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. Votin' 4 a Chick this year...

    She appeals to me... Add on the fact that she is 2 on a ticket to McCain.

    Not the top billing... Like 0 executive experience O'bama.

    September 4, 2008 01:16 am at 1:16 am |
  2. b keller

    As a 65 year old woman that has worked for woman's rights my whole life, she is a frightening regression of what we have fought for.
    To the extreme cult-like religious right she is a poster child. I believe in separation of church and does the constitution.
    Environmentalist view her as the antithesis of green or a good stewart of the planet. John McCain has big zero from the League of Conservation Voters...they would have to go into the negative numbers for this women.
    If fact the marketing ploys of the Republican party is to hard hit the opposite of what they mean.
    It would be impossible to celebrate her as a step forward for women or the planet!

    September 4, 2008 01:16 am at 1:16 am |
  3. Ana Eastman

    She will not appeal to suburbia. She is almost a caricature of everything that is wrong. She is irrational, obviously a bad mother who not only did not teach her adolescent pregnant daughter the facts of life, but exposed her to the world. She does not care, or probably knows nothing, about global warming. She shoots animals for sport. She is narrow minded. She is a warmonger. I could go on and on. I am disgusted that they dare say the she will attract Hillary Clinton´s female followers. And it shows McCain´s total disregard for the fate of this country and the world in the unthinkable case that she became president.

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

    We better all hope that McSame does not become president because when that old man croaks, Sarah Palin will be in charge and we will all be on that bridge to nowhere. More of the same, just digging a bigger hole. Think America before you cast your vote because its our future generations that are and will be paying a high price for life in this country!

    September 4, 2008 01:16 am at 1:16 am |
  5. Alison McCormick

    I waited with interest to hear Governor Palin introduce herself to the nation. I could hardly stand listening to her, as she attacked Senators Obama and Biden. Her attacks on their personal character, careers and life work was no more than camouflage for her having no experience in national government. To, me it was politics as usual for the Republicans...mean, nasty, go for the jugular. Country first...yeah sure. She is McCain's best choice? Please. If we elect these two, I'm sitting it out in Costa Rica.

    September 4, 2008 01:17 am at 1:17 am |
  6. KP

    We have ABSOLUTELY nothing in common. I don't have children of my own therefore I'm not a part of the PTA, I don't have a child with special needs, I've never played hockey or anything like that. I am, however, a single woman who owns a home, works in Corporate America, I'm seeing some of my fellow co-workers lose their jobs daily, and I'm obviously concerned about mine and how I will make my mortgage. Nasty attacks on Obama don't help me.

    September 4, 2008 01:17 am at 1:17 am |
  7. AndyW

    I think tonight Palin cemented herself as the new Republican 'Rock Star' and her message will play well in the suburbs,. She comes across as genuine and suburban voters will relate to a working mom. I'm sure the tone her stump speech will be ratcheted down but will still include a few humorous jabs at Obama/Biden.

    September 4, 2008 01:17 am at 1:17 am |
  8. Kathleen

    No, she will not appeal in suburban America because of her aggressive, pit bull, low road style. This method may have worked in the past two elections and sure there are those who still chose to live in a state of denial about how our country would go downhill fast if McCain won this election and God forbid if he died and Palin was our President! Listen, most of us are sick to our stomachs on these low road attacks especially on a person such as Obama. I mean the guy has it ALL and understands how to balance our country. My God, when are people going to get it? What is it going to take to get these self serving low road Republicans out of here so we can begin the healing???!!!! Otherwise, seriously folks we are in trouble serious trouble, and I have faith that most people see behind this horrible woman. Just because she has 5 children one with down syndrome doesn't make her a good person who really cares about our country as a whole like Obama does. He truly cares about us all, what is best for the country and McCain/Palin have one agenda and one agenda only, themselves.

