September 4th, 2008
12:22 AM ET
14 years ago

Gergen: Will Sarah Palin appeal in suburban America?


Palin wowed the RNC Wednesday, but how will she play in suburbia? (Photo credit: E.M. Pio Roda / CNN )

It is clear from tonight's national debut that Sarah Palin may connect extremely well in rural, small-town America. And no doubt, Republicans will be sending her there in key states like Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and the like. Her pit bull style, combined with her humor and presence along with her roots, will likely draw people to her. Lots of people there will look forward to hearing her in person.

The question for me is whether she will also appeal in suburban America. I am not at all certain that she will: her combative, anti-elitist style - along with her staunch conservatism on issues like abortion - may just leave a lot of voters cool if not cold.

The answer to that question could have a big bearing on the election. What do you think?

soundoff (1,169 Responses)
  1. Rob

    McCain could not have chosen a running mate, male or female, who is more like George W. Bush. Even with McCain's voting record of supporting Bush 90% of the time I guess he felt that just wasn't close enough.
    I have just one question for Palin...

    What do you think of the job that George Bush and Dick Cheney have done over the past 8 years?

    I bet you don't hear her answer that question on national television.

    September 4, 2008 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  2. JR49, Virgina

    I think I heard different speech then Mr.Gergen. It was speech full of hate and Republican spin like we heard for 8 years. I believe she didn't write single word of it and was there more like puppet to deliver.

    September 4, 2008 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  3. Dieter

    this woman is ridiculous and is better off chasing moose in Alaska. she is NOT fit to represent a country and talk to civilized nations heads of state such as a queen of England, a president of France, a pope. it would make the American people look like infantile idiots, and actually more of Bush's dragging down the American people or even worse.
    Gaddifi, Osama bin Laden, and other evil people would laugh their heads off at such a choice and would not take America serious anymore..... or is this the new Bush plan to defend this nation ????

    September 4, 2008 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  4. GC from Virginia

    Boy I hope not. Tonight was like watching a much more hateful sequel to Bush's 2004 convention. I pray that people see through it all this year.

    I was impressed by Palin's presence and personality. But was dismayed at how derisive and condescending she was. Rudy was worse...Rudy was the worst. You couldn't have a bigger gap between the high road and the low road this year. Even if it costs him the election, I'll be proud that Obama/Biden didn't have to rely on destroying their opponents' resume and character to compete in 2008.

    I'm curious – what impression did you actual Independents get from all this?

    September 4, 2008 12:59 am at 12:59 am |
  5. MikeH

    Did Sarah cheat on her husband? Enquiring minds want to know.

    September 4, 2008 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  6. Paul

    After all these months of national campaigning, John McCain waves his magic wand and -poof! A reality show to pick his vice president. Find an attractive nobody who has some small scale credentials, appeals to various groups, have her jump through on-air political hoops and if she looks good doing it she may win and be a heart beat from the presidency. "So you want to be President!" Be afraid, America. People love reality shows like this one.

    September 4, 2008 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  7. jane429

    I'm an Independent middle-aged, white, female voter. I've been on the fence about just who to vote for... until now. Sarah Palin is arrogant and shrill. Her criticism of Obama & the Democrats was over the top. I have heard nothing substantial out of the Republicans concerning the specifics of todays issues. I don't think that the McCain/Palin ticket even HAS a platform that can be explained. McCain just wants to win – and he's banking on women voting for a woman - not on the merits of his position on the issues facing America - except war. John McCain has insulted my intelligence. He's patronizing. I wouldn't vote for him now under ANY circumstance. Obama is somewhat inexperienced. I am hopeful that he will surround himself with good people to help him make good decisions after weighing in on all sides of the issues. He's getting my vote.

    September 4, 2008 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  8. mgb408

    David – I think tonight Mrs Palin appealed to only one group – the republicans! what happened to the disgruntled Hillary supporters that she was suppossed to court/appeal to?.

    September 4, 2008 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  9. marlies

    going at obama the way she did tonight was a BIG mistake. this will back-fire BIG TIME! she should have spoken about the future and what she can contribute to the ticket and she messed it ALL up. don't these republicans get ANYTHING? you want votes? talk about how you CHANGE the situation were're in!!!!

    September 4, 2008 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  10. Richard

    Sarah Palin hit a homerun tonight, but..but...but..but.
    No, David.....If Christ himself came back, you'd add some qualifying clause of doubt as he performed the miracles again." Will he appeal to Suburbia..I'm not at all certain..."
    Sarah Palin has the commentators on the run...and the American people; the vast majority, are with her. The 3-4 days of underhanded attacks by some segments of the media have contributed to a backlash like you have never seen.It's just starting.
    Richard in Georgia

    September 4, 2008 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  11. Ryan from San Diego CA.

    I think David hits the nail on the head here. Rural voters may get her, but as a suburban voter I am 100% put off by her.

    September 4, 2008 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  12. Remy, Titusville, Florida

    Her personal life, her family, should be off-limits, I agree. However, as a voter, I must have the right to ask the GOP vice presidential candidate issue-related questions such as "What is your stance on teenage pregnancy?" – "What is your policy as to safe sex education?", etc. In times of rising teenage pregnancy numbers, rising STD infections, those are legitimate questions.

    But I would not be able to ask those questions without being called a sexist, or an intruder to her family affairs. Because everyone knows, the answer, whatever it may be, will draw laughs.

    She is claiming a very high moral standard for herself and her political agenda. We have to have the right to hold her to those standards.

