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. Rajiv Dhawale

    In simple words. This was the most pathetic display of politics by the Republicans. I am not sure if inexperience is the right word here, Her face, her mannerism sugested a "whiny" lady. Are we saying she is qualified to be a VP ? please give me a break. sorry this ammunication is the wrong kind in Mccains gun and when used will fire in the wrong direction..Go Obama,,,,,,,,,,,,

    September 4, 2008 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  2. JolleeDemocrat

    Palin was the best! I am a Democrat myself, however, like Ronald Reagan said "I did not leave the Democratic party, they left me!" exactly my sentiment.

    I will be voting for this fabulous McCain ticket this election, I will be voting against my party for the first time in my life, I am 44 now. I am voting for the Maverick that selected this enlightning VP.

    Go Senator McCain, we love you! Yes we can!

    September 4, 2008 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  3. Stephen

    How can you mention Katrina... and only lament over the strategic petroleum reserve being opened during the shortfall and say nothing about the devastation to hundreds of thousands of peoples lives, homes and communities. Not to mention over 1800 people died.... but it is really sad that we tapped our oil reserve?

    Sounds REALLY out of touch to me

    September 4, 2008 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  4. merche

    Thank you Mrs. Palin after hearing your speech I'm voting for Obama.

    September 4, 2008 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  5. Ryan

    I just would like her to answer some questions from the media and general public. I am disturbed that the "right" would make such statements without outlining their own agenda. it is just truly disturbing. I know exactly who I am voting for now!! And the accusation that the media is stirring the pot. Huge mistake for those on the fence.

    Obama '08

    September 4, 2008 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  6. Roxanne

    Palin is a double-edged sword. In shoring up the base in the convention center, she managed to isolate the base from the public at large. Her well delivered series of barbs may have seemed clever to the choir–and she seemed very pleased with herself–but that was exactly what most of America is sick and tired of (and what McCain used to rally against). What shocks me the most is why she raises such things as the bridge to nowhere, which it turns out she voted for before she voted against, and why she talks about ethics and other reforms when she a) is under investigation for ethics violations, and b) hired the very lobbiests to get earmarks that she says she is fighting against. How can she talk about executive experience when McCain has none? She is one big contradiction, and her word cannot be trusted.

    I hope the mainstream press will examine closely what she did to her hometown–left it in debt, fired devoted public servants, and tried to fire the librarian (Laura Bush must be livid) when she refused to ban books that Palin wanted to censor.


    September 4, 2008 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  7. Monica

    Governor Palen and her speech did not at all resonate with me. It was mean and divisive–no substance. In fact, so far, the RNC has been all about divisiveness and nothing about how McCain plans to "reform" this country. I do not think that other Americans (except the far right wing republicans) will take to her.

    September 4, 2008 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  8. Allan

    Nasty, petty, insulting, and just plain mean.

    This American will do everything in his power to make sure this harridan is kept far away from the White House. If they like her in Alaska, they can have her.

    Here in the lower 48, we like our leaders to inspire the best in us, not mock and belittle fine Americans like Obama, Biden and Reid.

    September 4, 2008 01:46 am at 1:46 am |
  9. Jane Davis

    I do not think that Palin's speech was anything but a hot air baloon that was written for her, delivered well, with no heart and no substance and at the end exploded into nothing but smugness. I do not think she will help the Republicans.

    September 4, 2008 01:46 am at 1:46 am |
  10. Greta

    She is a poorly educated extremist who would be placed in a role that would be well beyond her experience and preparation. What a cynical, irresponsible selection by McCain!

    September 4, 2008 01:46 am at 1:46 am |
  11. Melonie Taylor

    Sarah Palin reminded me of the middle school bully who was the "popular girl" that led her clique around by the nose using sarcasm and belitting comments to undermine the confidence of those girls who just didn't quite measure up as part of the crowd. As a retired teacher, I saw this technique used many times. Somehow this very mocking technique, delivered with a derisive smile, just might appeal to women and men who were the very ones bullied. I loved my students and always hoped those doing the bullying and those bullied would mature and overcome this type of experience. I'm not at all sure Sarah Palin has done that. Her speech was delivered very well and was extremely effective. She will be a tough adversary for the Democratic ticket.

    September 4, 2008 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  12. No Mcsame or Not Hillary in 08

    McCain/Palin must be synonomous with that french expression used to describe a lack of substance-full of $h!t.

    In Palins littany of attacks she never once diverted from the telepromopter to say i will do this this and this for our healthcare system, education, our economy, gas prices, infastructure, renewable energy, mortgage crisis, immagration, securing our borders, rebuilding the military, social security, national deficit.
    This is what i wanted to know about from a canidate for heartbeats from presidency. Not stab after stab and joke after joke mixed in with "I'm a hockey mom".

    September 4, 2008 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  13. Sam Dorsey

    Sarah Palin does not look like the "girl next door" to me. Her speech tonight was divisive and made her fair game for the same type of attacks she levied on Obama.

    September 4, 2008 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  14. das2

    I am so disappointed with Gov Palin's approach to introduce herself to the American people. All she did was prove that she could read a speech written for her by Bush's speechwriter and lower herself to say whatever tasteless, pit bull smear they told her to say. THIS IS NOT A MAVERICK OR A REFORMER. THIS IS A PUPPET! I don't think this speech addressed one issue the American people are wanting to hear from the McCain campaign. But of course, I forgot, McCains campaign manager said that this race was not going to be about the issues! They know they can't win on the issues, so it's just more of the same divisive rhetoric that does not do justice to the American voters.

