August 28th, 2008
08:51 PM ET
10 years ago

Gergen: Some thoughts as we wait for Obama

The scene at Invesco Field in Denver.

The scene at Invesco Field in Denver.

As we await the acceptance address tonight, a few quick thoughts:

- This is indeed an historic occasion as an African American becomes the nominee of a major political party, and there is good reason for all Americans - not just Democrats - to celebrate the racial progress we have seen. But I also believe that Martin Luther King Jr. would be the first to tell us that we have still not reached the day when we look beyond the color of one's skin and instead look to the content of their character. To me, one of the biggest questions of this campaign is how many votes Obama may lose because he is black. (to be fair, he will also win some votes because he is black). From my perspective, it is impossible to measure right now. One top GOP strategist told me privately that he thinks it will cost Obama 4-6 points nationally. That sounds very high to me. But I am very curious what you think.

Watch: Gore says Obama is a chance for a new beginning

- So far, my sense is that this convention has been very helpful to Obama and the Democrats. The party finally seemed to come together last night, and much of the credit belongs to both Clintons. At a moment of personal pain, they put a smile on their faces and came out four-square for Obama. To be sure, there have been a lot of hours spent early each night without much of significance occurring (why not shorten these conventions to two nights?), but the closing hour to an hour and a half each night has been highly successful - a series of first class speeches by Michelle Obama and the two Clintons. Too early yet to measure the political impact, but Gallup tracking is reporting tonight that so far– half-way through last night - Obama has enjoyed a 6 point bounce. We'll see. Curious again about your view.

Watch: Lewis: 'We stil have a dream'

- In the meantime, we are also awaiting the Republicans. There are several signs tonight that John McCain may be choosing Tim Pawlenty as his running mate. We will all have a lot to say about that if it occurs - strikes me as a "safe" choice (popular 2nd term governor of Minnesota, social conservative, blue collar roots) but if the Republicans believe that a key requirement for going to the White House is whether you are "ready" to be commander in chief, the question arises: Pawlenty? What do you think. (Please know that other names are floating wildly and that there is some talk that John McCain may wish to postpone the convention if the storm grows in the Gulf).

Here comes Al Gore, so will leave things here. But again, would welcome your thoughts.

soundoff (98 Responses)
  1. Dan

    Yah... I was thinking about this for a while, but now I'm pretty sure that the Democrats will pretty much own the Whitehouse for 24 years or so because of what George Bush has done to the Republican party's image in American politics.

    August 28, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  2. Georgie

    I don't care if he is black, white, or purple with polka dots, put Obama next to McCain and there is no choice, it's Obama all the way. This nation cannot afford McCain and the continuance of the Bush disaster. Color is irrelevant. It's our combined necessity that will bring a diverse group together to propel Obama to the Presidency.

    August 28, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  3. James in Ohio

    Ugh, I love and greatly respect Al Gore, but he is rushing his speech, and it sounds less inspiring and more like a boring College Professor than it should.

    August 28, 2008 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  4. No Hillary = No Obama

    It's more like waiting for Godot. This is ridiculous. What a contrived and inflated nominee. Exploiting MLK Jr. legacy to try and create his own. MLK was a martyr for the cause, not a rock star. MLK was the real deal, a true hero, not a media created one. He earned his spurs, he walked the talk. He had a dream – Obama has an ego need.

    August 28, 2008 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  5. Kris Sanz

    Does any other then me find it odd, that with all the "antichrist" guf flying around, Obama chose a Temple to accept his nomination?

    Hilton Head Island, SC

    August 28, 2008 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  6. BuzzC

    He should choose Colin Powell to blow the dems outta the water! 🙂

    August 28, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  7. Doug

    Gore's speechwriter did great- the comparison to Lincoln was perfect. Too bad he delivered it like a robot.

    August 28, 2008 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  8. Sara

    Tell Crowley she belittles her grasp of the english language when she uses rockstar like a four letter word.

    August 28, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  9. JImmy in California

    David, I have listened to your wisdom for a long time now and in most instances tent to agree with your analysis. I am of the opinion we are seeing the beginning of the new generation and it's conventions of the future. Like you, I am used to the business end of the convention and then the parties after but what we are seeing is a different approach to conventions. It is the new generation David. I suspect our time has come and gone.

    August 28, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  10. Pat

    I used to live in MN...Pawlenty is a joke. The king of "Rob Peter to pay Paul"... Cuts support to local governments which lowers the state's take in property taxes. Then the local governments are forced to raise their taxes to make up for that shortfall. Don't tax Paul so that you, Peter, look really good. Why people think he is successful is b beyond me. Even though I cannot stomach John McCain, Pawlenty would be a stupid choice. He is by no means a good choice for any one.....

    August 28, 2008 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  11. Grant

    Never heard of Pawlenty. Weak choice.

    August 28, 2008 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  12. Sara

    CNN is in this for MCWARMONGER !!!!!!

    Always berating and belittling Obama and putting him down. I'm sick of CNN

    August 28, 2008 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  13. Peter of Oregon

    You hit the nail on the head with all three points David.

