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

Gergen: Talk about a bold gamble!

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="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. Bob from MI

    I encourage everyone following this story to check out the comments posted on the websites of Alaska's local newspapers and television stations. This woman is already being investigated for abuse of power, and several of the internet posts from her fellow Alaskans refer to her as "Princess Palin" or "Queen Palin". Sounds like her royal subjects are quite disillusioned with her already.

    August 29, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  2. Jill Johnson

    McCain thinks we Hillary voters will switch to the very conservative Sarah Palin with NO EXPERIENCE and WITH THE SUPREME COURT at stake!? Good Grief. This will ensure that the Hillary vote stays with the DEMS. I am 46 years old and and I supported Hillary.
    With this choice, McCain cemented my vote for OBAMA! McCain thinks Hillary voters are voting gender not issues and he is very very very wrong. I actually think that McCain could have picked an experienced Republican woman but they were taller than he is and we do know Palin will look good standing next to him. McCains wife is taller but the money won out there. McCain just trashed his own ticket!!

    August 29, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  3. Bill

    McCain just won the election...period

    August 29, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  4. Greg

    Great choice McCain! Way to shake things up. I can't wait to vote for McCain/Palin in November.

    August 29, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  5. asdfgh

    I see this choice as a prett;y sound one. Palin is a politician who isn't from the beltway and will likely appeal to undecided voters that both parties are trying to woo. From what I have read about Palin, she seems like a down to earth, everyday-Joe type of american...and that will be an attractive feature to many. She allegedly has convervative values, which will make the republicans happy. Finally, she has a background in oil and energy, so she might be touted as having a good idea of what to do with America's current energy woes.

    I don't really buy into the whole "not experienced for national security" angle regardless of which party says it. Neither of our last two presidents were particularly savvy on world affairs, yet they both served 2 terms.

    August 29, 2008 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  6. Juano

    I had the opportunity to attend the Democrat Convention. It was a great experience for my co-workers and I. I was there as part of the media (Spanish language channel) and I am a registered Republican. I was very impressed with Obama and Biden there families and the whole production.

    I didn’t think McCain could take 80 thousand people off the front page until I woke up this morning to hear that a woman that I had never herd of was the VP. I still don’t know if that will be good or bad. So I am not smiling… more like blank expression

    August 29, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  7. NC 4 McCain

    The MAVRICK is back! Way to go McCain shake them up!

    August 29, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  8. Sherry, Atlanta





    OBAMA/BIDEN '08-'12

    August 29, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  9. Realist

    McCain read the writing on the wall and picked Palin so that when the loss comes in November, she can take the blame rather than McCain.

    All the Dems need to do is play the What if? Hearbeat away... commercial with a picture of Palin and her goateed husband sitting in the oval office and this ticket is on a downward spiral to blowout loss.

    What was were McCain's advisors thinking!?!!? Alaska has an economy swimming in oil that requires no effort. There are 15 males to every females, which skews your representative decision making. And they have no immigration, health, or education issues to speak of. What tough decision needs to be made in such an easy context.

    Executive decision making!?!?! For the state of Alaska?

    August 29, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  10. Nick, Chicago, IL

    Barack Obama was right... John McCain just doesn't get it.

    August 29, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  11. irish

    I don't think it is a desperate move by Mcain at all. Also, this is not an insult to Hillary Clinton . Her own party did that to her already (insulted her by not picking her for the VP Spot.) I like Sarah Palin she is a very strong. couragous women who knows how to play with the big boys. and will chop them in half if she has one wiff or coruption among them. Don't under estimate her. she will come out swinging. She has done some really great things alreay for Alaska. Who do you know that would cut there own salary for the betterment of the people they are serving. Not one politican comes to mind. Well, she did. she cut her own salary for the betterment of the people of Alaska. don't tell me she doesn't know anything about economics. She is doing great things in Alaska concerning this area. Get educated before you start dragging her through mud!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

    August 29, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  12. Sage Bill

    Call it a Hail Mary if you wish. But this one connected-for a TOUCHDOWN! Palin has real executive experience and is an outsider, unlike the clod named Biden. She is vivacious, a mother of five and very charming. See you later, Obama.

    August 29, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  13. Mary

    Wow, what a pick! And I always thought you had to live in a mansion and ride around in limos to get to the whitehouse! Palin has a blue collar husband and leads a "normal" life like most Americans. Wow!

    August 29, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  14. Tom, mississipi

    president palin?

    just doesn't sound good....

    she looks like margie simpson, what's up with that? LOL

    August 29, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  15. Capt. Smash, Salt Lake City, Utah

    How dare he think that women will vote for another woman just because she is a woman. Just ask yourself do want this woman to be commander and chief? I think not. If elected he has put this country in jeopardy with her and the possibility of her being Pres.

    August 29, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  16. Indiana Voter

    I applaud Mccain for his choice and it shows this will be a hard fought campaign. However, I would prefer to have Hillary in a key posiion on Obama's staff making a difference in the lives our people in our country – equal rights, health care, etc than Gov. Palin who will be relegated to the back seat watching the boys make all of the decisions and supporting none of the issues we women care about. If mccain can suggest his wife be in a topless contest, then we know what he really things about women and their role in our society.

    August 29, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  17. George

    The only thought I can think of is , Mccain has proved to me that he is a very STUPID person

    August 29, 2008 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  18. Steve - Atlanta, GA

    I love it!!!!!!!! We Obama supporters could not be happier with McCains decision to add Palin to the ticket. His strongest argument was national security and just threw that one out the door.

    We were afraid he would chose Romney, Ridge, Huckabee or Hutchinson.....those could have created a strong GOP ticket. We will take Palin over them in a heartbeat.....speaking of heartbeat....tick...tick....tick....

    Go McPain! You just made Obama/Biden the only real intelligent choice!

    No McPain '08

    August 29, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  19. Sara

    Hey – look at it this way – she and Cheney can go hunting together in Alaska (for oil).

    August 29, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  20. deb in MA

    I didn't put much stock in the "lack of experience" charge against Obama and I certainly don't think it disqualifies Gov. Palin from running for vice president. If inexperience and lack of foreign policy credentials is such a bad thing, I'd rather have the inexperienced person "a heartbeat away" than actually sitting in the chair! At least she can say she's been an executive and run both a city and a state. He's run nothing but his mouth.

    August 29, 2008 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
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