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. Dean Haehnel

    I grew up with Tim Pawlenty in So St Paul, MN. We attended grade school, junior high and high school together. We played grade school softball together. We studied together. He told me one day that someday he would be President. I think he will. I don't think he is ready for it at this time, nor do I think he should be second fiddle to John McCain. Tim is a great moderate Republican. I like his fiscal conservatism, but I can't vote for him if he is part of the McCain ticket. I don't want 4 more years of George Bush. Now in 8 years...that would be a different story.

    August 28, 2008 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  2. Steve

    I'm for neither. One cannot remeber how many houses he has and the other cannot pick an appropiate comedian to headline a fundraiser or know what city he's watching tv and talking to his daughter.

    And we want these two with their hands on the trigger? I hope not.

    ps I was a republican I have now left the party!

    August 28, 2008 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  3. Justin in CA

    No Hillary = No Obama is a stupid stance to take for a childish mind that cannot rationalize like an adult. It just shows how shallow you are and that you were never voting for the issues but just who you liked best. this is not a high-school election for god sake. This is life and death.

    August 28, 2008 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  4. Rose

    I think Michelle Obama will make a wonderful and gracious First Lady to our country. And bringing children back into the White House will be a breath of fresh air that the country needs now. The both of them will be a welcome addition of young Presidents and First Wives, as in the Kennedy's, Clinton's. The country needs to see that Obama is for the working families that have children by having his children in the White House. This would be a wonderful change instead of having the "old" McCain's in the White House with no kids and a very stuck up and unfriendly Cindy McCain. We need the energy of young people in the White House.

    August 28, 2008 09:09 pm at 9:09 pm |
  5. Cupper

    Sen. Pat Roberts (KS) is now the eighth Republican senator to announce that they will not attend the GOP Convention in St. Paul, Minn., next month.

    Four others who’ve announced they won’t be attending are — Ted Stevens (AK), Elizabeth Dole (NC), Gordon Smith (OR), and Susan Collins (ME). All are running for re-election in close races.

    Three other GOP senators who are retiring this year have also said they’ll skip the St. Paul festivities — Larry Craig (ID), Chuck Hagel (NE) and Wayne Allard (CO).

    Two members, Senator Sununu (R-NH) and Senator Wicker (R-MS), have not yet made a decision on attending the convention.

    The Rats are jumping ship!!

    I can't blame them considering the absolute failure of the Repuglicans

    And what McSame is offering. More McWar

    August 28, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  6. Kevin

    It is interesting to see the Gallup poll already showing a convention bump for Obama, but the election is not tomorrow. It will be interesting to see if the momentum generated from this convention actually keeps up. Also the Clintons and Mrs Obama have a lot to do with connecting to those undecided independents.

    August 28, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  7. Michael from Houston

    Being a democrat and an avid supporter of Obama (and white) but also a long time Clinton fan I am afraid that stories about polling inaccuracy about race will certainly be true. The only question is to what extent. I hope David Gergen is right and the 4-6 points mentioned by the strategist is high. I don't see how the democrats could overcome that sort of disadvantage.

    Regarding Pawlenty, if the Republicans think they may have as much as a 6 point cushion they can afford a safer choice. We'll see as the evening progresses or perhaps tomorrow. I find Republican tea leaves more bitter than Democratic ones so they are harder to read.

    August 28, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  8. No McCain No How

    WHOOOOOO WHOOOOOO i mean WHOOOOOOO WHOOOOOOO AL GORE JUST KILLLLLLLED IT....from Bush to Chaney to McCain via the environment to Iraq back with a platinum I TOLD YOU SO....hahahahahahaaha OMG< OMG OMG Al Gore just let them HAAAAAAAVVVVVVVEEEEEE IT!!!!! what can McCain say? hell even Arnold wont go to the RNC convention, and he is one of their speakers....Dear John, it is NOT to late to bow out, just say you have mental health me we will believe you....WOW WOW WOW AL
    p.s. those lobbyist Al was talking about....they ALL work on McCain's campaign...bye bye Nancy, Charlie, Randy, Leslie Sanchez, bye bye Phil Gramm and the rest Americans want our country back...we aint askin this time WE ARE TAKING IT BACK!!!! VOTE THE ONLY RIGHT CANDIDATE VOTE OBAMA

    August 28, 2008 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  9. Dyan, MN

    Pawlenty is a 'meh' choice. It will neither hurt nor help McCain. Actually, it may hurt him because his lack of national experience will stick out like a sore thumb when he goes up against Biden.

    I agree with the Repubican strategist who said that O bama's race will cost him come November. It's sad, but there will be a large number of people who will not vote for him simply because of race. It's even sadder that we won't discuss the issue before hand.

    I think the convention has been a huge success. My only complaint is that the networks, who get their broadcasting license for free from the government, is not forced to carry the entire convention. The airwaves belong to the American people and the networks make a ton of money using those airwaves, it's very llittle to ask that they air our conventions once every four years.

    August 28, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  10. Lori

    I have appreciated your even-handed comments throughout this political season. Mostly, as a former English teacher I mostly appreciate your use of "an historic" correctly, when most of your peers say "a historic." Thank you for all you do, David.

    August 28, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  11. Joe

    ALL men and women of good faith must rise up for a change enough is enough. Gop and all blood suckers must go!!!!!!!!!!!!
    This is a challenge to Humanity!, no doubt.
    ALL the lies, ALL the spining, all the blood spill, ALL THE KILLING MUST COMES TO AN END., ALL the war mongers must be stop and put to their place.
    "Whatever goes up must come down" The time is here!
    No going back !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!now or never

    August 28, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  12. Russ Wilson

    I realize the republican convention will be much the same, but as I watch the silly political behavior on TV, my thought is "and these people want us to turn over the security of the country to them?" I'm not sure they should be allowed to vote.

