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. Riley

    I don't know what I am going to watch next week. Usually it is the news, but I could not take 4 days of those idiots rubbing eachothers backs. Maybe I will actually get my college homework done. I am lagging behind after this week.

    August 28, 2008 02:17 am at 2:17 am |
  2. Alex Chediak

    I am a conservative Republican, and I've blogged a lot about the race recently, and I am inclined to agree with you. Biden and President Clinton did what they had to do. But President Clinton was still sparse on naming specific Obama accomplishments (as was his wife). I think a lot of Clinton supporters will still vote for McCain.

    If Clinton's 3 AM ad was effective (and it was - after it played, she got half a million more votes than Obama) with a primary constituency, how much more effective will the strategy be among the general electorate? That (and the disaffected Clinton supporters) is what has been working for McCain.

    August 28, 2008 02:19 am at 2:19 am |
  3. Hispanic for Obama - Ricky

    This was great and a unifying convention. Now not all will be voting for Obama and those who vote for McCain, who is more right than Bush, are Republicans in a Democrats clothing.

    I think they did a great job of painting who they, what makes them different, and what they want to do.

    As for McCain's side. Probably more of the same bash Obama and say nothing about what he can do differently for the country.

    Obama/Biden 08

    August 28, 2008 02:20 am at 2:20 am |
  4. Patty

    The convention has been rather boring up to a point but I agree that the CLintons did a great job and sadly to say, Hillary should have been the nominee. It has been discussed ad nauseum on how the Clintons did, but no mention of why Obama hasn't reached out to these voters himself long ago. Why is it up to them to ensure he wins because if he can't do it himself, then he shouldn't have the job, she should if she is that all powerful. I am tired of hearing CNN discuss how Bill caused problems during the primary when in all reality he didn't. He was misquoted and his words turned into racist remarks where there weren't any. Hillary was ridiculed then to get him the nomination but now is expected to deliver....sorry, but when is Obama going to take responsibility for his own election and getting all democrats on board? Maybe between the grand staging and perfect timing of it appearing on the anniversary of MLK speech, we will again be forced to listen to lofty rhetoric rather than a down to earth heart felt talk of his platform. If it is the same as every other speech he has given, it will most disappointing that his mantra cannot change.

    August 28, 2008 02:23 am at 2:23 am |
  5. Nova

    The dems surprisingly to rising in the polls. At this point they would want to be up by at least 10 points nationally. I think a McCain pick of Rob Portman, Daiv Patraus or a Mitt Romney would be very strong.

    August 28, 2008 02:28 am at 2:28 am |
  6. Sammy

    Well OK, any of you actual democratic voters who still say they will go against the wishes of Hillary just remember your choice of McCain when he makes his presidential address saying we preemptively attacked Iran. Actually, I dont know anymore how many bloggers are legit.

    I am waiting for someone to say at the republican convention the phrase 'evil empire' again when referring to Russia. Then I know there are still cold warriors out there who still want to fight it.

    August 28, 2008 02:29 am at 2:29 am |
  7. robinette

    I will not vote for Barack due to the FACT that he is INELIGIBLE to run for presidential office.Shame on the media for sweeping this critical and illegal issue under the rug.I will never vot republican,but refuse to "play along" with the "King And His Underwear" mentality.USA WAKE UP!!!!!!!!Do your research!!!!!!Don't get bamboozled by another con!!!!!

    August 28, 2008 02:31 am at 2:31 am |
  8. zach

    Momentum for Democrats is indeed building...but depending on who McCain has picked for his VP (meaning, barring some monumental blunder) the Republicans have a chance at carrying the news cycle through the weekend and all next week. The McCain campaign hopes to pack in a crowd of 15,000 people for the event in which he reveals his choice in Dayton, OH. Granted it's no where near the 70,000+ Obama has garnered at some events (see Oregon rally of the primaries), it's more than triple anything he's come close to seeing before and if he succeeds in drawing the crowd (which remains to be seen, I attend Miami University in Oxford, Ohio – just South of Dayton – and the College Republicans here are still giving away tickets, sending out multiple e-mails trying to gather possible attendees) pundits will surely try to say he's gaining more momentum. If Romney is his VP choice – which seems likely, given the site chosen to reveal the decision, OH borders MI and there is a lot of support for Romney here – look for his numbers in MI and OH to bounce but for his lead in FL to remain flat and possibly decline in the weeks to come.

