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. rodeo

    No, it won't play in the suburbs. Self-important, smarmy. Felt like a PTA state president's agenda. A thoroughly unpleasant experience

    September 4, 2008 01:36 am at 1:36 am |
  2. lr

    rj...even though abortion might not be the right shouldn't be up to the government to decide that for any woman. the government isn't going to be there day in and day out to help with whatever this woman is going through. let the woman decide and let her decision be between her and her maker!

    September 4, 2008 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  3. Small town NH

    I live in small town New Hampshire. I think Palin is an irresponsible choice, a pandering and cynical ploy, and she will not play well in this state, where McCain needs a little help. I've met the man twice here in New Hampshire, but this is too much. Those few rock-ribbed, Yankee Republicans that remain could not feel more out of touch with where the GOP has gone. I thought McCain was a chance at a return to real Republicanism, but now I don't think so very much.

    September 4, 2008 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  4. fixthebroken

    So, Obama took the high road not attacking Palin, and Palin rewards that high road with attacks, *proven* lies about things like Obama raising taxes, and basically calling people who do community service not real leaders.


    She is officially fair game and anything that is legitimate and truthful to attack her with should be used - you see I don't condone lying.

    Republicans are indeed a party of divisiveness and general hatred - but sadly that works for them to get elected.

    September 4, 2008 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  5. PB

    I'm not sure what her appeal is supposed to be. She offered nothing with regards to what SHE brings to the ticket.

    I sincerely hope all the caring Americans who give of themselves to lift up their communities listened carefully to her opinions on community service tonight. I find it telling that community service is considered a joke within the GOP. Same goes for civil liberties, I guess.

    Country first? Not from what I heard tonight. Oh, but thanks, because I wasn't aware that McCain was a POW.

    September 4, 2008 01:37 am at 1:37 am |
  6. David Smith

    I find the Democrats responses amusing. They sound quite foolish! It is obvious that they are terrified of Sarah Palin. They should. I suspect that there are a lot of folks across the country that, like me, are no longer undecided.

    September 4, 2008 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  7. DC10001

    Angry Northern Superlady Channels Party Frustation

    Sen. Palin is a good performer, but comes off as smug. She'll certainly gets the righteous anger vote. I don't think this message will connect with women at large.

    September 4, 2008 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  8. Jack

    Sad Angry Woman.......lost my vote...

    September 4, 2008 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  9. Sue

    No, American women will not take to her.

    She is as divisive as the campaign she is representing.


    September 4, 2008 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  10. IL voter

    It is hard to tell how much her style of rhetoric and "small-town" appeal will affect this election. I have been guilty of overestimating the critical-thinking skills of the voting public in the past (i.e. Dubya's second term). The woman has personality, to be sure. I would probably find her to be an ideal neighbor, but I would not want her in charge of my HOA. She may be tough and quick on her feet, but her agenda makes me shudder. Those that cast their votes because they believe Senator Obama is "arrogant", because they are angry that Hillary Clinton did not win the nomination, or that vote for the guy that they'd most like to "have a beer with" are numerous. They care not for issues. They do not educate themselves about the issues. They simply fall into the "Prom king, WE are more patriotic than you, we are more American than you" mentality. This is the mentality that the McCain campaign is reaching out to, and it is not to be scoffed at. There is no way of knowing how many of your fellow Americans fall into this easily lead and mislead category of voters. They have seen the failed policies of the last 8 years, but they are blind. They are reciting Rush and Dr. Laura as if these were their own ideas Still, they are going to cast a vote in November that counts just as much as your own. I think it all comes down to the youth vote, the vote for the people who have the most to lose. I sincerely hope that the young voters will turn out this year, as they never have before.

    September 4, 2008 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  11. Ervin Lang

    She was very sarcastic..And shame on her husband handing the infant off to the youngest daughter while he grand stands and accepts applause wave to the entire arena?And never took the infant back as he sat down...If Barack had a pregnant 17 year old daughter, White and Right America would say she is a typical black teenager and how Michelle and Barack are unfit parents

    September 4, 2008 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  12. Gerri

    Well at least they have something to cheer about,even though they will be crying after the election.

    September 4, 2008 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  13. Campsalmon

    It takes an airhead to like an airhead. I don't know any "hocky moms", but the "soccer moms" I know are not airheads.

    September 4, 2008 01:38 am at 1:38 am |
  14. Rodney Hopper II

    Absolutely not. She came off as bitter and divisive. She was unimpressive as a speaker and quite unlikable. People want answers to their economic issues, not a rehashing of W's campaign speech 4 years ago. I mean she basically alienated anyone who's ever held the title 'community organizer' for God's sakes. That's not the way to reach middle America. I'm surprised she didn't attack his time as a teacher. What a vile WAY OUT OF THE MAINSTREAM political operative this Palin is.