    August 28, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  13. Mary Gray

    As a young teenager and young adult I was active in thecivil rights movement in the deep south. My family was traditionally Southern and really didn't understand or support my efforts. Tonight is truly historic and amazing to me. My Dad who is 93 plans to vote for Obama and he's a life long Republican. Things in this world can change and there is hope for the future.

    August 28, 2008 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  14. Andrew

    Really? A Temple? C'mon... if that's the case then the Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, White House, Capital Building, etc are all temples. Give me a break. It is designed to look like the beautiful architecture of D.C., plain and simple.

    And to think that you're implying that Sen. Obama is the antichrist... wow. The right's constant attack on the faith of democrats is ridiculous. You do not own religion, you do not own Christianity, you do not own the moral highground, you do not own patriotism.

    August 28, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  15. Maris


    People are indeed afraid of change and Barack is proposing a lot of it as Al Gore said.

    My question is this: If 4-6 percent (as your friend suggested) won't vote for Obama because he is black, what do you suppose the number is for the group of voters that are not willing to vote for the big changes but may not necessarily like McCain? I'd guess it's a sizeable number.

    August 28, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  16. JT from TN

    This is history, rather your democcrat, republician, or independent watch this . You will remember this the rest of your life and no we're not fully at that moment where color of skin doesn't matter but this is a step in the right direction. I am thank that one day my skin, my disability, or my belief will not stop me from living out my freams.

    August 28, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  17. Louise

    Hi, I am amazed, why would Senator McCain pick Gov. Pawlenty? What does he bring, Mr. McCain has critized Obama for being inexperienced, is Gov Pawlenty ready to be President? That is the first
    requirement, how does Gov. Pawlenty meet that requirement, he is a lightweight, he is going to credibily debate Senator Biden? What happened to Mitt Romney, this is a guarenteed loss for McCain, deal over! By the way this is bigger than big, who would ever believe this could happen, God bless us all that we can see this to fruition. The United States will immediately gain favor in the world, even if people don't think it is important, we need help in this world. God bless Obama, and the people who are going to elect him.

    August 28, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  18. William Fisher

    Wednesday night at the Democratic convention was both galvanizing and electrifying. The events went well beyond the normal "annointing" proceeeding we have become accustomed to. It was a story line that worked through to a necessary conclusion. In a sense, as some of the pundits have characterized it, it was high theatre. But in my opinion, it was theatre that one could savor, and one that seemed at the same time to be staged AND real.

    August 28, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  19. Dr. K

    I'd like to think that Obama losing votes because of race is going to be close to zilch. I believe it's a very small number. The intelligence of the man and his capabilities are obvious and exceptional. My reluctant support of McCain is *solely* based on policy. I wish McCain was as sharp and impressive as Obama or that Obama was more conservative. Either situation would make me more happy.

    Having said that, I believe we have a bigger problem in this country when it comes to religion, especially (and ironically) among evangelical Christians. I believe the number of votes that Romney lost in the primary due to being the wrong brand of Christian (or the absurd notion of not Christian at all) is bigger than the race issue for Obama or the gender issue for Hillary.

    August 28, 2008 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  20. Ray Fisher

    If I were the Democrats, I would present as positive a message as possible, embracing change looking toward the future and leave the negative words to those without thoughts or anything else to talk about. Perhaps they could set an envirofriendly example to the world by leaving all convention venues spotless. Next convention I hope they aim for a 100% energy independent site with wind turbines, solar panels, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, etc... Seems reasonable with the 2012 Olympics dedicated to Hydrogen energy and fuel cells!!! Curiously, neither party speaks about hydrogen energy yet DOE has it on schedule to be mainstream beginning 2010...

    August 28, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  21. Roger

    I wish we could get beyond the race issue and discuss qualifications. Unfortunately, neither of the 2 candidates have the qualifications we need to heal this country and correct the mistakes of the past 8 years. Obama is like George Bush in that he would be another on-the-job training president and you see where that went. We can't afford it. So McCain is the 'lesser of 2 evils'. At least he has the military background we need at this time to get us out of the Middle East. Obama plans to stay in the Middle East (just moving the troops from Iraq to Afghanistan doesn't solve anything). It is just as wrong to vote for a candidate just because he or she is a Democrat or Republican just as it is just as wrong to vote for a candidate just because he or she is black, hispanic, etc. Be careful of those who promise CHANGE! We will have change not matter who is elected (even George Bush promised and actually brought us change – not that it was the kind we wanted).

    August 28, 2008 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  22. a Republican

    "In closing… McCain may have been a good soldier, but he's no leader. Obama's a leader we will follow." – well said and agreed 100%.

    This country needs a new direction, Bush is the the worst president ever in the modern US history....

    I will vote for Obama in November....

    August 28, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  23. Michael from Houston

    This is slightly off the subject. Wish I could talk politics with you guys. I love my wife dearly but if I try to talk politics with her she may not be my wife for long. Enjoy your coverage and commentary.

    August 28, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  24. TheRejectFrom2000-McLame!

    Who cares who the old geezer from Arizona selects for VP. Anyone voting for the republiCON ticket must have amnesia or is totally stupid! What the neoCONS have done to America during the reign of bush/dick will take years to reverse. Bastards should be tried for crimes against humanity!

    August 28, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  25. Sara

    Constitutional scholar over an OAF any day !!!!!!

    Obama/Biden '08

    August 28, 2008 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
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