September 3rd, 2008
11:48 PM ET
6 years ago

Gergen: Palin delivers

Palin addressed the RNC Wednesday.
Palin addressed the RNC Wednesday.

Republicans got everything they could possibly want from Sarah Palin tonight: she was a large, confident personality - one Democratic friend ruefully wrote that she reminded him of Ann Richards - and she delivered an extremely well crafted speech. Before the speech, Republican strategists told Dana Bash of CNN that they hoped that she would show viewers "a common touch with executive presence", and she definitely succeeded at that.

Three things in particular stood out:

1. She joked that the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull is ...lipstick. Clearly, in the next few weeks, she will play the role of a pit bull with lipstick. My sense is that she will very likely connect with blue collar America but may be much less successful in suburban America.

2. Her personal story is also one that will relate well to people. She has a quality of seeming like the girl next door.

3. She showed a lot of confidence in addressing energy toward the end of the speech, which gave her more substantive depth.

Now let us be clear: there will be tons of Democrats and others who will disagree with her and will take sharp exception with her views. Her jabs at Barack Obama and the Democrats were surprisingly personal at times. And she will face tough questioning ahead from the press. After all, there are still some serious questions about what kind of president she might be. We are going to have a rough and tumble race down the home stretch.

soundoff (1,124 Responses)
  1. K. Norris

    Sarah Palin – Divisive political attack dog..."distancing herself from the Republican Party"...yeah right! She suddenly embraces the Republican Party because she puts her political career first; before family and country. She displayed her family like a dog-and-pony show knowing full well that her 17-year-old unwed pregnant daughter would be the focus of the international press. How could you put your own daughter through that? I'm sure her 17-year-old daughter did not have a say in the matter...very pitiful and sad. I'm glad she decided to attack Barack Obama personally; that leaves her wide open for counterattacks of which I hope there are many.

    September 4, 2008 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  2. David M.

    Mr. Gergen:

    Mediocre speech I thought. What she needs to do is stop hiding behind the GOP and address things like the Alaska Independence Party, her pork barrel spending, controversial statements by her former pastor whom she still supports, etc. If they continue to let the rumor mill run wild without getting in front of these things, the public will make up its own mind whether some of these things are true or not.

    September 4, 2008 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  3. Scott, Knoxville TN

    I think it is important to note the contrast between Joe Biden's speech and Sarah Palin's. I am a democrat, but Palin's speech was far superior to that of Biden's, at least rhetorically. I have been consistently frustrated by the failure of my party to effectively attack the right and its lies. The VP speech was the place for Joe Biden to do just that; but he failed to fill the role of attack dog that I, and many other democrats, felt that Biden would easily play. Election after election, the republicans have attacked the Democratic Party as "limousine liberals," the media elite, and out of touch with "traditional american values," yet democrats have been unable to counter-punch and, as a result, we have lost.

    Sarah Palin's speech was sarcastic, condescending (community organizers have no responsibilities), cutting, and effective. The Democratic Party must return to the legacy of party leaders like LBJ and Ann Richards, the people who fought back against the GOP and the big bag of BS that they were, and still are, serving up to the American people.

    This antagonistic speech by Sarah Palin should be viewed by democrats as a liscense to vigorously and mercilessly attack the republican ticket.

    September 4, 2008 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  4. Obama 08: 60, white, female.

    Accomplished what?

    September 4, 2008 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  5. olivia doyne

    Are you kidding me? Her speech was beyond childish...I thought she was running for vice president of student council, not vice president of the United States. Her participation in this campaign is insulting...as far as I'm concerned, she should go back to her small town in Alaska and take her conservative views with her.

    September 4, 2008 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  6. Debbie

    This is to the CNN commentators: Why does everyone have to tip toe round the POW Factor and the WOMAN factor. It's really getting old. I found hers and many other speeches offensive. The Obama campaign has been very good about not attacking her this week. But it's okay for her to attack with lies. Let's have some fair analysis from the media.

    September 4, 2008 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  7. nikki

    I can not believe this woman would put down community organizers....did she forget all politics are local?
    how many people started at the bottom and worked their way up. she started as s city council member...what if someone had criticized that before she became governor...she is a joke and a puppet...I hope she can take it like a man...bend over!

    September 4, 2008 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  8. bonnie

    Sarah Palin gave a great speech this evening. She proved she is qualified for this job. She will attract not only "hockey moms" but also families with children with disabilities, and middle america. These are the Americans that the democrats have taken for granted. I find it ironic to read comments from democrats accusing John McCain of being an elitist but refuse to believe that Barack Obama is one. What I saw tonight was a strong, confident woman not afraid to take on the left wing liberals. She stated facts that democrats are afraid to face. Her speech was truthful something democrats are running away from. Sarah Palin I applaud you and I look forward to voting for you in November. And democrats this is one woman you lost to the republicans!!!!!!!!

    September 4, 2008 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  9. Shane

    Sarah Palin sure has got a lot of democrats panties in a bunch. They sure can dish it out but they can't take it. This Roland guy I thought was going to cry on national TV, Don't cry Barack will take care of you with 1 of his many social programs, oops that if he wins which is very doubtful. See you in November chumps

    September 4, 2008 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  10. Michael

    I have to say, while she gave a good speech, I have never heard so many divisive, vitriolic, personal attacks in my life. If this is all the Republicans have is mean and divisive attacks then this race is over before it begins. They have said nothing as to what they are going to do about the economy, healthcare, energy prices, education, rising cost of college, the list goes on. What happen to a race on the issues, McCain’s advisor has already said this is not about the issues. I have news for John McCain, I am voting on the issues and right now I see nothing that suggest I should vote for McCain. Nothing he has put out suggest he is any different than Bush. He has admitted on TV that he has voted with Bush 90% of the time. So the question remains, what do I get with McCain that I haven’t already gotten from the Bush Administration? The only thing I have got with the Bush Administration is war, high prices, a sagging economy, lack of respect around the world, the list goes on. What are you going to do for me McCain/Palin? Is it lip service or do you actually have a plan? Enough of the personal attacks, what about the issues?

