September 4th, 2008
11:50 PM ET
15 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. Stacey

    All joking aside–isn't McCain looking like Barney? Where did his arms go???

    September 5, 2008 03:24 am at 3:24 am |
  2. janet

    I agree with you, Mr. Gergen. I listen to your programe everyday. I like the way you comment on both of the political candidates. You show your FAIRNESS to both of them. Fairness is what we expect from a great nation.

    I heard about his war stories many times. But when he told it, I was still moved. I voted for Hillary. When Hillary lost her race, I intended to cast my vote to Obama. But Obama's liberalism worry me a lot. It worries me more than his lack of experience. I'm liberal Dem myself, but Obama's liberalism is beyond my acceptance. I believe a liberal president will not do a country good.

    I'm not sure if I'm right.

    September 5, 2008 03:26 am at 3:26 am |
  3. Todd

    so says someone who listened to it. i watched the giants play the redskins...was there 90k doing something else tonight?

    September 5, 2008 03:27 am at 3:27 am |
  4. Rick

    His speech and affect seemed so out of touch with what is really going on in this country. He didn’t even seem to connect with the audience at times. If you ask me, between Palin’s transparently contrived, juvenile speech which completely alienating most Dems and Independents, and John McCain’s impotent acceptance speech which seemingly lacked any substance in relation to this current economic nightmare, I find it hard to see how any credibility was established outside of the Evangelical core of the party. In fact, his process and choice of recruiting Sarah Palin makes him look like either he has incredibly poor judgment, or he has been high jacked by the far right similar to George Bush. It’s regrettable as he does have a good story. Too bad it was repeated throughout the convention making the convention about him and not about struggling folks like me. This was a truly lost opportunity, in my opinion.

    September 5, 2008 03:29 am at 3:29 am |
  5. Paul

    Not sure what all you people been watching but McCain is clearly the man for the job. The speech was well-written and well-delivered. He addressed specifics and was very sincere while doing so. He did not feed rhetoric and did not lead a cheerleading campaign like the other guy does. I find it difficult why this country appears (at least the media is making sure of this) to be so infatuated with Obama. Anyone with half a head on their shoulder should know that McCain is not another Bush. They can keep feeding that BS but in the end the hypocrisy of the Democrats will be exposed. They are a nasty, angry bunch of people. They don't care about the country, they care about their agenda and their agenda only. Follow them and walk right into the arms of socialism. I believe at the end of the day that the country will make the right choice. McCain and Palin are a breath of fresh air and just what the country needs right now.

    September 5, 2008 03:36 am at 3:36 am |
  6. Allen

    There comes a time in every nation's life when old white men need to step aside. That time is now.

    September 5, 2008 03:45 am at 3:45 am |
  7. Matt

    I thought both McCain and Palin were fantastic! It's looking like they will defeat the Dems! I like it better when one party doesn't control everything, that way while they're busy bickering not much damage gets done.

    September 5, 2008 03:51 am at 3:51 am |
  8. shaun

    yeah sure....

    September 5, 2008 03:57 am at 3:57 am |
  9. Mel

    AAron who is the best of the evils?

    \Obamam 08

    September 5, 2008 04:00 am at 4:00 am |
  10. shaun

    And David Gergen is suppose to be the "insight guy" of the "best political team on TV", but he sounds more like the outsight guy

    September 5, 2008 04:00 am at 4:00 am |
  11. Marie

    I also must have been watching a different speech. It was so boring, I could barely stay awake. OK, he is a war hero, I get it, and got it long time ago. I admire his service. But he had absolutely nothing else to say. To watch one more video or hear one more speech about his life and service tells me nothing I didn't already know. I want to know his plans to fix the many problems this country is facing, and I didn't hear anything.

    September 5, 2008 04:09 am at 4:09 am |
  12. Oxigen

    Oh my God I think McCain would be the best POW candidate but not the best candidate for the presidency this year. The guy is so stupid telling us about his experience as a POW but never mention anything about what concern the American people. I did not hear anything about equal pay for equal work, health care, better paying jobs, make college more affordable for our kids. What was that; the guy went on self glory himself yeah! I am a hero Barack is not. Last thing that we need is another cowboy that will send our kids to die in wars that we have no reason fighting. The guy is 72 years old he is about to die and I am sure that he want to send as many young kids to die in wars because he does care about them. He lived his live fully our kids should be able to live theirs too. The Vietnam war was a different story from Iraq. We have no reason being overthere now. No way, No how, No McCain.

    September 5, 2008 04:19 am at 4:19 am |
  13. Phil Plaza

    As long as both parties keep it civil and speak to the issues, I will continue to be engaged. But when pitbulls and barracudas start their rantings I will tune out, no matter what party. Our country has serious problems that need immediate attention. Please work toward solutions and do not set out the attack pit bulls and barracudas. Enough already!

    September 5, 2008 04:30 am at 4:30 am |
  14. ojo

    They could have put a monkey at the podium dressed in an elephant suit and the crowd in the Xcel Center would have gone bananas over the magnificent display.

    Most viewers at home, on the other hand, probably fell asleep after the first five minutes like me.

    Voter to McCain: "If you don't have anything substantive to say, at least try to say it with exuberance."

    September 5, 2008 04:32 am at 4:32 am |
  15. paul


    September 5, 2008 04:39 am at 4:39 am |
  16. Bab from Minnesota.

    What a contradicting evaluation by David G. on McCaine speech, if the speech was thin it lacks substance, it is full of mumbojombo but lacks recheche. So how comes you score him "A"?

    September 5, 2008 04:41 am at 4:41 am |
  17. Patricia in Ca

    John McCain = Country before party and I can't wait to vote for both him and Sarah Palin in November!
    John's speech last night was inspirational and inclusive to all Americans!
    McCain and Palin 08!!!!!!!! 🙂

    September 5, 2008 04:47 am at 4:47 am |
  18. Where is the beef?

    War hero and patriot! Fine, put him in the museum, not in the white house. During the last 4 days, I heard nothing of substance from this platform, except how bad their opponents are.

    Conventions used to be a great medium to get a candidate's message accross to the main street. It seemed to me that this convention was used for partying and celebration. What a waste!

    The message was missing! Democrats did a better job in getting their message of hope across. They even took the high road instead of beating up on the opponents. I did enjoy the entertainment provided by the pitbull with lipstick.

    September 5, 2008 05:00 am at 5:00 am |
  19. er

    McCain is out of touch with the real issues of our country. I admire anyone who is a war hero but he is running for president. Voting for McCain and the pitbull with lipstick would be worst the George and Dick.

    September 5, 2008 06:18 am at 6:18 am |
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