    August 28, 2008 02:31 am at 2:31 am |
  9. Jason Kendy

    The Democrats have done a super job on this convention so far. I think we are seeing a well planned, deeply thought out, and carefully choreographed presentation. I'm a Hillary guy from way back, but Obama/Biden have sealed the deal. These people will govern well.

    Michelle in 2016! You rock, and yeah I can see why BO kept trying.

    P.S. Loved the comment someone left here about not feeling at home in America anymore. I have lived abroad for 22 years and have no plans to return. Way too stifling, pushy-religious, and odd. (But I'll vote.)

    August 28, 2008 02:34 am at 2:34 am |
  10. JMoses

    I can't believe how many people I see on blogs all over the net claiming to be former democrats voting for McCain when it is obvious that is not the case. If you have to lie to get your candidate elected, shouldn't that tell you something right there?

    August 28, 2008 02:35 am at 2:35 am |
  11. tsolow

    How can you go from Hillary Clinton to John McCain? I don't understand what's going through your head. A decision like that says that you don't understand the issues. Or you ignore them.

    Why were you voting for Hillary in the first place? It must have been because you liked her as a person. Because if you agreed with her stances on the issues (you know, the things that actually matter) you would make the logical choice and support the candidate who mirrors her positions. Instead you feel the need to spitefully threaten to switch parties because your candidate didn't make it. The GOP needs more people like you and the Democrats need less.

    As for the DNC, I thought Biden's speech started off weak but ended strong. Kerry was surprisingly effective (where was that in 2004?) and President Clinton reminded us of why he was elected.

    August 28, 2008 02:39 am at 2:39 am |
  12. jimmy from Boynton Beach FLorida

    Iam GLad that Iam alive to see this day when the first black man gets to be nominated. One comment: Jonh Mccain keeps saying that the surge in Iraq is working. It was about time that something working after 6 years of a senseless war. For the Hilary supporters who are going to vote for Mccain, good luck! You are probably some of the few people who are making 5 millions/year and do not care about the state of the country now. Do you actually think that our economy will be restored under MCcain. I can sum Mcsame plan into two things drilling and war? Will we win the war on poverty, lack of interest and funding for education. I have been a nurse for 13 years and I can not tell you how many important tests are not run on people because of no insurance. Now ponder on that and decide if you will still vote for Mcsame. The only priority of Mcsame is Iraq not the restoration of America's economy. We can not have a successful country without a great education for young Americans.

    August 28, 2008 02:40 am at 2:40 am |
  13. kiki


    August 28, 2008 02:41 am at 2:41 am |
  14. SusieQ

    I was worried a little before the convention but am not now.
    I believe we have party unity.
    Anyone who was an ardent Hillary supporter who is not going to vote for the Democratic party after this, well, I don't believe they were ever actually Democrats. Frankly I don't believe they were ever actually supporters of Hillary, because no one who was a supporter of the issues that Hillary has worked so hard for would ever vote for McCain.

    August 28, 2008 02:43 am at 2:43 am |
  15. APS in Hawaii

    Now it is up to Obama to make a formal apology for his dirty smear campaign against the Clinton's. If he does not deliver, I will leave the paerty this year because Obama's arrogance is too much to handle. Hillary was cheated and she has delivered so much tot he Democratic Party and has been mistreated all of the way by Obama, his supporters, and the news media. Now let's see if Obama has the RIGHT stuff!!!

    August 28, 2008 02:48 am at 2:48 am |
  16. peakarach,des moines,IA

    I think all 18 million of Hillary supporter must united and vote for McCain on NOV.4,2008 so Hillary can run again in 2012!.

    HILLARY 12!

    August 28, 2008 02:48 am at 2:48 am |
  17. Jim Richmond

    I have made my mind. Democrats again proved they are hypocrites. They steam-rolled Hillary and want her to help Obama win the Presidency. What a buch of crock. Look back at all the previous democrat candidates including Edward Kennedy who lost their primary contests. Did anyone come out like the Clintons and helped. We elected a crazy black man based on these young immature idiots on the left and 90% of blacks. Good luck Democrats, there are many who think exactly like I am and is hiding in the closet. They will be out there in November to make sure we don't have this naive idiot to ruin our country far worse than Bush. We have tendency to vote in this kind of idiot once in a while, the last one being Jimmy Carter.