    September 4, 2008 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  11. Robin

    Not good, it was a very condescending speech that didn't talk about any of the issues that we are facing. Palin doesn't have any solutions to the energy crisis, she doesn't have any idea on how to get us out of Iraq, she doesn't have a long term vision on ending our oil dependency. This speech was more about her credentials compared to Obama's which is hardly comparable.

    September 4, 2008 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  12. Independent for McCain

    she simply hit the nail on the head. she can relate to my family, people of America. Shes no pushover and shes our next vice president. I was weary at first, but this woman is amazing and captivating.

    NO WAY....NO HOW.....NOBAMA!

    September 4, 2008 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  13. Jackie

    A little humor is ok, especially when it's self-deprecating. But I thought she was superior and almost nasty. Like a mean high school girl. It was creepy in that high school flashback kind of way. I feel like she's a lot like Bush – vindictive.

    September 4, 2008 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  14. Linda Smith

    She delivered?!? Mercifully, she delivered the end of a horrible evening of mean-spirited speeches by mean-spirited people, with mindless, chanting delagates urging them on – while those of us at home were barfing in our chairs!

    September 4, 2008 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  15. Jeff in Phoenix

    I didn't realize smarmy and sarcastic was the way to go in a political race. I guess I was a fool to expect substance and respect.

    September 4, 2008 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  16. Rick in Az

    As an INDEPENDENT voter. The Republicans tonight TRULY made me feel comfortable and right about voting Democratic this election. For the last 2 days these people have just slammed Obama and the Democrats and not mentioned 1 single thing about the economy or ideas for improving America. As far as Palin goes. She looked so akward and uncomfortable at times during her speech that it was obvious that she wasn't familiar with it. But, she did show that she could be as nasty as the rest of the republican party without offering any solutions at all

    September 4, 2008 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  17. S. Grierson

    I thought that Senator Palin came off as very arrogant. Frankly, I'm really surprised that she questioned Senator Obama's experience, considering that she has so little herself, even less than Obama. The personal attacks really turned me off. In fact, all the negativity during the evening, the mocking, the smugness, were really over the top. It made me wonder what kind of leaders McCain/Palin would be if elected, and what they would say about other countries' leaders they don't like.

    September 4, 2008 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  18. Dems Unite

    She came across as a total female pitt bull...in lipstick. No need to tiptoe around her. She's not a victim, she's a target. Can't wait for the debates to see what she says when there's no teleprompter. It would have been better received by me if she had more substance. Instead she came across as the person trying to battle a kid in school that obviously was superior, so when all else fails, you talk about his highwaters...or in this case, his stage props. And I agree with Roland Martin. Belittling the community organizers is a great way to give the middle finger to the person that relies on the community organizers when the factories close and their job is shipped overseas, when they become a victim of subprime mortgage practices and their home is being foreclosed on, or when they can't get to work because gas is too outrageous. And on top of it, she made women look awful!

    September 4, 2008 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  19. NYObamacan

    However well she delivered the speech, the content did not answer two questions that are fundemental in my mind.

    What makes her qualied to be President of the US of A on day 1?

    What role will her extreme views on teaching creationism in school and banning abortion even in the case or rape and incest have on a McCain administration or God forbid in a Palin Administration?

    September 4, 2008 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  20. Sharon

    To look at Sarah Palin's experience is all well and good as she may have to take on the role of leadership if John McCain was to be unable to perform his duties as President, but to pit her's against Barack Obama's, misses the point. I think that if the argument is to be made that Barack Obama has no executive experience then it should also be stressed that neither does John McCain. Mr. Guiliani made it a point to go to great lengths tonight to get that point across, seemingly oblivious to the fact that his new best friend is in the same boat.

    September 4, 2008 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  21. JB

    What I learned from Palin's speech.

    1. She's pretty hot.
    2. She's sorta well spoken.
    3. Nothing else.

    She was sent out to headline "Attack Obama" night and even got upstaged by Giuliani in that aspect. This convention has taken a mean and bitter tone from the start. I'm tired of hearing them blame the Democrats for the state of the country when they've been running the country for the past 8 years. Did anyone outside the arena buy this dreck?

    September 4, 2008 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  22. Kathy S

    Barracuda - biosch.

    September 4, 2008 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  23. susie

    I am shocked by the anger, hostility and warlike tone that Sarah Palin set. Yes, her self-described Pitbull with Lipstick is appropriate. But I don't think a president with a bad temper supported by a pitbull is my idea of what this country needs now. We need to shift our focus from destroying other Americans who care equally about this country, even if we don't all agree, to the real challenges of the 21st century. Poverty, war, famine, extremes in climate, nuclear waste and terrorism are real issues, which together I think we can overcome.

    September 4, 2008 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  24. Always Been 4 Obama

    This speech did marvelous things............for Obamas campaign. She just united all of us.

    September 4, 2008 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  25. ebby

    I was very disappointed. She delivered nothing. Very risky. All she did was said things about the other candidates which wasn't very nice at all. To top it off it was a bunch of lies.

    You can tell that she is a yes woman.

    Where is the substance? Is she the president already. She suppose to be running for VP oh I forgot McCain is only one heartbeat away.

    Where is the diversity in the audience?

    I give her a point for trying to pull it off.

    All I can say is the kitt gloves are off now.

    Next the debate- will she be able to think and talk on her own.

    Don't forget no cheating with the questions.

    September 4, 2008 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
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