    September 4, 2008 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  15. Seth Sharon

    i think palin power sums it up best, she will not take any baloney from washington. i loved those signs at the convention Straight Talk!

    September 4, 2008 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  16. JolleeDemocrat

    I am so excited about this ticket, I truly dont believe the last time I felt so energized by an election. I am a Democrat, female, 44 years old.

    I am pro-choice but respect people's pro-life stance. I even find myself being more toward pro-life just becuase I am a proud mother and just recently a proud grandmother.

    I like Sara Palin, she has more experience in Public office at city councel level, mayor level and Governership of the Oil rich state of Alaska.

    She has more experience then any of the running candidates. I like the fact that she is a reformer and fights corruptive government. She is also well verced in the oil industry, they know not to mess with her! I am voting for the Maverick who selected this great VP.

    #1. Go John McCain, we love you!

    September 4, 2008 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  17. Len Albuq New Mexico

    She's a total turn off in every way. All I heard was more fear mongering, partisan, hypocracy. She needs to discuss some form of birth control with her husband. Don't most women know that birthing a child after the age of 40 is risky to mother and child, and her new born baby has (down syndrome). That is sick, selfish, and irresponsible.

    September 4, 2008 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  18. Simone

    I am a Democrat who supported Hillary, but I wanted to see what Gov. Palin had to offer, after all I am a woman first. My goodness.... what a show! I was extremely disappointed that she took the SAME LOW road that the Republicans always seem to take. I think she is a very smart woman, who is amazing to be able to balance a large family and such a demanding career. However, since she has decided to play NASTY, I can't wait for the Dems to go after her, but then again, when they do, they will be called SEXIST. I could not stand to watch her speech in it's entirety, it made me cringe. I am officially voting for Obama !!!!!

    September 4, 2008 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  19. Kay

    Sarah Palin is the brightest light of hope that has hit the front line political scene for decades. She is more than a match for the Obama Celebrity President wannabe. This is a VP that will roll up her sleeves and serve the people and put them first. Obama is a Leo and they just love the drama and theatricals. Palin can work at all levels of society and is flexible enough as an Aquarian to meet the needs of all. She is a true humanitarian and America has seen nothing yet. Every time you try to typecast her she will pull out more magnetic energy that will satisfy every doubt.

    Palin is heaven sent and thank God she arrived just in time to help save America from complete self-destruction. However, if you prefer a man that likes to sit on planes flying around the world giving out his orders, best you choose Obama who will lead america into the ditch.

    September 4, 2008 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  20. Rick K

    I live in suburbia.

    Sarcastic, angry, belittling, juvenile, mocking, attacks, out here, sound, well, sarcastic, angry, ...

    This woman sounded like the popular cheerleader telling everyone to hate the smart kid – and I do mean HATE.

    It would be pathetic if it weren't so awfully dangerous.

    September 4, 2008 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  21. notsowowed

    What was she thinking? Attacking pit bull style only pushes women away. Her speech was all attack (pit bull style) and no substance.

    September 4, 2008 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  22. Todd

    I can totally relate to the first commenter, Patty.

    I sometimes listen to talk radio, when I'm stuck in traffic. Gov. Palin's speech really did sound no different than the type of stuff that Laura Ingram, Sean Hannity, Hugh Hewitt, Rush Limbaugh etc., talk about every single day.

    If you're a conservative who loves talk radio ... and more importantly agrees with what they say, there's no doubt Sarah Palin is pretty much your dream candidate.

    But, if you're the type of person who may occasionaly find talk radio rhetoric entertaining, but can't imagine those people actually running the country for 4 more years ...

    Enough said.

    btw, this moderate Independent Was Inspired by Palin's speech. After it was over, I went to and donated $50.

    September 4, 2008 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  23. HW

    What message is America sending to the rest of the worl. One could not choose a more divisive person. Pro Gun, anti abortion and not having the own household under control.

    Anybody given it a thought that McCain's age could potentially lead Ms Palin taking over. A frightening thought indeed.

    I hope the electorate as a whole is smart enough to see past the smoke screen.

    September 4, 2008 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  24. Cindy Miller

    Come on, Wolf....."A Star is Born"? The CNN staff needs to grow some chest hair and stop being so afraid to criticize a mean-spirited and mocking speech by Palin. All I heard were disparaging and negative comments about the democratic candidates and absolutely NOTHING about why we should vote for the republican ticket. What are they going to do to shore up this sinking ship? Go ahead Palin, throw rocks at your competition and perhaps they too will be too afraid to confront the bully barracuda. I'm a 44 year old married, working mother who supported Senator Clinton and am supremely unimpressed with Palin.
    And Campbell, pllleeeease.......shrill? She was absolutely shrill..!! Please democrats, don't tip toe around this cocky, mean, bully Palin. So what, she has a handsome looking family. So do we all, but we are not all knowledgeable enough or wise enough to heave this country up out of the sink hole we've encountered under the Bush administration. Please don't be afraid to offend us women by shedding light on her inexperience, mean tactics and shiny lipstick.

    September 4, 2008 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
  25. Frank

    I found Sarah Palin to be not only a good attack dog for John McCain, but also very condescending in her speech. Unfortunately, unlike Joe Biden, who has a history we can refer to, Ms. Palin is an unknown. She needs to tell us what she will bring to the political table. Attack dogs are a dime a dozen. Condescending attack dogs are benieth the office she is running for, Her condescention brings back the smarmy rhetoric of Jerry Falwell and his ilk. Don't they get it? The religious right is no longer relevant.

    September 4, 2008 01:48 am at 1:48 am |
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