August 29th, 2008
03:00 PM ET
10 years ago

Gergen: Talk about a bold gamble!

Palin is making activists on both sides of the aisle smile.

Palin is making activists on both sides of the aisle smile.

John McCain's selection of a running mate represents the first one I can remember that has brought smiles to activists on both sides of the aisle.

Among conservatives, one hears nothing but praise for Governor Sarah Palin - she is strongly pro-life, a long-time member of the NRA, a fiscal hawk, and an interesting combination of charm and toughness. She helps to bring the party back to its conservative roots. With the commitments that McCain made at Saddleback that he would run a pro-life administration, social conservatives - especially evangelicals - can now rally to the McCain-Palin ticket with genuine enthusiasm. McCain seemingly is helping to close the enthusiasm gap on his side.

Yet among Democrats, there is lots of positive acclaim as well. From their perspective, the one argument that McCain has used so effectively against them is that we live in a highly dangerous world - he repeatedly calls terrorism "the transcendent issue of our times" - and Barack Obama has so little national security experience that he represents too much of a risk. Now, say the Dems, here we have a 72-year-old candidate - the oldest to ever seek the office for the first time - and he has asked someone to be a heartbeat away from the presidency who has no national security experience at all - none, nada. Democrats think McCain has completely undercut his strongest argument. They are also relieved that he didn't choose Mitt Romney, who brings a lot of economic understanding and would have been helpful in a big battleground state like Michigan.

So, smiles on both sides. What is uncertain is how uncommitted voters will respond - especially women who might have voted for Hillary Clinton. Clearly, the GOP is betting that Sarah Palin can bring them back. Are they right? Meanwhile, Democrats have told me that a lot of Clinton women will be shooed away by Palin's conservatism - and some will even be insulted. Are they right?

Would love your thoughts.

Read other reaction from Paul Begala and Ed Rollins

Filed under: David Gergen • Sarah Palin
soundoff (145 Responses)
  1. Alice, NY

    I am very insulted by McCains choice!!..and i am a lifelong Republican!!

    Does he think us women are stupid??? He clearly picked this palin women simply because that is what she is.. A WOMEN!! Regardless of how experienced she is, she is being used to win McCain female votes.. Hilarys votes!! He thinks all who voted for hilary voted for her because she is a women..INSULTING!!

    this is one women changing her vote to Obama!!

    August 29, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  2. Kiah

    And the Dems will have the last laugh on this one. Because picking just any old woman wasn't the trick. Picking the right woman was the way to hit the nail on the head. Palin is NO Hillary and she certainly will do nothing to help McCain's judgment...

    August 29, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  3. DC

    You ask if women voters will be wooed or insulted. I'm absolutely insulted. Does he think that we're stupid? He's pandering for votes and it simply will not work.

    August 29, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  4. MIKE


    August 29, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  5. Rudy NYC

    I agree, a gamble it is. The "inexperience issue" is now a wash.

    August 29, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  6. W O W WO W

    G A M B L E ? ? ? D A V E----–T H I S----E L E C T I O N--–

    W I L L--–B E---D E C I D E D--–B Y--- T H E--W O M E N-

    W H O---W E R E---I G N O R E D

    August 29, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  7. Steven

    Democrats should hold on before jumping on Palin for being inexperienced. She has more EXECUTIVE experience than Obama does (governor vs. senator). So actually this doesn't undercut the republican argument of lack of experience at all: After all, who would you rather have, an inexperienced VP who can learn from the very experienced McCain, or an inexperienced PRESIDENT in Obama. Pretty simple to me.

    August 29, 2008 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  8. ben

    As I said before, When Obama is president, he should make Hillary Chief justice of the Supreme court.That would protect womens rights for 8 years, and still leave the door open for Hillary to run again for president. She will not fail the next time.

    August 29, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  9. Brian Rich

    Only clueless "sheep" women will vote for Palin in place of Clinton. I mean seriously, she's the polar opposite of Clinton. Agreeing with Clinton's policies, but voting for Palin because she's on the ticket, is pure sexism in its finest form. If you agree with Clinton, you agree with Obama. End of story.

    August 29, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  10. joy

    Does McCain really think this will sway women voters? It is a insult to women everywhere, to pick a woman, not for her experience or values, but just to have a woman on the ticket to attract women. Well McCain, we are smarter than that. We vote for values and change, not just gender. Now that is real feminism!

    August 29, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    McCain is running scared. Not only is he out of touch with the average citizen but has reinforce the neagative image of his age. What a great gift to the Democrats.

