September 4th, 2008
11:50 PM ET
10 years ago

Gergen: McCain shows he will be formidable


John McCain and Sarha Palin are the 2008 Republican presidential ticket. (Photo: Mike Roselli/CNN)

A few thoughts as John McCain takes his bows: one cannot leave that speech without having enormous respect for him as a war hero and patriot. His retelling of his story tonight was extremely moving. I have long been a fan of John McCain the human being and I came away even more impressed tonight. It is worth remembering that a McCain has fought in every American war since 1776.

In terms of addressing America's big challenges, however, I found the speech much less compelling. It was a very general recitation of fairly standard Republican approaches (how is he really different from Bush on policy?), and it did not address many issues such as getting us out of an economic ditch, heading off the worst financial crisis since the Depression, exploding health care costs, and more. Overall, I thought that part of the speech was thin.

Kudos to McCain for leaving personal partisan rancor out of the speech. Personally, I wish that he had curbed some of that earlier in the convention.

Overall, I came away believing that the McCain-Palin ticket will be very formidable this fall. And even though the speech was long, I thought that when one judges its political impact, I would give it an A.

soundoff (94 Responses)
  1. Roofin Reality, Houston, Tx.

    The speech seemed disjointed, talked over thru applause and not put together very well.

    He did not seem to give very many specifics, and the ones he did, such as on energy (in terms of drilling, more alternative fuels, etc.), his record is different than what he said.

    As a side note, this was not the place for protesters to express their protests. That was unfortunate.

    September 5, 2008 02:03 am at 2:03 am |
  2. stacy

    CNN let's not be so self serving. As a network you have milked this campaign season for some of the best ratings ever. The under card featuring Hillary and Obama like the William sisters meeting at the US Open was the main event. Now your trying to sell the main event as competitive when you know and all 40 million people know it is non-competitive, a dud. Barack is the winner on merit and performance.
    Stop with the artifical grading and start reporting the facts.

    September 5, 2008 02:04 am at 2:04 am |
  3. Introducing John Obama

    I can't wait for John and Sarah to board that newly painted plane, drop McCain off in Arizona for good and Palin off in Alaska for good, and sell that plane on eBay. John McCain is an "empty suit" trying so hard to fill himself with Obama's substance. Sarah Palin is an ambitious woman, but terribly naive and easy to use and abuse (when she isn't being abusive herself that is).

    September 5, 2008 02:04 am at 2:04 am |
  4. STCharlotte

    I must have been watching another speech. Oh I remember....I slept through it.

    September 5, 2008 02:05 am at 2:05 am |


    September 5, 2008 02:06 am at 2:06 am |
  6. Daunte

    I just wish that thses reporters stop being scared of the republican party and tell the truth. John McCain has no idea of change in America...just more of the same McCain....and is trigger happy, by he way..Palin is trigger happy as well! Check it out!

    September 5, 2008 02:06 am at 2:06 am |
  7. El Queso Grande

    Palin = Reagan 2.0

    Run to the hills hippies and ask your mommies to hold your sniveling emaciated little pasty bodies.

    September 5, 2008 02:07 am at 2:07 am |
  8. Sybill

    Boring. Period.

    September 5, 2008 02:08 am at 2:08 am |
  9. whiteboy for obama

    he also used the same speech 'theme' as the rev. wright did in his interview with reporters a few months ago.

    is that funny ,or what?

    September 5, 2008 02:08 am at 2:08 am |
  10. Tony in Michigan

    I think by now we ALL know he was a POW.But that don't change the last eight years.And he has ALOT to do with that!!!And I'm sorry,give ME a shot at it now from the top?I sure hope Not!!!

    September 5, 2008 02:09 am at 2:09 am |
  11. Voting Obama


    OBAMA/BIDEN 2008!!!!!!!

    September 5, 2008 02:09 am at 2:09 am |
  12. druid

    Do people and the press has anything to say about McCain then war hero? Those that he fought with in vietnam are they not war hero.? Does McCain war hero put food in our table, feed the hunger, make people stop losing their homes? With all do respect he is using that war hero for everything. What about the others who went through the same as he did they never made boost of it because they know they went to bring freedom. for one I'm tired of this endless praise.

    September 5, 2008 02:10 am at 2:10 am |
  13. whose change?

    One more thing, what kind of experience paves the way for a successful president? Can somebody please define and qualify the experience needed for a candidate to be labeled as "experienced" or "inexperienced"?

    People seem hang up on governors for their executive experience, I guess. But look no further than W with his extremely "experienced" herd - collective disaster!

