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. marty

    there are 3 main points that i took away from watching palin's speech on cnn:
    1. she can read a teleprompter every bit as a good a man;
    2. winning the 'war on chrismas" will be a prevailing theme
    3. wolf blitzer's gushing and silly analysis is the one of the reasons the national enquirer has become a respected media source.

    September 4, 2008 01:11 am at 1:11 am |
  2. Independent in DC

    Independents will continue to break for Obama and we, not the Republican base nor the Democratic, will decide this election.

    September 4, 2008 01:11 am at 1:11 am |
  3. francisco

    I am not sure if she will appeal to suburban areas , however one these days Democract might make some mistakes and I do believe some women voters will jump the ship and vote GOP emotionally. She is very good on play as a victim and most women who regularly analyze politics on various TV stations jumping so fast when male counterparts criticize her. for example Michelle Bachman played the same when James Carville criticized Sarah, on Larry King late edition,also she will win some Clinton voters who saying they are not going to vote for Obama. GOP are very smart and they know how to unite and rally behind their candidate not like Democract who usually shot themselves in their feet. Remember they have already energize their base while some Democract are not yet satisfied with Barack, I am so scared GOP will win this election and we all going to be sorry again!

    September 4, 2008 01:11 am at 1:11 am |
  4. Carl from MI

    I watched her speech... it was lame and lifeless. She's in WAY OVER HER HEAD!! She obviously didn't even write the speech... it was written for her with all the same talking points all the Republicans have been recycling. She was uninspiring and unprofessional.

    She said things that weren't true, many half-truths, and left out lots of facts and inserted opinions instead. She acted like a hockey mom.

    I don't want a hockey mom for a VP. I want an experienced and knowledgeable person that can interact with heads of states and act like a head of state here at home. I want someone who acts Presidential... not someone who I'd want to have a beer with and not someone I'd want to watch a hockey game with.

    I want someone who can take command of our country and be Commander-in-Chief at a moment’s notice, not someone who will have to have OJT and be schooled in the fine art of Constitutional Law and Foreign Policy. She only has about 5 minutes worth of the necessary experience to perform the job of VP. She doesn't even KNOW WHAT OUR VP DOES!!!!

    We only have two candidates that fit that bill right now: Obama/Biden!!


    September 4, 2008 01:11 am at 1:11 am |
  5. Anne

    I had exactly the same reaction. While I think she can clearly deliver a prepared speech well, the tone seemed angry, overly combative and a bit sophomoric. I can't see her appealing to suburbanites, particularly women. She's far too extreme in her social conservatism. And, I can't help but think that coming across as angry helps a whole lot. There was style, but not much substance in that speech. And, I'm not even sure the style will appeal to precisely those voters in the middle that McCain needs to attract.

    September 4, 2008 01:11 am at 1:11 am |
  6. Rose in Alabama

    David, you are the brightest and the best. I agree with Dr. Laura; Gov. Palin has abandoned her highest calling, the nuture of her family, to pursue her overweening ambition. Why is this question not asked of men? Because it is the mother who has the God-given grace to nuture and raise the children. I'm no goofball; I'm college educated and have held elected officer more than once, while raising my children. However, they always came first. She is a publicity seeker, an egotist, blinded by her beauty and poise.

    September 4, 2008 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  7. john

    I just saw that Campbell Brown sounded the alarm bells because Harry Reid used the word 'shrill' in referring to Gov. Palin's speech. Since when did reporters become the 'word' police? At a time when women want to be treated as equals to men, now we have reporters saying we have to watch what we say just because Gov Palin is a woman. Are you kidding me? This woman is going to be a heart beat away from the presidency and you are worried that she can't handle being called 'shrill'? I think women in this country are smart enough to know that 'shrill' is a gender neutral word.

    Never heard someone use the word shrill and not refer to a woman? Campbell seems to forget how Tom Brokaw introduced one of her own stories on the evening news: BROKAW: "The arguments for and against more tax cuts have become shrill on both sides. A reality check now from NBC’s Campbell Brown who tries to stop just some of the spin."....

    Get over it! it's a legitimate word and stop treating Gov. Palin as if she's a defenseless person, that Democrats need to watch what they say- just because she is a woman. You are only causing a greater disservice to women by treating them as if they need to be coddled and protected from certain (legitimate) words.

    September 4, 2008 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  8. Rob

    Palin is very charming. She will appeal to the conservative evangelicals wherever they live. But who else were those people going to vote for other than McCain anyway? The more conservative evangelicals express their pleasure with her, the more independents like me remember why we left the Republican party.
    What happened to John McCain the "Maverick" that I supported in 2000? He obviously has become beholdened to the ultra conservatives. More of the same.
    Sorry John. I wanted to vote for you.