    August 28, 2008 02:57 am at 2:57 am |
  18. go away mongers- Ventura ca

    The speech that John Kerry gave was TREMENDOUS as well- Wish he would have said that in 2004.
    This is AMERICA'S TIME as Joe Biden said.
    Move over Greedy Oil People.......your days in power are almost DONE!

    August 28, 2008 02:58 am at 2:58 am |
  19. Elgynn

    Anyone who voted for Hillary that says they are voting for McCain is now either A.) a poser – ever since the beginning, serving their own self intrested image and enjoing the attention that dissent accords them or, B.) a stooge – conned into serving the interests of the afore-mentioned parties and, by extetion (if not directly), the republican party.

    If McCain wins, Hillary will be far too poorly positioned to make another shot at it... but after Obama she could run and win. Unity is imperitive to her candidacy, because we democrats are a team. We cannot win alone or divided. Least of all, if history remembers us for failure and division, rather than peace and prosperity. Don't buy into the McCain propoganda about division just acknowlege it for what it is. There is no division in Denver. If you are voting for McCain, then you are not a "Hillary Supporter" – you are a republican. You might find some of your one in St. Paul next week? Although I hear a lot of them are staying home this year. I hope you can support our candidate, Barack Obama... And if not, then I hope you stay home too. You clearly do not vote because of your core values, or Hillary's... It's just a popularity contest to you?

    August 28, 2008 02:59 am at 2:59 am |
  20. Obama08

    David: Like his opponents, you vastly underestimate the intelligence of Barak Obama. The convention didn't suddenly "come together". It unfolded exactly as he planned. From forcing the Clintons' hand, to having his story, to emphasize hope and change, to define it and then to go on the attack. You were just to caught up in "analyzing" and "criticizing" to have listened to allof the should have watched PBS.

    That is reason why Obama is the one I want to negotiate with our allies and enemies. He can see right through bluster and pompous people.

    August 28, 2008 03:00 am at 3:00 am |
  21. Abm Habibullah, Dallas, TX

    I am a proud democrate and President Clinton is the best President I have seen in my lifetime. God bless him. Obama needs to follow his foot step ( except for one).

    August 28, 2008 03:01 am at 3:01 am |
  22. Ken

    I must say that Bill and Hillary Clinton did what good party member's do, a great show. They both know like the rest of the world knows, that Hillary Clinton should have been the nominee and not Obama.

    Now, Obama has sealed his fate for losing in November by choosing Biden instead of Hillary Clinton to be his VP. Just another of Obama;s dumb mistakes.

    I am like so many other Hillary Clinton supporters that will NOT vote for Obama and will be voting for McCain. At least McCain has the experience, knowledge and skills that is truly lacking in Obama.

    We will make sure that when Hillary Clinton runs in 2012, WE WILL make sure that she does become the nominee, and then our next President.

    August 28, 2008 03:02 am at 3:02 am |
  23. Abm Habibullah, Dallas, TX

    mary gagliordi,

    You are a GOP supporter, not democrate. Democrates votes to support issues, not person. Dictators get vote based on personality.

    August 28, 2008 03:03 am at 3:03 am |
  24. JC

    I was a Hillary supporter in the primaries. I think Hillary and Bill Clinton gave two great speaches. However, that did not make Obama
    any more qualified. In comparison, it makes him look even less qualified and less gracious considering how he did not even vetted Hillary, how he sent his text message at 3 am Saturday morning (what a joke!!). I am votting for Mcain for sure, no doubt about it.
    He is more qualified. Country first, party second. The DNC made me sick of partisian. Mcain is at the right time for people who are not extrem far left or far right.

    August 28, 2008 03:05 am at 3:05 am |
  25. Allan

    I was very pleased, and not just a little surprised, when Sen.Clinton moved for acclamation. Yes, she and Bill must have been hurting, but they redeemed themselves. He gave a great speech, and I hope he gets out there for Obama. I don't think Biden was in his best form, but he will be great in the end. There is no question about what he believes in and how strongly he will fight for it. GO DEMS. I will be at a huge Democrats Abroad gathering in Mexico City tomorrow night for Obama's speech.

    August 28, 2008 03:07 am at 3:07 am |
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