    September 4, 2008 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  15. Barbara

    You all keep CENSORING ME OUT – I'M an American that isn't going for the Big Oil Money and Power.

    Barbara September 4th, 2008 12:26 am ET
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    She was SHRILL – she was also screeching, jeering and quite condescending to a Constitutional Scholar. What is HER degree in?

    She's doing this(exploiting a Down Syndrome Child) for POWER and McCain/Bush/Chency/ROVE are doing it for oil.

    Censor this one out CNN – you CENSOR AMERICAN Viewpoints

    September 4, 2008 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  16. curt

    She did not seem anti-elitist to me, she seem disrespecful,rude and smug. her speech seem's she was told what to say, I am really convinced now that the Republican's are more of the same, if she mock's community organizing she is really only for some American people and not other's, do they think that helping Black people who are strugging is not important ? Elite media, us against them, divide and conquer, the republican's are playing the same old low down politic's no matter what new face they bring it, TIME FOR CHANGE, TIME TO GO FORWARD NOT BACKWARD

    September 4, 2008 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  17. Tasha

    All right ladies and gentlemen. The gloves are off....ROUND ONE!!! I think, as most of you have stated already, what the Republican party needed tonight was for someone to come in and show a bit of common since, and a bit of bipartisanship, to gain those moderate, line straddling voters. This speech did not do that. Palin, along with all the other speakers, just extended that bridge and are starting up their own island of McCalin Land. Yes, she got her rowdy crowd in the RNC room, but she completely missed her big opportunity to set a precedent and tone that would really make her a lethal component to the Republican campaign. She gave us:
    -More republican hate talk
    -More Obama bashing, with the same false arguments that have been factually disproven but the republican party keeps regergitating anyways
    -Nothing on their plans to turn the economy around
    -Nothing on healthcare, which I really want addressed
    -Education, foreign trade, energy, resources, oil dependency....NOTHING. She said nothing on their plans on the real issues and concerns facing america.
    -ONLY, more cut-throat talk, back sliding, twisting truths, and lies. Lies, lies and more lies.
    -And more low-down, below the belt politc talk that I, personally, am sick and tired of, and I, American, have had ENOUGH!!!!

    Obama 08!!!!!

    September 4, 2008 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  18. Jamie

    After our formal "introduction" I'm left quite cold. She came across as mean, petty, smug, self-righteous... Much like President Bush has been over the last eight years and like him I'm sure that won't play very well with other world leaders. I'm sorry but Republicans just seem bitter and hateful towards anyone who doesn't totally agree with them. Does anybody else remember when they disliked McCain before he completely started pandering to "the base"? You know, just a couple months ago?

    September 4, 2008 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  19. Lopez

    The election is about the economy, not about Palin. A woman who is exploiting her children to get McCain elected.

    Many families have teenage daughters who become pregnant and keep their kids. Palin is acting like she is the very first mother to have a teenage daughter that is pregnant in high school.

    We have already seen what the Republicans can do for our economy. NOTHING!!!

    Obama/Biden 2008!!!

    September 4, 2008 01:39 am at 1:39 am |
  20. Ernie

    Mona, did you watch the DNC? Every speech by both parties had attacks. Goodness people, take the plank out of your own eyes!

    September 4, 2008 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  21. Barry, Texas

    David Gergen is probably one of the smartest people in America (even if he is a Republican). That's why he has advised 4 presidents. His analysis always gets to the heart of the matter. I think he has this exactly right. The moderate independents and Republicans are going to be turned off by the hateful and obnoxious rhetoric this woman is spewing out. It's not 1968 and we don't need a female Spiro Agnew.

    September 4, 2008 01:40 am at 1:40 am |

    She does not appeal to me (and I'm a woman). She just another extremist wright-wing republican trying to tell the rest of us mortals how to live our lives. Palin wishes she was Hillary Clinton or Nancy Pelosi, even Elizabeth Dole.

    September 4, 2008 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  23. The 15th letter

    Oh no-I'm not going for another 4 years of mega disaster.

    After the respect Obama gave her, you would like to think Mrs. Palin would show the same in return...this hockey mom has a lot to learn!

    September 4, 2008 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  24. maytenmadison

    Just look at all the white faces in that audience. I am so encouraged when I look at Obama's crowd... you see a lot of everything... male/female, white/black/hispanic/... just everything... this crowd looks like the 1800s with better ads.

    September 4, 2008 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
  25. Anonymous

    Other people see Sarah Palin as a great pick because it portrays diversity however; Sarah Palin’s nomination as the Vice-President is not about her record but more about a power pick, a pick of popularity. John McCain needed that ingredient in order to capture another demographic of the voting population.

    September 4, 2008 01:40 am at 1:40 am |
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