    September 5, 2008 02:14 am at 2:14 am |
  14. texas

    David Gergen, you must be sleep deprived. Take a nap, then come and revisit your analysis. Obama/Biden will kick McBush/Palincheney rear all the way to Wasilla

    September 5, 2008 02:15 am at 2:15 am |
  15. Introducing John Obama

    Aaron, you caught onto the same thing I did, although I am not as cynical of Obama. I think Obama would try harder to fulfill the change you speak of, because he studied hard in college in preparation to do just that. Then he placed himself in one of the US's most politically corrupt states in order to practice and sharpen his skills. He really put himself to the test by fighting against some of the worst of the worst. He studied them and learned to beat them at their own games – without using corruption himself. You see that he was not quick to jump into the conflict in Georgia unlike McCain who proclaimed that all Americans are Georgians!

    I have to wonder how the republicans will feel once they realize that for SOME REASON, their "maverick" is striving to be the "empty suit"!

    September 5, 2008 02:16 am at 2:16 am |
  16. Ralph Adkins

    McCain has always been formidable when his cause was just. It takes tremendous courage and character to survive POW camp. However, this time his cause is just not that just. It's just too close to Bush and just too kind and gentle to big oil and just too cozy with the fundamentalists who have attempted to hijack this country. And, just in time, Obama stands too formidably in his way. Obama is for justice and not just for the rich. McCain is just too little and just too late.

    September 5, 2008 02:19 am at 2:19 am |
  17. "Independent" AZ voter

    As a 20-year Air Force veteran, I’m well familiar with the personal sacrifices one can makes in behalf of service to this great country of ours. Undeniably, Sen. John McCain has served this country with honor and distinction, and we will forever owe him our deepest gratitude for the profound sacrifice he’s made.
    However, the extent of oral and visual tribute to his P.O.W. days over the past 3 days of this convention, including that within his own speech, leaves me feeling that all of us who watched have been subjected to some sort of indoctrination on the topic of his service and sacrifice. It’s as if we are now expected to accept McCain’s positions on things and not challenge him, because he was a Vietnam War P.O.W., and we should think twice before stepping out of line—as that would be considered unpatriotic.

    September 5, 2008 02:20 am at 2:20 am |
  18. Mi Ho

    CNN keeps the game close in their opinion to sqweeze out every last drop of campain advertisment dollars from both sides.
    We are being DUPED!

    September 5, 2008 02:22 am at 2:22 am |
  19. John McCain

    Remember... I was a POW.

    September 5, 2008 02:23 am at 2:23 am |
  20. Andrew Dzeguze

    Wait, so your saying McCain is like Lt. Dan in Forrest Gump? Angry old ex-vet with long military pedigree? Well, gee, that changes everything.

    By the way, how can you square the tough talk about bringing change and standing up to failed policies when McCain lacked the fortitude to stand up to Rush Limbaugh and Charlie Black and pick the man he actually thought could help him govern America and would really have been a break from history? I mean, I don't like Joe Lieberman, don't think it would have made me vote for McCain, but it would have been a heck of a lot more consistent with change than picking an underqualified social conservative who no one knows, can't be allowed to speak to the press yet, and seems driven to reignite the culture wars of the 1980s.

    Or is that what he meant by protecting the environment – recycling old, hack political strategies of the past?

    September 5, 2008 02:24 am at 2:24 am |
  21. can't be trusted

    no way, McCain

    September 5, 2008 02:25 am at 2:25 am |
  22. Brian Wilson

    Except the economy is doing fine, we never had a recession and now are showing fairly standard growth and unemployment is down. I can't believe the outright lies that Schneider propagates in the hope of electing Obama. I literally scared of the debt Obama will tack on to our already outrageous deficit. John McCain has it right: cut government spending.

    September 5, 2008 02:31 am at 2:31 am |
  23. Reg

    Convention speeches from either party never provide detailed answers to hard issue questions. These speeches are about rallying the party around the chosen candidate. Obama also had zero substance in his styrofoam Greek column speech.

    September 5, 2008 02:33 am at 2:33 am |
  24. the dude

    No he didn't you liar!

    We all know you are saying one thing in public and another in private just like all the GOP talking heads.

    That speech was boring

    And Palin just lied and lied and lied.

    September 5, 2008 02:34 am at 2:34 am |

    Like Bush tells the young people, they won't need Social Security.
    Well, let me tell them: Work hard, pay your billis and with the
    Cost of Living going us and the pay going down, good luck.

    To save in this economy is hard. To save and put your money in
    the stock market is a BIG GAMBLE!!!!!! Believe me, kids, you
    will need all (and more) of your Social Security Benefits. Time
    flys and so does money.

    September 5, 2008 02:36 am at 2:36 am |
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