    August 29, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    It is interesting that Democrats claim the selection of Palin negates McCain's argument that experience is important, but they seem entirely clueless to the fact that Obama has preached change and reform, yet selects Biden who has been entrenched in the Senate even longer than McCain.

    Obama's first big decision and he gives us the same old politics.
    McCain's first big decision and he gives us something new.
    It looks like one of the candidates understands that "change" is more than just a campaign banner.

    August 29, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  13. Matt, Pittsburgh


    Gov. Palin as you stated – is strongly pro-life, a long-time member of the NRA, a fiscal hawk, and an interesting combination of charm and toughness.

    How about that, a candidate who actually commits to something (as apposed to voting 'present').

    Even if she can only 1/10 the reform to Washington that she brought to Alaska, we will be a far better nation for it.

    August 29, 2008 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  14. Liz

    Bold? Try insane! This VP will energize HRC supporters to support Obama. This woman is to the right of Bill O'Reilly! This is McCain's kneejerk reaction to Obama's speech last night–decisions made out of fear are rarely wise!!!

    August 29, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  15. Scott L

    According to people on this board, if you don't like Obama you are a racist. Now the argument is turned on you Democrats....if you don't like Palin, then you are sexist. Touche suckers!!!! And oh btw you discriminate against McCain because of his age (which is against the law you know, law? do you even know what the law is?)

    August 29, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  16. Enough

    I am laughing so much my tummy hurts. This should be a movie called "The National Lampoon's GOP." Haaaaaaaaaaa ha ha my tummy hurts! McCain and his preference for beauty pageant types with no substance...ha ha haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

    August 29, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  17. Bob

    So she is a disaster because she has no national security experience. Maybe so, but that equals Barry O's experience too. However, she also more experience in an executive office than either of the Obiden twins.

    August 29, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  18. Ex-Republican for Obama

    This lady only has experience in regards to corruption and big oil. She sinks to the lowest moral denominator when tough choices have to be made (although she hasn't faced anything really tough, other then what her incompetence distorts into 'feeling' like it's tough.

    We can not let such a morally deprived dirt bag be with a heart attacks distance from the White House. She has no ability to lead, nor manage, nor inspire. She doesn't even know what the VP is supposed to do...what a joke this former beauty bimbo is. It takes more then a bikini in the rest of this country to get elected, we don't place our requirements as low as Alaska does.

    August 29, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  19. Steve

    John McCain and Sarah Palin from the RNC= Darrell Hammond and Tina Frey from SNL!!! I can't wait for that skit!

    August 29, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  20. Feminist

    Any Republican or die-hard Clintonista who is applauding Palin is an absolute hypocrite.

    They have been screaming "Experience, Experience!" for a year and a half now in reference to Senator Obama, who was a state legislator for eight years and a US Senator for four years.

    Sarach Palin was mayor of a town of 9,000 people until two years ago. She has never dealt with foreign affairs.

    Hypocrisy pure and simple.

    August 29, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  21. TyWebb

    David, I love your perspective as always.

    This selection will mute Biden somewhat in the debate. He can't be perceived as a bully, can he?

    How can a woman be against a woman's right to choose and expect to win unless the Democratic voters let their spite for Obama and Hillary's non-selection get the best of their judgment?

    August 29, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    Palin wasn't even qualified to be Miss Alaska. But hey, she won Miss Congeniality. Hopefully, she's prepared to be congenial with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

    August 29, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  23. Shelly

    As a woman, I will never vote for McCain because of what he stands for. Palin is just as bad as McCain. Just because she is a woman does Not mean I will vote for the McCain/Palin ticket.

    I'm just sure who McCain thinks he is by pulling this stunt but, I think, no I know that women are a lot smarter than he gives us credit for.

    Welcome to the White House Omaba. McCain just made sure of it.

    August 29, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  24. Chut Pata

    Yes a bold gamble by throwing the "Gender Card". Well it did not work for Hillary and it wont work for McCain. Just like fear-mongering did not work for Hillary and wont work for McCain.

    McCain is out of idea and recycling Hillary's ideas. This McCain, the man with experience and no judgement. Otherwise he would not adopt the tactics that failed Hillary, and would fail him.

    August 29, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  25. Dollar Ed

    Simply put, not a bad choice because she is a strong conservative.

    But if Obama's two "weaknesses" are national defense democrats and Clinton feminists, how does a the inexperienced governor of a tiny state, female and committed to undermining the civil rights of women, help at all?

    McCain is insulting the intelligence of both swing groups.

    August 29, 2008 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
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