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. HONESTY

    The Clintons with Hillary > Bill in that order have been by far the best of this convention. Just as they did in the campaign trail they are the ones that rock. The DNC in November will realize that they anointed the wrong guy. BO is a product of political opportunism and circumstances. No way is he even close to that young vivacious, precocious and brilliant Governor of Arkansans in 2000.
    Just to see the spectacle of his entrance to that convention after Biden's speech, speaks volumes about BO. He is all show and rhetoric, simple words, no substance. No matter in how many ways you slice his thin resume, there is nothing there. NOTHING. He should not be president of the United States.

    August 28, 2008 01:30 am at 1:30 am |
  2. V

    The real momentum will start in the debates. Obama is nothing without his teleprompter. To this point he has relied on the image and universal, albeit empty, promises of hope and change. Americans will see through his smoke and mirrors and realize that he is too inexperienced and lacks the judgment he is so proud of (need I remind you of Ayers and the racist Rev. Wright?).

    How about a real maverick, someone who actually has gone against his party and worked with people across the aisle?

    McCain 08

    August 28, 2008 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  3. Jeb

    I am highly doubtful that the Republican convention will have the same electricity that this one did.
    The Clinton's knocked it out of the park.

    August 28, 2008 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  4. F.S. Michael

    I used to tell my kids if they work hard get an education they can acheive the American dream. Now thanks to John McCain I can tell them all they have to do is marry a rich hieress. and be sure to learn how many homes they own.

    August 28, 2008 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  5. Rey in South Texas

    The Clinton's deserve great credit for what they did during this convention. As a loyal Obama supporter, I was ecstatic to hear them express their support. I look forward to working together as a unified party to retake the Whitehouse.

    August 28, 2008 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  6. DeeJam - Los Angeles

    I agree that Hillary and Bill brought the glue. By Hillary releasing her delegates, she took that major step towards the unity that is necessary in the party. And Bill stating with no uncertainty that Obama is ready to lead this country was a major blow to McCain's arguement that Obama is not ready. Bill was very successful as president and he knows the type of character that is needed to be succusful in this postion. I am glad they pulled it together and I can't wait until tomorrow.

    Obama/ Biden '08

    August 28, 2008 01:42 am at 1:42 am |
  7. tonight

    Hillary Supporters for Mc Cain

    are energy Vampires who have personal issues that make them think they know better than Hillary Herself.

    They will cut off their Democrat nose, to spite their face.

    August 28, 2008 01:43 am at 1:43 am |
  8. Nevada dude

    so that's (almost) what an unbiased article looks like eh? a little hard to continue with your useless divisive "reporting" when the party is finally coming together. with the Clintons on his side Obama is UNSTOPPABLE!!!

    August 28, 2008 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  9. Jim in WA State

    Keep dreaming David. This Democrat and Hillary supporter is still voting for McCain. Don't you think we know what is going on here? Of course the Clintons have to put on a show and make it look like they are behind Obama, but the truth is the really are not. And neither and I. Stop spinning things in favor of Obama. You have lost all objectivity in this campaign and it is obvious to the viewers.

    August 28, 2008 01:46 am at 1:46 am |
  10. Rick K

    Here's what I think the Obama camp accomplished, by my own personal tally:

    - Retell his story and reintroduce his family very effectively. Not everyone will accept them, but they've done all I think they can do at this point and done a pretty good job there.

    - Beyond just making peace with the Clintons, there is an impression that there are a group of very talented people at the top of the Democratic party who are willing to work together and may just be willing to elevate their shared ideals and common goals above self interest – The Clintons absolutely took the lead on this and they will long be remembered for it. The Dem 'brand' seemed to improve as this was playing out.

    - Take some steam out of McCain's relentless attacks on Obama's 'readiness.' This was accomplished in part by replaying some history, and in part via the credibility and sheer force of the character witnesses.

    - Lastly, and most strategically, this allows Obama the CHANCE to turn the campaign back to the issues. He still has to do that, but I suspect (with no inside information) that this was EXACTLY what they'd hoped. I think Bill Clinton gave him the hook. Here's what I think it is, gift wrapped:

    '...on the two great questions of this election, how to rebuild the American Dream and how to restore America's leadership in the world, [McCain] embraces the extreme philosophy which has defined his party for more than 25 years' – (and insert bad result here)

    August 28, 2008 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  11. Venus

    I definitely felt like the Democrats were reborn tonight. I was thrilled to hear Bill Clinton fully endorse Barack by saying he was "ready to lead". I found it really compelling to hear just how bad the past eight years have been compared to Clinton's eight years. I got a clearer understanding of just how wrong mcCain is for this time.

    I feel a fire burning. The Dems are on fire. I'm fired up! To see the amazing talent and brains we have in this party all working together. I have to say I'm impressed w/ how Barack is running things. How he's smoothed over things w/ the Clinton's enough to get them on board physically and emotionally. And I have renewed respect for the Clintons. They won me over. Maybe they were never as bitter as the press said, I'll never know. But all I can say is WOW WOW WOW.

    I'm ready to get to work to elect Barack Obama. Even though the winds at our backs, we have a long way to go.

    God bless America and give us the strength to put this country back on the right track.

    August 28, 2008 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  12. Thomas, Illinois

    mary-go for it ..I just hope you don't have any children thats old enough for the draft...