    September 4, 2008 01:17 am at 1:17 am |
  9. WS

    Mrs. PAlin does NOT stand up or hold up in suburbia. I already found her hypocritical – expressing one set of "fundamentalist values" and living another. I can hardly believe headlines which state that "the right" believes she "walks her talk." AU CONTRAIRE.
    Her speech tonight was petty, snide, and sarcastic. I don't believe any of her "punches" as they are defined landed. Not only were her words caustic, but her facial expressions were downright rude. I even got the impression that she was being purposely flirtatious in her expression and her inflection.
    I was quite appalled that she (or the campaign) trotted out the daughter's boyfriend (or should I say baby daddy). What a dog and pony show that was....very disturbing. PLEASE NO MORE OF THE SAME!!!

    September 4, 2008 01:17 am at 1:17 am |
  10. Mike (San Antonio)

    I think the media really needs to take a good look at the surveys considering abortion. A majority of WOMEN think that abortion should at least be severely restricted to victims of rape or incest or where the life of the mother would be endangered. This includes a MAJORITY of women between 18-24. This is a survey that was sponsored by the pro-abortion group Center for the Advancement of Women. This survey also shows more and more trending towards right to life over the course of years and was taken in 2003.

    Also, the survey showed that abortion position was next to last in what WOMEN considered important in a candidate, beating only "promoting girls in sports".

    The media keeps showing that they are WAY out of line with what the general public thinks when you keep talking about how her views on abortion are going to do her a lot of harm with women. This isn't the 70s any more, women have changed their minds, and the 30% that still think abortion should be readily available are hard core Dems anyway. No loss to Palin.

    I think the strong hockey-mom persona will play very well with independent suburban American women.

    September 4, 2008 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
  11. William C. White

    First of all I have to say I was disappointed in the CNN staff for their total support of the RNC, I usually like CNN for being fair but this date it was all about the RNC and being a women. I heard the speech and I know that everyone else is smarter than I am but how could so many people get so excited about a person who you have just met in two days. And I did not understand how come when the DNC was going on that CNN had on the stage republican and democratic people to speak but today the Democratic were only seen when you wanted them to and only able to speak when you allowed them. The last part I want to bring up is I am offended that we can high light what a white women is doing in a American politics because of the unfairness what about the unfairness as a African American Man. White women have had and still do have more rights than the average black man, the average black man will get put in jail for the same crime as a white man for longer periods of time and there is less black man in political offices than there is white women so how come, how come we can’t bring up the pride about being a black man without someone saying something negative like that is the only reason he got the job or that he is being prejudice. When we bring up the Black pride or the black issue it is bad but when it comes to women pride say as much as you would like.

    September 4, 2008 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
  12. tedious898

    Obama supporters .... I must say I've seen swift boating but this Palin women is a "Hockey Mom" and she's going to "high stick" her way to the top spot.

    Be very very afraid....4 more years....

    WHICH ABSOLUTELY SCARES ME TO NO END. We need Hillary to rip this Palin person a "new one"

    September 4, 2008 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
  13. LiberalPaul

    She was poised, confident, but a tad too strident and caustic. If he ultimate goal in this election is o apeal to the sliver of undecided voters who want to change the tone in Washington, she might have been too good for her own good.

    September 4, 2008 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
  14. Lisa

    I looked forward to her speech because I would like to know her, but her speech left out any vision she has for America, and instead, I found her to be sarcastic, condescending, and arrogant for some of her speech, which turned me completely off to her.

    September 4, 2008 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
  15. Shella

    I am a mother of 4 and a career woman who can relate to Palin and Michelle Obama because they are mothers as I can relate to any woman who is a mother and loves their children. I felt that she was very proud of her family but she fell short on her message to the American people because she didn't speak to the real issues and concerns that I feel as an American needed to be answered. Such as health care, economics, and the hardships that I am having right now. To me she is making this more of a cultural war than anything else. As far as I am concerned she is more of the same and a woman version of Mccain. Yeah her speech was okay, but very, very sarcastic and smug and the experience stuff should come on off the table since she doesn't have that much experience herself and that's just the truth about it. So what she was mayor of a small town and now governor or Alaska, what does this tell me? NOTHING! Her message fell by the waste side and came up way to short for me. I want real answers to what this GOP party plans to do to help me and my family out, not give me a hand out but fix the problems they made for us! Obama laid out what he plans to do, now it's the Mccain's camps turn!!!!

    September 4, 2008 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
  16. Same Old Same Old Republican Approach!

