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. Ryan from Cali

    I'm on the left side of the aisle, and if last night didn't make me smile wide enough, this morning did the trick. Thanks, John. I haven't felt this good in ages!

    August 29, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  2. Mike

    Well Puma. If you just wanted to vote for a Woman then dance for Joy. If you wanted Hillary in 2012 then you just cut her throat. McBush has no respect foe women. McNasty only chose a women to steal your Puma votes. Now if McChoice gets elected it will be Palin for President in 2012. Eight more years of Bush. Eight very very long years. Be carefull what you wish for Puma.

    August 29, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  3. Scott, Wichita

    Sure she's a risk, but she's a new face. Obama's biggest arguement has been that McCain has been in Washington for years, and everyone knows his name. Then McCain pulls Palin's name out, and the first question that everyone asks is "who?"

    Everyone knows McCain, Obama, and Biden. They've been all over the news for years. Here's a brand new face for once!

    August 29, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  4. John in Ohio

    Couldn't find a running mate
    In the lower forty-eight
    Made a pick that's not so great
    Thinks to tap Obama hate
    Really wasn't worth the wait
    Hoped Palin would be the bait
    Thought Hill-Bill fans would relate
    To a feminist light-weight
    Pro-life picks don't highly rate
    Pro-choice voters will frustrate
    Obama wins now in Oh-Eight
    Palin pick is just deadweight
    3 E-Vs McCain will take
    And a few from Southern States

    August 29, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  5. Hurricane Hagee

    Your right David,it was bold but laughable too.I cant wait to see what the republican weatherman,Rev.Hagee, says about her.

    August 29, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  6. Democrats are funny

    Lol just a thought:
    He could now have his VP and Cindy in that topless beauty contest and hedge his bet.

    Seriously, looking forward to this ticket, I mean what could McCain do he was screwed so just went with something that could drive a few moments of positive news instead of put peole into a deeper sleep.

    I think this kinda proves he called Condi and Colin and they turned him down...Romney too.

    So now we get old mean guy and a beauty queen, conservatism isn't dying it just ran out of brain power. Well just have to wait till Bucky get reincarnated and the party regains what it needds to be compete.

    August 29, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  7. Joanne Buck

    It might be a slight gamble MR. Gergen, however w/36 yrs of Experience working w/the public/consumer and my first intense intense interest in a Pres Race (as I see how critical it is at this time as we are in trouble w/9.5 nat'l debt ) –
    this one will work for the AMERICAN TAXPAYER.
    Joanne B
    Minneapolis Suburb

    August 29, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  8. Realist

    McCain's pick is certainly a game changer. Palin as VP will move indys and Hillary supporters to Obama in droves

    Game over. Obama/Biden '08

    August 29, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  9. Jim in Orlando

    But !! She has a proven track record of executive achievement and results, and Obama does not. And she kicked the "good old boys butts" in Alaska. All Biden has accomplished in decades of government is proven that he is a tax-and-spend politician, and I would easily submit that Palin has accomplished more for the good in two years than Biden has in over two decades. Joe Biden is left-over meat loaf. Palin is grain-fed prime rib ! There's a new rock star in town !

    August 29, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  10. down with the GOP.

    wow, what a good decision. Because she's awful, and has ABSOLUTELY no experience. Also, if they had any idea of why women were supporting Hillary, they would have never NEVER picked such a conservative woman- who is incredibly pro-life..come on!

    Obama/Biden 08!

    August 29, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  11. Linda31

    Oh my goodness they are so right! This is an insult to Clinton and her supporters. Did McCain really think Hillary's gender was the only reason her supporters were for her? Palin has NOTHING in common with Clinton apart from her gender. Bad move McCain. No, strike that, thank you McCain for making a clear path to the White House for Obama!

    August 29, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  12. Mike, Syracuse NY

    David, Palin may have no foreign policy experience, but McCain has plenty. Besides, Palin has much more executive experience than Obama, which isn't hard to do since he had zip. Besides, Obama hasn't got much more foreign policy experience than Palin, and he's the top of the ticket. How does Palin's lack of foreign policy experience detract from McCain's? Sorry but his Obama's rock tour doesn't count. Palin may not draw all the Hillary supporters, but she will get some, as well as a good share of independents. Hard to say if Romney would have helped more. Finally, McCain can once again raise the maverick banner, which had been starting to look worn.

