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. Obama/Biden 08

    Come on, Hillary supporters, do not be appeased by Palin! She is nothing even close to how strong and intelligent Hillary Clinton is! Do not let John McCain insult you with this weak replacement of a strong woman.

    August 29, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  2. Stacey

    I am INSULTED! If, God forbid, Mccain won the presidency and did not survive, THIS is what he gives us? A woman with ZERO experience and ZERO appeal to anyone who cherishes her rights??? THIS is absolutely a humiliation!!!

    August 29, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  3. Diane

    This just underscores the fact that McCain "doesn't get it."

    August 29, 2008 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  4. Griff

    Women for Certuries have needed a Representative in Government. Pelosi didn't want Hillary, because thought she (Pelosi) was number one.. Now she will be sorry.. As the Dems will lose, and Another Women will be Highter than her.... Go Women Go!!!! you have waited too long for this...

    August 29, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  5. Michael from Georgia USA

    Senator McCain's selection of Alaska governor Sarah Palin to be his running mate is the clearest indication yet that the Republican nominee is in desperation mode. Obviously Senator McCain believes his only shot at victory is by selecting a partisan unknown to be a heartbeat away from the most powerful office in the world. Senator McCain reveals himself to be another hypocritical politician by selecting someone who has less experience than Senator Obama, an individual who Senator McCain says is "not ready to be president". America deserves better than what the Bush-McCain-Palin team has to offer.

    August 29, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  6. Sharon Plon

    I was a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton and given Palin's conservative politics I wouldn't vote for her in a minute. It is insulting to think that our votes would be swayed so easily.

    August 29, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  7. obama08

    Thank you John McCain, Thank you!! I was actually getting a little worried there for a few weeks.

    August 29, 2008 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  8. Kimberly from Houston, TX

    Sarah Palin is no Hillary Clinton! No thanks McBush!

    August 29, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  9. vic nashville,Tn

    Hi Gergen
    Your Point is right
    This year for Democratic party
    Democratic party had big convention
    But next day Mc Cain control the spot light
    Mc Cain doesn’t have nothing lose in this election because he didn’t have nothing
    Today Mc Cain back on the game
    I like this kind of politics
    Life long democrat and Hillary strong supporter
    Hillary 2012 /Mc Cain/Palin2008

    August 29, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  10. from th


    The president is in a coma. Who do you want to be a heart beat away from the presidency? Biden or Palin?

    The answer to this question says it all. I think Obama can milk this all the way to November.

    August 29, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  11. ben

    Its certainly not a move you make if you are confident in the way your campaign is going.
    This stirs things up, big time. Maybe in his favor, maybe not.
    The point is, this is a high-profile high-risk move that shows some desperation...

    August 29, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  12. JoeBloe

    McCain says Palin has more 'executive experience' than Obama. Well, she also has more 'executive experience' than McCain. What does that say about McCain? Oh yea, she has only been governor of a state tied to OIL! No wonder McCain picked her.

    Or should Cindy start worrying? You need to wonder with his history of cheating on his first wife.

    August 29, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  13. Rob

    Boy gergen hit that Nail on the head. McWar speaks only of how he can win wars. McDraft has cultivated a climate of fear where supposedly only McBomb can save us. Now! If McSurge dies in office we are left with a girl that has no clue about National Security. If the poop hits the fan I will put my money on Biden not Palin.

    August 29, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  14. Jan

    I don't EVER want to hear the Republicans mention anyone on the democratic ticket as having no experience or being "ready on day one". Whatever was McCain thinking when he made this choice???

    August 29, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  15. Let the games begin

    Sarah Palin is a fine person and a good governor from what I've heard. But she's the best available option to John McCain? Of all the respected republicans out there?

    If I'm Cindy McCain, am wondering if Sarah's looks might also have something to do with her selection.

    August 29, 2008 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  16. Don"t Worry

    Don't worry one little bit about any woman standing by another in America even tho we are considered a minority. They will scratch the eyes out of each other, look how they stood up for Hillary! You can count on it, just like the men have always counted on what they know will happen , Every Time.

    August 29, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  17. KJ, GA

    As a democrat, I'm quite happy with MCain's pick for all the reasons mentioned above by fellow democrats. I would've been quite nervous for Obama/ Biden chances of winning in Romney was on the ticket.

    He will bring in some undecided voters, but my sense is the vast majority will be offended by this choice (diehard Hillary supporters) or think he's just pandering for yes, I'm quite happy about where democratic chances stand!

    August 29, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  18. Zak, Chicago

    My mom called me up mad as hell. She was an active Clinton supporter, and she feels like McCain just cheapened everything Sen. Clinton achieved.

    August 29, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  19. Shawn

    Why don't you wait until her full record comes out, she is able to debate and give input, and the analysts do comparisons of all the candidates before you react. All of your reactions are right on line with the DNC. Pure emotion and no substance. I can say the word "change" with the best of them. Maybe I am qualified for the presidency.

    August 29, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  20. CT

    Insulting is right. Republicans just don't get it.

    August 29, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  21. AmyO

    I think this is a desperate attempt for attention and to get women voters. It won't work on this woman and I hope it doesn't work on any others either. Palin is PRO LIFE, which Hillary is not, and voting for McCain/Palin would be a step backward for women and Americans everywhere. Don't be fooled by this ridiculous choice people. Obama/Biden 08!

    August 29, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  22. Tom

    This choice makes a splash but probably won't wear well over time. McCain is grasping at straws. He says he wants to shake up Washington. Are you kidding me? He votes with Bush 90 percent of the time! He just sees that Obama's message of change is working and he is now trying to copy that, just as Bush finally saw that Obama was right about starting to get out of Iraq. Now McCain is trying to get on the progressive bandwagon by putting a woman on his ticket, when in fact he would be a particularly terrible president for women and girls. If she were pro-choice, he might make some inroads into the female vote. As it is, probably not much. Obama/Biden 08! They are the ones who can and will bring the real change this great country deserves!

    August 29, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  23. Sylvia

    I am soooooooooooo happy....I am a Hillary supporter voting McCain!!!!

    Obama who??????

    August 29, 2008 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  24. Hal

    With the selection of Governor Sarah Palin, Senator McCain has demonstrated he lacks the judgement to be President.

    August 29, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  25. JACK

    I voted for Hillary in the primaries and will now vote for Obama. Does McCain think women are stupid? Does he think we would choose Sarah Palin just because she has an (obviously) working uterus? I'm glad he picked her for his running mate because now there is absolutely no chance for the Repugnicans. Talk about out of touch!!!!

    August 29, 2008 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
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