    Let me spend some time on the first point. There are several factors working against Barack Obama. The first being his race which may have been offset to some degree by being raised in a non-afrocentric environment, by a white mother and white grand parents in Hawaii. This may make him appear a little safer to some culturally conservative Americans. Another factor which may even out-weigh his race is his platform of change. There are books about change aversion by those currently in power. For many of these Barack Obama is a serious threat. He's gone a step further by telling them he'll hit them in their pocket books. Another factor that's been exasperated by the love Obama's been shown by the rest of the world is that he's far removed from the average American. Hence we see the focus of Republicans on labeling him a celebrity, non-patriotic, extreme. Doing so would seperate Obama from his policies which are aimed at the average American. Republicans want you and me to think that Obama is not one of us. This had received some success as shown in the recent polls, but I believe the convention may likely reverse this.

    In closing... McCain may have been a good soldier, but he's no leader. Obama's a leader we will follow.

    August 28, 2008 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  14. George

    No matter whom McCain picks, he will lose, it is the Bush's administration and his failed 8 years that will cause Republicans to lose definitely in November.

    August 28, 2008 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  15. Doug

    Hard to imagine McCain picking Romney simply on the basis of the number of houses he owns. That, then, becomes the theme of the campaign for the Dems. He's almost forced to pick Pawlenty, who, while open to inexperience critique, at least has only one house and calms the "party of the rich, for the rich, by the rich," jag.

    August 28, 2008 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  16. Observation

    David, I'm so disappointed in you, I thought you where different from the other political commentators, but your not. Why would you and CNN continure to perpetuate racism during this election. It seems to me that the only ones that spreads racism, is the media. Media like you.

    August 28, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  17. Linda

    Like Martin, I have a dream too – that American's will wake up and see what's at stake with this election and not let the war mongers and oil profiteers and the wealthy and the big lobbyists hijack one more Democratic Presidential candidate's election!

    Yes, blacks will vote for Obama. But let's get real, they've been voting for Democrats for a very long time. Tonight I'm letting my 9 year old stay up to watch Obama give his speech. I want to not only see history in the making, but she's also getting an education on race – and why the color of your skin doesn't matter.

    And for the record, and it shouldn't matter, but I'm white.

    August 28, 2008 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  18. Tom in CA

    If being African-American costs Senator Obama 4-6 points in the national polls, then our nation may as well...still abide by the Jim Crow laws that mandated de jure segregation in all public facilities, with a "separate but equal" status for black Americans and members of other non-white racial groups.

    I pray to the Almighty that we don't go back to that place!

    August 28, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  19. Kamasri

    Mr. Gergen,
    always a pleasure to read are nervous like most Americans who want to shed the not so comfortable feeling about a black / female ...leader/boss know.
    Well take a deep breath and know that you Americans also know when to take a calculated sentimental risk.

    August 28, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  20. Jordan, New York

    As a New Yorker who is constantly surrounded by people of all races and religions, I always felt that racism was nonexistent where I live. But recently I have encountered people who will not vote for Obama solely on the basis of race. As somebody who never knew this racism existed in such a melting pot as New York City until recently, I can definitely see how possible losing 6% nationally based on his race could be. I can only imagine how more racist people would be in areas that are not nearly as motley a crew as NYC is.

    August 28, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  21. Sean

    This is all true. Obama has better prospects this elections than most democrats have had in quite some time. However, this is also my biggest source of concern. A feeling of inevitability, particularly amongst the youth vote, could very well hand the white house to yet another Republican candidate. Get out and vote!

    August 28, 2008 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  22. Max (Miami)

    I guess we'll really know for sure come November.
    Obama needs to knock it out of the park tonight, and not one of his inspirational speeches.....

    Now, it will be his turn to bring our party together, I hope he can do it.

    August 28, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  23. Jeff

    Let the right wing fascist Republicans have it next President Obama. We have had to listen to, suffer and endure their BS for far too long! Speak the truth...for it shall set you (ALL of U.S.) free !!!

    August 28, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  24. Sara

    Take our country back for US

    Obama/Biden '08 – no matter what anybody says !!!!!!!!!

    August 28, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  25. carlo

    I get so upset when I hear DEMOCRATS criticize Obama and say they are voting for McCain. Obama is being held to the highest standard of any presidential campaign. He has more experience than George W. Bush or Bill Clinton had when they ran for President, yet people call him "an empty suit". His proposals are more detailed than any other candidate in history, yet people says he has no plan. Most of the people criticizing him have never even read his plan. When he doesn't fight back, he's a wimp, when he fights back, its "so much for a clean campaign", when it is McCain who promised a clean and honorable campaign. McCain openly panders to the right, the people who have held this country hostage with their fake Christianity, and Obama gets blasted for having a preacher who spoke the truth, and for having a small function with a man who was charged with a crime when Obama was 8 and who has met with Republicans also. McCain has 7 houses he got by cheating on his wife with a rich, selfish heiress who won't even share with her sisters, but Obama bought a house LEGALLY from a man who convicted of a crime that had NOTHING to do with Obama. McCain skated through the Keating Five scandal, and married a woman whose father's fortune was built on illegal activity. The man was a convicted criminal and McCain actually says that he admires him?

    I just wanted to lay out all of these PROVEN facts to show that Obama is watched like a rabbit circled by vultures, waiting for every slip. He's even being criticized for his stage, the SAME kind of stage Bush had in 2004 and the exact same way almost every building and monument in Washington D.C. is structured.

    If Obama doesn't win, we are going to pay a dear price for our hard hearts, bloodthirsty culture, and racial hatred.

    August 28, 2008 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
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