    August 29, 2008 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  13. Donna

    He has insulted me..I will be RUNNING to vote for Obama/Biden...those that say they will vote for the McCain/Palin ticket were going to vote for McCain regardless of who he choose..

    Make sure when you are reporting your story that you start using lines like "she has to be tough when she goes against Biden at the debate"..we don't want him and the Democrats coming off as being "mean" on her or Ferraro chiming in about the "sexism" going on...

    She wants the job, she'll need to work for it just like a man would have to do.........

    August 29, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  14. Helene

    Miss Alaska is no Hillary. Unknown, extremist, unexperienced. As a democrat, I love this choice !!!

    August 29, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  15. Cynthia

    David, this is a huge gamble. Picking a woman to try and lure the women's vote is not only a gamble but as I see it an insult to women. The Hilliary supporters wanted Hilliary not someone who was chosen to be a "fill-in". I think first and foremost in a woman's mind is the safety of their family. I don't feel it is in the country's best interest to have Palin a heartbeat away from the Presidency. I'm sure there were other Republican women with more experience that he could have chosen. I hope that people will took at the whole picture, Senator McCain's age, Senator McCain's prior health issues, her stance pro life vs pro choice, and her experience.

    August 29, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  16. Dan Ruzicka

    I think that many left of center women are smart enough to view Palin as a dangerous choice as the first female VP. The women who voted for Hillary are largely pro-choice, and that issue alone should give them shutters to put a pro-life woman one heart-beat away from nominating supreme court justices.

    My prediction is that while McCain will get a short-term boost from the favorable press over Palin, more Hillary voters who may have sat this one out on election day will show up and vote for Obama.

    August 29, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  17. jfs Memhis, Tn

    I do not think that after last night ...others on McCain's short list were very happy about being his running mate. If we were to know the truth,
    John might had to work down the list with only Palin agreeing to run with him. I'll bet she was not the first, second ,third, fourth or even fifth choice. No matter how the spin is on this ........I cannot believe that this person was anywhere's near McCain's first choice. I have already made my mind up on Obama, so doesn't matter to me.......but this is simply bizarre !!!

    August 29, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  18. Just Wondering

    Gamble or suicide? That's the question!

    August 29, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  19. Dharmendra Rai

    At least for this election, Palin was not even able to dream the dreams that Hillary gave to those who made the 18M cracks. Only the future Republican primaries will tell whether her party deems her worth that dream or not. Republicans, please don’t play gender or race card.

    August 29, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  20. Don from California

    Yes, all Hillary supporters are insulted.

    August 29, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    John McCain really must think he's playing a game. Someone needs to wake him up and tell him that there are people's lives and livelihoods at stake.

    August 29, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  22. Rudy NYC

    Democrats would have much preferred Romney. Mr Gergen, you forget that Romney lost the primaries because of his full throat endorsements of everything Bush. A Romney pick would have been handed the Democrats the White House on a golden platter, not just silver.

    Romney would have been a "3rd Bush Term" personified. The GOP had no defense against that charge except go negative, which they have done quite extensively this summer. They must address issues at some point.

    The "experience" issue is now a wash.

    August 29, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  23. dee romano

    Hi, Please help me with something.

    Wasn't it the Republicans that accused the Democrats of doing anything to win an election???

    McCain's choice does nothing but show him to be a risky, impulsive individual.

    I was a Hillary supporter who will vote for Obama . Joe Biden was my second choice for President!

    Thank you, dee romano

    August 29, 2008 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  24. Mary Bintz

    yes, your right, comparing these two women is an insult to Hillary Clinton! A one term govenor from a small state does not compare to Hillary Clinton's 30 + years experience, nor will it compare favorably to the experience of Joe Biden. McCain just handed the presidency over to Barack Obama!

    August 29, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  25. Independent from FL

    She is not Hilary, bad choice unless Palin can charm us in the next 2 months, it could help but I'm not sure it can overcome the Obama movement.

    August 29, 2008 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
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