    September 4, 2008 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
  9. Brendolyn

    I found her to be smug and abrasive. I also come from a small town outside of a large metropolitan city but I can't relate to her at all. I felt as if she thinks she's better than anyone living in a big city, as if one can't have any values or morals if they live in a big city. I didn't care for the sarcastic barbs throughout her speech either. Did she think trying to act like a pit bull would endear her to or prove that she could somehow fit in with the big boys in politics? Her speech sounded too well calculated to make her seem like the girl next door and I felt very patronized. If this is what she's all about then I don't want any part of it. I can't see that this country would be any better off with her as vice president.

    September 4, 2008 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
  10. Ryan

    Why do all the big networks hate conservative women? Why do they have to be radically pro choice and drink the democratic koolaid?

    September 4, 2008 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
  11. just a mom

    No, issues matter and she just isn't on the right side of them.

    1. Although I appreciate the offer to be an advocate for parents that have children with special needs, what good is a ramp or other things of that nature that we need so much more of if I can't afford health insurance that would allow me to take my child to the Dr. on a regular basis?

    2. And I really appreciate ending the bridge to nowhere, but you should have never argued for it.

    3. When your government fails you, as it has so many Americans sometimes communities must come together to make their voices heard to bring about change. That is the role of a community organizer. That is a job that doesn't come with fluff or great pay. You do that kind of job because you are a fighter, and the little people matter to you. You know the same ones you are asking to vote for you now.

    In short this suburban mom doesn't think so!!!!!!

    September 4, 2008 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
  12. Patty

    No. We like our candidates to be wise, generous and ready to lead. Governor Palin is well prepared to be a snarky pit bull but not the vice president of the United States. Actually she would be a great conservative radio talk show hostess. Maybe right after Dr. Laura?

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

    I would ask this: if McCain looses, would you expect in 2012 there would be a lot of Republican support for a Palin for President campaign?

    As a Democrat, I was worried that perhaps Palin would come out and give a dynamic, powerful speech that would show her to be a star. That did not happen. Instead her speech seemed like one that Cindy McCain could have given, and I don't think Cindy McCain is qualified to be Vice-President.

    Imagine the speech that Hillary Clinton would have given. Imagine the sppech that Kay Hutchinson would have given. Pailin's speech was not in this league; and the "I have more executive experience" type arguments the Republicans are making borders on sophisim.

    September 4, 2008 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
  14. mona

    As a professional woman I have to respond to Campbell Brown. I have always enjoyed your analysis of the events surrounding both political parties. I do have one question for you. Are you more upset about the word "Shrill" coming from an aide of Reid or for the array of Buttons on the delegates at the convention saying "Hottest VP pick" or Next Hottie on the Hill".

    "Shrill" vs. "Hottest Pick"

    The republicans sure no how to complain about media bias and persnal responsibility when it suits their own needs. The speeches tonight were filled with negative comments that attack a person. Quips used to fire up the crowd and that was it. As an independent voter I want to know about the economy, foreign policy, and most importantly about rising fuel prices.

    The Republican party and Gov Palin sure took the gloves off tonight and I can't wait for the democrates to take it the final round with a 10 count.

    I am offically voting for Obama.

    September 4, 2008 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  15. Lee

    Sara did a great job on delivery but was pure politics without sumstance. I live in a small town and I am guessing that most people, especially women will see her as a smart mouthed woman that tries to be cute with rheteroic. She needs to show substance not be a Barbie doll for the GOP.

    September 4, 2008 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  16. Lisa

    How disappointing!!! Her speech was definately scripted. No disscussion of what she will do. It was just a bunch of tasteless insults. Not to mention does she realize this is for the VP and not Comic View? Maybe she might think about doing stand up, NOT!!! The media doesn't have to exploit her family she did a fantastic job of it on her own! Her soon to be son-n-law look really enthusastic as well!

    why am I seeing a bunch of buttons pointing out how hot she is? Talking about sexism. Just as I was not moved by her speech, I feel some of the people in the audience felt the same, I even saw a guy yawning a few people that looked like they wasn't even there. And she has the nerve to say Obama's not fit to run the country, I guess she would know something about not being FIT!!! You go GURL!!!

    September 4, 2008 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  17. michael appleton

    Palin comes across as an angry, sarcastic, smug, arrogant right-winger who is obviously seizing the opportunity in order to spread her hate-mongering message of superiority!

    Rednecks have found the leader they've waited for to encourage devolvement!


