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. CommonSense

    Palin's pick is nothing but a curve ball rather than home run. This is just an attempt to win over Hillary supporters and galvanize the Republican base. Palin's pick is purely political. John Mccain's claim he puts country first and party last is just a plain Washington lies and clear attempt to repeat Bush policy of deceit.

    September 4, 2008 01:33 am at 1:33 am |
  2. Bryan


    September 4, 2008 01:33 am at 1:33 am |
  3. jim

    I had to laugh. My son said, what is going on. All of a sudden it looks like highly educated people acting like they are gangstas trying to scare somebody with their awful tactics. He was undecided but made up his mind now to go with Obama.

    The RNC is a big disappointment to him and myself.

    September 4, 2008 01:34 am at 1:34 am |
  4. JB

    Wow... this is the best blog comentary? A woman attacking Obama? What's the big deal? Both Biden and Obama attacked McCain... regretfully, that's politics. Personally, I don't like any of the choices... Please people, make a political point! enough with the non-issues, he said she said. The problem isn't the politicians, it's the media and the citizens who don't demand all canidates answer direct questions... no one wants to report on actual facts, news had gone from news to comentary entertainment! And you all just accept it and feed it by making stupid points that have nothing to do with factual accurate info. Careful what you ask for, you get what you deserve.

    September 4, 2008 01:34 am at 1:34 am |
  5. Independent voter

    From an independent perspective, and a young voter…I felt like she was waiting for an applause right after each statement. I don't know if I am the only who had notice this pattern where she would somewhat was waiting for affirmation on each statement. It seems like she wanted everyone to pinch her in every statement she made, as if she wasn't even convinced on her own speech. The speech really showed weakness. She should've pinched herself really hard before she walked up the stage…

    September 4, 2008 01:34 am at 1:34 am |
  6. betty

    I am a mother and a former career woman. I believe women should have every opportunity to succeed and progress in whatever they choose to do. However, I would never expose my 17 year old pregnant daughter to the national spotlight just to achieve my ambitions. How could any loving parent do this? No matter bow much I may have wanted the opportunity I would have to decline for the good of my family. When Sarah Palin is able to make that executive decision she just may have the necessary experience on the national stage. Her performance so far leaves much to be desired.

    September 4, 2008 01:34 am at 1:34 am |
  7. socalgal

    Palin’s speech was a disappointment for me. I expected an intelligent, eloquent, and substantive first national speech. Instead, Palin’s speech read like a cheap stand-up comedy act which pandered to small town evangelical right wing extremists.

    Palin is no match for Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity. I expect a monologue riddled with insulting political innuendo from Limbaugh, Hannity, et al, but I expect a certain level of civility, respect, substance—and most of all, common decency—from candidates running for the two highest elected offices in the United States. Regardless of political party, in the end, the President and Vice President must represent all Americans. The President and Vice President do not have the privilege of representing only members of their party. A national candidate who spews non-stop insults, belittlements, and mockery toward her opponents is as offensive as she is divisive.

    Palin’s focus on small town leadership is disconcerting given the challenges and social ills faced by the vast majority of Americans who live in more populous counties and cities. For the average American, the challenges of daily life overwhelm. Millions of Americans suffer from the ills brought on by poverty, unemployment, poor education, poor healthcare, inflation, traffic congestion, and soaring home prices. Millions of Americans are victims of murder, rape, and burglary. Drug traffickers terrorize whole neighborhoods and destroy the lives on many young children. While Palin is proud of her small town experience, I question whether she has the fortitude to deal with life inside the city limits.

    I live in a county with a population of +3 million, and a state population of +36 million people. The entire state of Alaska is home to fewer than 700 thousand people. The unemployment rate in my state is 7.9%. The unemployment rate in Alaska is a full percentage point lower. The median price of a single family home in my city is $783,000. The median price of a single family home in Alaska’s largest city, Anchorage, is $250,000.

    Life in a small town is idyllic, affordable, and relatively crime-free. It doesn’t take much to lead a small town. By contrast, the most seasoned of politicians barely make a difference in the modern American urban communities. Being a “barracuda” on the basketball court is one thing; achieving success on the mean streets of America is another matter all together.

    Finally, Palin never gave us substance. She humiliated and degraded women with her sexist blow kiss to the former POW. Palin never gave us her resume. Never gave us her vision for American, and never addressed a single social/cultural issue faced by Americans. In fact, they display fringe group behavior. it was down right creepy to see a huge auditorium filled with thousands of angry white people screaming: "Drill Baby, Drill!"
    The experience was surreal: a crazed fringe group chanting and pumping their fists in the air, they invoked an image similar to a Klu Klux Klan or Nazi rally. From Giuliani first words, non-stop through Palin's last words, they filled the air with a raw anger and hate. Really creepy. Really not representative of America.