    I don't think that most Americans will take to her. She came across as rude and arrogant. She should have used this opportunity to introduce herself to America and tell us who she is, what she stands for, and why she thinks she is qualified to lead America. We still know little more about her than before the speech except that she can be mean and nasty and her she will say whatever the McCain campaign tells her to say. I am sure that when the Democrats answer her attacks she is gonna cry sexism. I regret staying up to watch this... it was very disappointing. She is so pathetic. She took the typical Republican approach of attack and distract. Nothing has changed. The Republicans just found a prettier face to spout McCains old tired rhetoric since people were falling asleep trying to listen to him... Once all the sizzle wears off, everyone will see that a pitt bull in lipstick is... well... just a pitt bull in lipstick. The best way for her to put the country first would be to go back to her Jerry Springer life and leave America alone.

    September 4, 2008 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  17. Chuck from California

    This is a good question. Thank you David for asking something sensible. I do think there will be a serious problem once all the hoopla is over - her views are extremely far to the right, anti-intellectual, and some of her religious views will frighten those who expect some level of thoughtfulness and at least a respect for pluralism among their leaders.

    McCain has illustrated in this election - as he did years ago kowtowing to the religious right (which he once called 'intolerant') that he will do anything to win. Neither soccer moms or independent voters will be swayed by throwing red meat to those Republicans hungry for something to chew on after trying to swallow the vapid campaign and uninspiring message (a new one every week!) of John McCain.

    But people are hungry for someone who provides leadership that is thoughtful, reasoned, respectful and forward-looking. Nothing Gov. Palin or Senator McCain offers is anthing new - it is more of the same and people have had eight years of miserable hubris and divisiveness.

    You might put a pretty face on it but it is the same ugly tactics and hostile speech - vacuous and demeaning. Will the press really do it's job and take a serious look at this potential President? Will they ask questions that require thoughtful, long answers and not pablum? We'll see if the fourth estate has the courage of their profession!

    September 4, 2008 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  18. d4obama


    September 4, 2008 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  19. MHW

    I for one find the whole anti-elitist argument to be astounding. I do not want someone just like me running the country. I want someone better and smarter.

    September 4, 2008 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  20. S. Geisselbrecht

    Quite a performance! Just a performance. This speech was just more of the McCain campaign attacking Obama. This was nothing new: we heard this from McCain during the primaries. Palin's speech was more strident and more of the same. The Republican party's plan is simply to avoid the real issues that this country must deal with quickly.

    Also, I have serious doubt that she wrote any of this speech. Nor do I think that she will be able to write the next speech regarding the economy, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, national security, taxes, education or health care. This woman will be second in line if anything should incapacitate McCain as President of the United States. I feel that she has absolutely no qualification to handle that job. To answer your question, I was cool. I am now cold.

    September 4, 2008 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  21. Matt

    Didn't hear the hope of Christ in this person. If this is what being a Christian in American is all about, count me out. I have had enough of these hypocrites.

    September 4, 2008 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  22. Slider

    I think Mr. Gergen that you need to get out a little more, and see what it is you've been missing.

    You've been "beltway" too long, sir.

    Palin appeals to the silent majority. It's real; it's there, and they do indeed vote.

    September 4, 2008 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  23. twinkletoes

    In a word – no – she will not connect with suburban American. She doesn't have a gracious bone in her body and has injected a degree of nastiness into the campaign that is disappointing. Obama went out of his way to stand up for her and her family, showing genuine concern , and she responds with vilification. How can anyone that immature be placed a heartbeat away from the presidency???

    September 4, 2008 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  24. doh!

    Hillary supporters are NOT staying home! We are going to vote AGAINST this woman who shares NONE of Hillary Clinton's values or views. This woman from Alaska is vile and cold hearted.

    September 4, 2008 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  25. Mark

    This little lady is a tough skinned hard hitter and the dems won't be able to recover now after this little lady hit the home run as VP contender. She is already a hit and a favorite! I never thought I'd see the day when we would have a female in the Whitehouse but that day is now. McCain has what it takes with his experience and integrity and now with Palin as his VP this election has finally found solid ground and a positive base with the leadership of McCain and Palin our Next President and Vice President of the United States of America!!!!!

    September 4, 2008 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
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