    September 4, 2008 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  13. LEH

    Where did all the Obama fans go? Nobody commenting now? That's strange...

    To answer your question, David, I think she will do well. I am an independent from Los Angeles and was highly curious about this lady. And I am impressed. I am surprised that their arguments tonight actually crystallized what my concerns were about Senator Obama. We shall see how this plays out...

    On another note, I must comment on Stephanie Miller, one of the regular pundits on CNN. She's shameless. She bashes Palin last night, and today, perhaps recognizing that Palin did a good job, suggests that this "disgusting talk about Palin's family" was brought up by the right. Just last night, with Ed Shultz on a split screen, she did not defend women when he said that "what kind of role model can she be if she can't get her home in order" (referring to Bristol's pregnancy). Tonight, she also laments Palin's decision to "use her family as props." Did I not see Obama's wife and two kids, as well as Joe Biden's complete family tree, on stage last week???

    Such hypocrisy.

    September 4, 2008 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  14. Tom

    I am a life-long Republcan, but I am incensed that John McCain would place such a woefully unqualified person a heartbeat from the presidency. Sarah Palin controlling our nuclear weapons? Staring down Vladimir Putin? Brokering a complex Middle East peace deal? This is serious business. Hockey moms are great, but I don't necessarily want one in the White House.

    September 4, 2008 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  15. ralph

    Palin seems to attract her base, but not much else. She is so polarizing that she may not only rally the right to McCain's side, but also rally the left to Obama's side.

    September 4, 2008 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  16. Matt

    Republicans are preaching to the choir.
    They must be desperate to hold onto their last base of supporters.

    September 4, 2008 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  17. No Hillary = No Obama

    The answer – yes.

    September 4, 2008 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  18. Beth

    I don't think that intelligent, more affluent voters will fall for this. Sarah Palin will appeal to the less informed individuals who, like herself, are unaware that we are in a recession and are clueless about the problems this nation faces. I hope Obama wins, because if he does not, we are in deep trouble!

    September 4, 2008 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  19. Lost of CNN Moderation

    I've from small town NC. This woman will not play well here. We are soooo tired of all the nastiness from politicians and we aren't stupid. She didn't tell us one thing that a McCain/Palin Admin. would do for our economy. All she did was criticize the media and Obama. She acted like community organizers don't do anything. But, community organizers do more for regular people than all the politicians in Washington combined. They are the people that are there when the political speeches are over and the politicians are off the Washington to do none of the things they just promised them.

    And for someone who took a dig and Obama for accusing people of being bitter she sure sounded, well, bitter.

    I am so tired of the same old divisive politics. Palin and people like her are the reason people like myself don't normally participate in politics. All they do is try and tear the other person down. That's why I respect Obama so much. Time after time, during the primaries and now the general election, he's taken the hits without getting down in the mud with them. I hope he will continue to do that and hit them on the issues.

    Palin just made me want to work harder for Obama!

    September 4, 2008 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  20. richard

    A well delivered speech by a better looking Dick Cheney. In fact, she and the current VP are the true twins of the twin cities.

    Her toxic delivery is dangerous for a woman and will turn off all but the most zealot right wingers, men and mark my words especially women will find her personal attacks unlikable.

    I like her style, I hate and reject her politics. Smart money will be to run against her on the issues, then she will be a big negative with independents who will decide this election.

    September 4, 2008 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  21. Chris

    Palin has hit the nail on the head. Palin, Giuliani, Romney and Huckabee spoke the truth. Obama is nothing more than a empty shell that depends upon hollywood to craft a image with special effects and a teleprompter. The liberal press has been given Obama a free ride. He has no experience and the socialism plan has failed in every country it has been tried around the world. The Republicans stand for keeping this country free so anyone can rise up and achieve anything. While the Democrats think a big government can help people achieve.

    September 4, 2008 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  22. Independentandlovingit

    Guiliani is an adulterer who kicked hiswife out of the Governor's masion and replaced her with his mistress while in office! McCain through his sick wife to the curb while "courting" current wife Cindy. The ink had not dried on the divorce papers at the time they John and Cindy said "I Do". Romney wasn't picked for VP because the same extreme twisted right base he is attempting to rev up would have went into cardiac arrest if a moron who is a morman was on the ticket. These adulters, cons, and liers are now rolling out the red carpet for this unqualified VP nominee by throwing trash to divert the truth. There is certainly no way these idiots will get the White House.

    September 4, 2008 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  23. Nexus

    Guiliani was terrible. I couldn't watch without cringing. Palin on the other hand was magnificent. She too went after Obama, but in her case it was in self-defense. What is going to be fun is the VP debate. While Biden is trying to impress the world with how smart and capable he is, Palin will peeling the media-fueled veneer off Obama.

    September 4, 2008 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  24. Super man

    I don't like her at all. I think she'd be a horrible choice for President if something were to happen to McCain.

    We need more middle of the road candidates that can get along and make progress that everyone can live with.

    September 4, 2008 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
  25. Susan from Scotts Valley, CA

    As an Obama supporter, I think she did a great job. She delivered the speech that was written for her really well. I just don't know how she's going to do it in smaller venues.

    I know she's getting a crash course on national and international issues so they can tell her what her opinions are but can she cram that fast and be credible and then be interviewed by good journalists that ask the tough questions. Can she effectively answer questions on her own in Town Hall meetings? Will she be able to be substantive in the debates with Joe Biden?

    September 4, 2008 01:01 am at 1:01 am |
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