    September 4, 2008 01:34 am at 1:34 am |
  8. Gloria

    Do the Republicans really believe that rural small towns will bow down to Palin? Why would they be any dumber than the Republicans in larger towns.?
    OBAMA.BIDEN 2008

    September 4, 2008 01:34 am at 1:34 am |
  9. Democrat Abroad looking for GOP beef

    David – This team has marginal appeal in the suburbs. The Palin pick was a hasty stab at galvanizing a base that was adrift and hadn't fully warmed up to their candidate. Now, the "maverick" has sold his soul to Palin's agenda or else it will appear he lacked good judgement in picking her – Catch 22.

    September 4, 2008 01:34 am at 1:34 am |
  10. diamond

    i have 9 brothers and sisters and one of my brothers was born with (D S) and we are so proud that our mother had him and we all love him verry much and he brings great happiness to all of us and i understand why she thinks this way and by the way i am a dem but i have never voted for rep before but i will this time she gave a great speach and im sure she will do very well for john mccain and CNN is trying to dig up all the trash they can on this woman because they know the dems are in trouble

    September 4, 2008 01:34 am at 1:34 am |
  11. Weren't you guys in charge?

    Palin talked a lot about changing Washington, but is she aware of the fact that her party has been in charge of Washington for the last 8 years? She talks a lot about family value, but how about the fact that she let her daughter get pregnant under her very own nose. If she can't even change her own kid, how is she going to change Washington?

    September 4, 2008 01:34 am at 1:34 am |
  12. Eileen

    Her speech, her "humor", etc. was nothing more than a woman practicing for the last 4 days what McCain's writer wrote for her. She's not qualified and McCain is totally irresponsible for choosing her! Alaska has 1.1 people per square mile – not a lot to manage. All the Republicans did was manage to show that they can teach a puppy to speak.

    September 4, 2008 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  13. marty

    you almost had me there campbell brown. your "just doing your job" which is so rare these days was refreshing the other day. your palin's hate speech analysis was back to new media' role of shallow and worthless. oh well "hope springs etenal" even for the cable news.

    September 4, 2008 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  14. TXMomof2

    I am a suburban woman, a mom, and a professional, and frankly, there was nothing in her speech that appealed to me. I don't even think her speech tried to appeal to me. It seemed to be the same speech Guiliani and Romney gave, with a little bit of her bio. There was nothing in it to tell me why she and McCain should get my vote, just alot of nasty digs and some inside jokes (I guess) that I did not quite get.

    And I was really bothered by those "hot chick" buttons, and I wondered why no one (the commentators) said anything about them even though they were clearly shown in close up several times.

    Is all that "left-wing, liberal elite media" stuff working?

    September 4, 2008 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  15. E

    She claims the "small town values" of people like Truman? Truman was a DEMOCRAT. You know who else was from small towns, Carter and Clinton! All of them had far more education adn experience than Palin. But I guess she would know these things if she had a clue about American politics and history.

    September 4, 2008 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  16. David Arce

    As an independent voter I think it is pathetic and repugnant the way that the Republican Party tries to pull a fast ball on the American people. WHERE are the real issues that affect our daily lives, such the terrible inflation, the ruined economy and the foreclosure fiasco. We have to vote on a referendum on the failed administration of 8 years under George Bush and the Republican Party. Sarah Palin has a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism and tries to compare her education with a Harvard educated Lawyer, that my friends is to try to strechhhhh the truth way too far. By the way Barack Obama has no Managerial Experience as a Governor but what about John McCain? . Not this time, not this time.

    September 4, 2008 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  17. Joseph Cerquitella

    Get out of the Beltway and go into America. I have not seen such excitement, genuine joy for a candidate in 20 years. WHY? Many reasons...but basically Palin is not from Washington, don't you all get it? Look at the Approval ratings for Congress. Well Palin is what we have hoped for, but did not know where to look. McCain ( or somebody) found her. Get used to her, in 8 years she may well be making the Thursday Night speech at the NRC !

    September 4, 2008 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  18. mc

    This suburban woman(and my husband) loved Palin. Obama and Biden do not speak for us and our views. Sarah Palin voiced everything that my husband and I have been saying for months about Mr. Obama. We are Democrats who are now PERMANENT Republicans!!!!

    September 4, 2008 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  19. Todd for McCain

    Sara Palin Rocks. She is going to make a fantastic VP

    September 4, 2008 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  20. thisniss

    I am not sure if I'm a "suburban" mom. I live in a medium-sized college town in a "purplish-red" state (NC). I grew up in small towns in KY. Sarah Palin wouldn't really appeal to most women in either of these, based on her approach tonight. On policy, I think she would have a lot of appeal to the small town "values voters" I grew up with in Kentucky. But her approach was all wrong. Too angry. She didn't really say what she was for, or what a McCain administration would do. And the way she tries to use her family to score political points, at the same time she attacks the press for going after her family – well, small town folks can see through that kind of hypocrisy.