    August 28, 2008 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  13. No McCain No How

    there is not a black America or a white America, a Latino or Asian America it is the United States of America...there is no red America or blue America there is the United States of America...Obama 2004.

    it is only in this country where my story could be told...Obama

    yes, i am my brothers keeper and my sisters keeper...Obama

    in a tender America where a name does not become a barrier...Obama

    there has been a slave who has this country still imprinted on his back, an white abolitionist who's feet still blister from the miles of travel, there is a First American who still feels the wind upon his face as he watches the sun set upon the prairie. there is a woman whose fingers flinch from the fire she set upon her bra, and a soldier who's blue uniform is covered in the wet blood of his brother in the grey. there is a father who kissed his wife in the port as she went to the factory to build a plane, there are eyes gazing upon the sleek strong symbol of promise and hope in the NY harbor, gold right now has been found in the west. a mother just got word that her daughter was killed in Iraq and she looks for our shoulder to cry upon, there is a a storm named Katrina who challenges us to become their champions, there are a billion eyes horrified by the sight two falling towers and the thump, and pound of the heart of every American as thousands of Americans are released from concentration camps abroad and upon our own soil, the tears from a president shot drown our Nation like floods in Iowa, the murder of a man named X brings shame to us all, yet the thunder of pride as our flag yours and mine its stars and its strips illuminated upon the moon first touched by America that thunder that pride colorless and unconfined is who we ARE and will be again...this is a rich country, we saw that 9/12..this is a beautiful country, we see that tonight, this is a strong country because it is a country built on all of OUR blood, on all of OUR HOPES and all of OUR DREAMS...what divides us is our challenge, but what divides us has NEVER been stronger than what UNITES US!
    WE are AMERICA

    August 28, 2008 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  14. Lin

    Duh. Um, yeah, Obama's got the momentum.

    IF .... the networks would stop trying to keep it close. The huge news bureaucracy is irrelevant during a blow-out. So they strive to CREATE rather than REPORT appropriate news, to keep the race close and themselves relevant.

    Stop over-reporting the few Hillary malcontents and stop under-reporting the ridiculous negative snarkiness of the McCain lack-of-campaign.

    August 28, 2008 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  15. Del

    I agree with the comments regarding not seeing all of what is going on at the convention. It is the democratic convention and I feel as a democrat I have missed a lot of the speakers who have voiced many concerns that voters across the country needed to hear. You have blocked out what this convention is all about. Your personal comments on what is going on or what is going to be said and blah blah blah with all your experts (?) caused me and many of my friends to turn to another station to grasp what is really going on at the convention.

    August 28, 2008 01:53 am at 1:53 am |
  16. PA. Dem lady

    people cant blame the clintons now when obama gets beat and is a loser in the fall.... We clinton supportes are still going vote for mccain.. ill pick experience, honor and courage any day over obama.. so my vote is with Mccain.... PUMA!!!!

    August 28, 2008 01:54 am at 1:54 am |
  17. WeBoDave

    I think there have been many successful speeches especially Bill Clinton's. Governonr Schweitzer, Senator Kerry, Senator Clinton and Captain Beau Biden also did great and gave the democrats some good talking points for the campaign. Michelle Obama also gave a terrific speech which has been overshadowed by many of the others. I felt the content of Senator Biden's speech was great but he misspoke a few of the key lines. He will have many chances to deliver those sound bites smoothly though.

    You are wrong that McCain has been coming on strong and had the momentum. He was tightening the race slightly but I wouldn't call it strong and certainly not real momentum. He also achieved this through negative ads which have a finite effect in the course of a race. McCain's campaign may need to attack Obama later and the electorate will have tuned out negativity.

    August 28, 2008 01:59 am at 1:59 am |
  18. Lance

    lol momentum.........you do realize that most of America did not and will not ever watch the conventions of either party. The people who do are the ones who made their minds up as soon as their party picked a candidate. You see these people just need to see an R or a D. They dont need to actually think. The rest of us are so disgusted with both parties that we dont care about crap like a DNC convention. We just want the lies to stop on both sides and for the debates to get here.

    August 28, 2008 01:59 am at 1:59 am |
  19. Ronald

    Yes the momentum is there! Did it win over a huge number of independents and Conservatives? NO! But if your liberal then your fired up and ready for the next eight weeks. And we have not even heard from our nominee yet. Regardless of what the pundits say "Mission Accomplished". Bio for Barrack and Michelle introducing them to blue collar demcrats, support and unity from the Clintons, focused message policy differences of Obama and McCain, introduction of an amazing story and person in Joe Biden who is a true American hero. And still one more day to go.

    August 28, 2008 01:59 am at 1:59 am |
  20. Texas Witch Twister

    No way Hosea. As much as I respect the Clintons I will never vote Obama.

    August 28, 2008 02:02 am at 2:02 am |
  21. Christopher in Silicon Valley

    Bill gave a heck of a speech. It made me almost want to vote for Bill.

    I hope Hillary's belittled supporters will consider voting for McCain.

    If McCain wins, he will likely serve 1 term. So, HRC can run in 2012.
    If Obama wins, he will likely run in 2012. So, HRC can run in 2016.

    On October 26, Hillary will be 61.
    In October 2012, she will be 65.
    In October 2016, she will be 69.

    Can she really wait 8 more years?

    August 28, 2008 02:02 am at 2:02 am |
  22. alana yates

    any person who jumps ship just because their particular canidate didn't win was never loyal to our party to begin with. So the constant threat of voting for Mcain because Hillary didn't get the nomination is simply foolish. I think our party is better off without you! GOOD RIDDENS.

    August 28, 2008 02:03 am at 2:03 am |
  23. HillaryBoy

    Good speech Bill, But I will now follow you if you take Obama's path.

    August 28, 2008 02:12 am at 2:12 am |
  24. scott

    Hillary stole the convention. Obama who?

    August 28, 2008 02:16 am at 2:16 am |
  25. Chuck

    If Obama can't win without Hillary, why is HE the nominee?

    Oh Yeah! He was picked by Dean, Kennedy, and Peloser.

    I prefer to have my nominee picked democratically thanks.

    McCain '08!!!

    August 28, 2008 02:17 am at 2:17 am |
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