    September 4, 2008 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  18. rebuplican for obama

    She will not appeal to the suburbans, this whole night proved how insulting the Republicans can be and down right rude, i mean seriously guys, even the crowd seemed to have no cooth. Similar to a crowd on WWE. Dirty politics at its best.

    September 4, 2008 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  19. Pier Giacalone

    As Gergen noted on air this evening, the speech was for the base and did not reach out to independents. It's difficult to see what, if any element of Palin would reach out to independents. The fact is, she was chosen to shore up McCain with the base. That presupposes that he has support elsewhere. McCain circa 2008 is a whole different person from McCain circa 2000 and everyone knows it. Everyone is aware of his sucking up to the "agents of intolerance" and flip-flopping on the Bush tax cuts. Then there's the insane militarism. With Iraq enjoy an enormous disapproval rating, I doubt too many people are eager to attack Iran, Russia, or any place McCain seems intent on going to war.

    This convention was all about at least making sure he has republicans. Winning over anyone else will be an uphill battle and then some and Palin does nothing for that cause but hurt it with her inexperience – and the pitbull routine won't help there either.

    September 4, 2008 01:15 am at 1:15 am |
  20. George

    Palin offers nothing but divisive politics. I think our country has seen too much of that. We need a problem solver, not bomb thrower.

    September 4, 2008 01:15 am at 1:15 am |
  21. tobiasjosias

    I am a registered independent. Sarah Palin will appeal to suburban women who are not anger at men. Hilary women will be staying at home this election. They do not want Obama and now that the repubs have a superstar in Sarah Palin they will not want her either. Sarah will appeal to small town America.Both men and women. These people are not angry. The suburban American angry women, the women who get less pay than a man, who are pissed their husband cheats on them or divorced them for a younger women, they will not vote republican. They hate the war. They have anger towards anything male or war. These women will be on TV bashing Sarah for her views. They can not stand the fact that Hilary would not be anything without Bill. Who knew Hilary before Bill? The only affect these people
    will have on the election will be sitting on the sidelines not supporting the dems. Which ultimately might give the republicans the election.

    September 4, 2008 01:15 am at 1:15 am |
  22. mistermister

    I'm sick of her already. She's just more of the same divisive politics.

    September 4, 2008 01:15 am at 1:15 am |
  23. Ella

    I would be very sad if women of any political ideology found Palin to be any kind of substitute for Hillary Clinton. I'm a woman–and wouldn't have minded having a Clinton back in the White House until both of them showed themselves for what they are. But whatever differences I have with Clinton pale in comparison to Palin's arrogance, smarm and spin. Of course, she won't be able to rear 5 children (7, how that her son-in-law and grandchild are in the picture) which carrying out the duties of VP. But of course, that's how the Grand Old Party prefers it. Toss the little woman a bone, but when it comes to the power party, don't mind if she stays in the background while Rove, et al., do the heavy lifting.

    I thought I'd lose my dinner watching her speak.

    September 4, 2008 01:15 am at 1:15 am |
  24. maxx

    I am a woman and an urbanite, and Sarah Palin doesn't do it for me just because she's a woman. I could care less about her family life and be a working mother. There a millions of women who do it. What I care about is her views and position on issues that affect my life if she becomes VP. I do not agree with her on many issues and I don't want her imposing her views on me.
    The other thing that drives me up a wall are all these commentators saying how you have to be careful how you deal with her because she is a women and you don't want to alienate other women. If you think just because your a women and you get yourself into the game of politics or any other arena that you may be judged or criticized that someone has to deal with you on a level that's deemed fair by others than you better get thick skinned quick. You get the same treatment woman or not, like it or not.
    I watched Palins speech and was unimpressed with the content. I also watched as the panel discussed and analyzed it after. One I guess we watched something totally different. I thought she was not effective in her delivery, her subject matters were issues that her party has made messes of and if insulting others is OK for her to do than woman or not she is fair game for the same treatment. You all have said she is strong, smart and an effective government official, then stop using the shroud of being a woman as a weapon against anyone who may give what she gave.
    And to Campbell Brown maybe you just missed it sitting in that arena I was sitting in my den watching her speech. I have to agree with Mr. Reed she was shrill at times. My words to my fiance was turn the TV down I can't take her shrieking. Who cares if it has never been said about a man before that's not the point she was.

    September 4, 2008 01:15 am at 1:15 am |
  25. rj

    Dont you get it David, Christians and people with integrity dont care what the "popular majority" think. Abortion IS the WRONG ANSWER!

    September 4, 2008 01:15 am at 1:15 am |
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