    Amongst the "Mommy and Me"/PTA suburban style mothers that I live around now, I think Palin is a bad fit for different reasons. A lot of women I know question her judgment for entering the race with an infant son who has special needs, to say nothing of subjecting her eldest daughter to the scrutiny of recent days. Obviously, the Governor has every right to balance work and parenting as she and her husband deem best, but there is a certain quality of whimsy to her selection (and her decision to accept the offer) that makes her judgment seem questionable. Did she really think through the ramifications of her candidacy, for her family and herself? It sure doesn't look like it, based on the stories that have emerged in just her first few days. And that apparent lack of common sense doesn't sit well with the less exotic moms who *don't* hunt moose and take eight hour flights while in labor.

    September 4, 2008 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  21. Billy, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

    Once again, what we get from the Republican's is a rewriting of history. And not just that, but Ms. Palin's speech was one of lot's of flash, but absolutely NO substance. Her sarcasm was completely unattractive and was a turn-off, despite the adoration she recieved from Wolf Blitzer and other CNN correspondants. They blew the acheivements of this speech completely out of proportion. This speech showed that the bi-partisanship that grid-lock's Washington started with and is perpetuated by the Republican's. There is no desire on their side to work with anyone other than themselves. The Republican's have come to stand for–If you're not a Republican, you're unpatriotic, you're UnAmerican. Well, that is not what our forefather's designed our form of government for, Republican's aren't for more freedom, history bears this out to be true. They want to be in your bedrooms, in your hospital rooms and tell you how to live your life.
    For years they have claimed to be for smaller government and lower taxes, while the last three Republican presidents have seen us through the largest expansion in government and the largest increase in our national debt. The ONLY reason that the current Democratic congress has not got anything done is because they don't have enough of a majority to override a veto and President Bush, who in the first six years of his presidency never used his veto, has vetoed EVERY peice of Democratic legislation that has come across his desk.
    The Republican's are the party of cynic's. They count on American's having short memories or America's "stupidity". They repeat their talking points to death–they use the basic advertising principal that if the average American hears something three times, they believe it to be true, ala the HEAD-ON commercials. We have to show them that we are smarter than that. This nation cannot withstand another 4 to 8 years of Republican rule, they don't govern, they rule. The most prosperous time in the last twenty years came with a Democratic President who balanced our budget and curtailed the building of our national debt. And that is not revisionist history!

    September 4, 2008 01:36 am at 1:36 am |
  22. Phil an Independent

    Gov. Palin came off tonight and rude, shrude, and condescending as she belittle the work of community organizers. I'm with Roland Martin on this. As a communiy organizer myself, the republicans completely dissed our work for those same small town folks that are attempting to pander to with this selection of Palin. Obama has my vote!

    September 4, 2008 01:36 am at 1:36 am |
  23. S Eastman

    I'm a small, town farm girl from Illinois who now lives in Republican, all white (all most) suburbia. Sarah is not only not playing well among my family and friends of my hometown; she is not playing well in the country club set of my present life.

    The difference between this election and the ones of years ago is the ability for people in families and for friends to easily and to often communicate with each other. Whether you live in small towns or the suburbs or big cities, you usually know people in each place and talk or write to them frequently. Thus, the tactics of divide and conquer, of scare and wedge politics that might have worked in the past, won't work this time. Americans simply talk and share knowledge, thoughts, and ideas across the previous geographic divisions too often for the "old divisive ways" to work.

    This country is not as nearly divided into neat groups of people as some would like to think. What was it someone once said about fooling all the people some of the time.....etc? Once the American public finally gets interested in something, the collective wisdom that is unleashed can be inspiring. And I think you would agree that this time we are certainly interested.

    September 4, 2008 01:36 am at 1:36 am |
  24. Shepp

    Suburban folks don't want thier kids drafted for the next wave of war in the mideast.
    I heard NO policy from ANYONE tonight except the policy of sleaze.
    GOP has quite a double standard for the press...
    Uh didn't they rip Mrs. Obama to pieces?...
    This is Orwell come true....oh yeah I forgot so has the last 8 years been..oops my meds wore off.

    September 4, 2008 01:36 am at 1:36 am |
  25. JMaier, Fairbanks, Alaska

    I can't stand Palin. She's George W. Bush with ovaries. Our country cannot take 4 more years of destructive economic policies. There are a lot of intelligent, experienced, stateswomen that McCain could have selected. Instead, he chose to insult American women with this charade.

    September 4, 2008 01:36 am at 1:36 am |
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