada. Tuesday night, Hilliary moved me to tears. Tears of joys; pent up emotions, stiffled by Bush and the Conservative ideology of divisive politics. Wednesday, Bill made me laugh again; and a ray of hope shone through a gloomy, economic outlook. Michelle looked tentative, fearing for her husband, praying that he would not be denied his moment. The crowd echoed the stage, pitching back and forth, wandering and wondering ... being raised to unity and slipping back by self-doubts, questioning "Can this really be true?" Joe was average, I fell asleep on the couch after a few minutes, like a true, blue collar worker, I relaxed when I saw that my relief could care on and finish the job. Next is Barak, his shoes must grow to support the weight of the office that he cherishes; but, if he can take the next step, we are behind him and able to march together.

    August 28, 2008 01:29 am at 1:29 am |
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