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. John F. Leech

    Palin isn't going to do McCain any good with anyone other than the conservative right wind of the GOP. Even more of a issue is McCain's poor judgment in selecting Palin in the first place. McCain's number will start to go South in the AM and continue to do so, until he comes to his senses, and forces her to step down. Either way he's toast. The GOP is DOOMED.

    September 4, 2008 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  2. Concerned

    I am amazed that anyone Democratic or Republican would spend more than a split second considering this woman for a position of this gravity. The RNC is getting exactly what they want right now – and that's people and the media talking about non important issues; her family, her child's pregnancy, etc. which as we all know have nothing to do with running the office of the Vice President of the United States. Step back people, get some perspective....we ARE talking about that office here and once you remind yourself of that, there is now way anyone can seriously say she's ready for the gig. I don't understand why this is hard to get?

    September 4, 2008 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  3. das2

    What a disappointment. Gov Palin proved SHE IS NOT A MAVERICK – SHE IS A PUPPET for the Bush speechwriters and handlers. She did not address the issues important to the voters. But I forgot, McCain's campaign manager said this race was not going to be about the issues. That's good, because McCain can't win on the issues.

    September 4, 2008 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  4. Rachael Johnson

    Her speech will tug at many American's hearts, especially with her comments about her family and her youngest child who has special needs. And for the most part, I agree with David's commentary.

    BUT, her "pit bull attack" style does not convince me that she is what America needs in a Vice-President for two reasons: 1. Again, like many have commented, her style is signaling Bush - shoot first, ask questions later; and 2. As we have seen, being too hasty to attack has not served American's well.

    September 4, 2008 01:49 am at 1:49 am |
  5. Michele

    She did not sit well with me. None of the speakers did. Tonight the Republicans kept saying they were the real party of change, not Obama (although did anybody else notice they were all white- not exactly representing all of America) but it seems like they forgot some other key words, such as hope and unity.
    The ugly tone of the speeches tonight was very off-putting

    September 4, 2008 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  6. Independent Observer

    Not with the low road to politics. Suburban women are hurting economically.

    We want our sons back from iraq. What does it mean to win a war when the place is stable and the iraqis want us out anyway.

    Even bush and chenney want to bring our boys home.

    Why is the convention all about war?

    She doesn't even support equal pay for women because her husband works for big oil companies. give me a break.

    this whole thing is like a fairy tale.

    September 4, 2008 01:50 am at 1:50 am |

    This is what excites the evangelical Christian base? Mean sarcasm?

    I remember when being Christian didn't just mean believing Jesus Christ was the son of God – it also meant being a kind person. That last part seems to have gone out of the Christian right-wing movement.

    I know politicians should be tough. But I don't think being snarky and rude is the same thing as being 'tough'.

    Community organizers across the country give their blood, sweat, and tears to causes (and people!) they care about. And she just made fun of all of them (not just Obama) by making it sound as though that job is a joke.

    She shouldn't be proud of that – and neither should all of those fine Christian folks who cheered her on.

    September 4, 2008 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  8. madman

    yes– thank you Sheila, that is the word: smug.

    Sarah Smug.

    September 4, 2008 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  9. StartswithB

    I read a couple of comments saying that she's a pitt Bull in lipstick. Well, there's another word for that and it starts with a capital "B"... she's a "Bush".

    She sounds very angry in her speech.. and I hate how she smirks every time she made a negative comment about Obama. Her "punch" lines against Obama makes her THE joke.

    She's just a female version of McCain.. more of the same. Oh.. Sarah.. you forgot to mention something in your speech.... the economy!

    September 4, 2008 01:50 am at 1:50 am |
  10. Jesse

    You Obama freaks are pathetic, you are the only ones posting here. I am a Democrat, but this time it NOBAMA. Id rather the pit-bull with lipstick lead the country than an egotistical man.

    September 4, 2008 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  11. RickH

    Among other things the Palin speech demonstrates how easy it is to go after the Obama record. Many Obamaites will take these attacks personally because they have so much naive "hope" invested in the guy. Too bad the dems didn't choose the person who really deserved to win – HC. A lot of people are going to be disappointed with Obama. He may even lose this thing.

    September 4, 2008 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  12. SmallTownMama4Obama

    Woah, Bubba! November cannot come soon enough for this mother. Virtually everything coming out of this convention has been gruesome.
    Who is this "Family Values Woman" with a special-needs preemie hauled out for publicity, while she makes a play for the Big Time?

    She's as hypocritical and into cheating for her own gain as any other corrupt pol out there! What about directly addressing the issues which are crucially important to the average citizen? You won't hear about them here! It's a creepy hate-fest .

    Incredible display--can you smell the desperation?!

    September 4, 2008 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  13. Millie

    No she will ot appeal to suburban women. She is downright nasty, rude, arrogant and yes shrill. I am a woman and there is no way she is appealing to me. She failed the commander in chief test tonight. She inspired no confidence. She is NOT ready to lead and the thought of her becoming president is downright scary. All I can see is a female Karl Rove. Heaven knows we've had enough of that. I was very disappointed in her.

    September 4, 2008 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  14. 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 speech 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 sophism.

    I hope she stays the course as a VP candidate. She will not appeal to suburban America; because families in suburbia want to have control over their own lives, and not have choices as to how to deal with family issues dictated by government.

    September 4, 2008 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  15. Hanging with Hillary

    If the Republican talking point is that this woman who was mayor of a tiny town and governor for 20 months is more qualified to lead the country than Barak Obama and Joe Biden combined, then they are saying she is more experienced than John McCain as well. If her "administrative" experience gives her the right to be president, than John McCain doesn't qualify either. He has never been a mayor or led a company. They are saying he "is ready to lead" and then talk about him being a POW. How did he get administrative experience in a dark cell?

    I simply don't understand the argument. If being a U.S. Senator is trumped by being a mayor of a town of 6,500 people, then John McCain has not met the requirement either. I guess this 44-year-old hockey mom has them all beat.

    The RNC is much like the DNC in that it is ...ALL ABOUT OBAMA!

    P.S. In case anyone missed it...John McCain is a POW.

    September 4, 2008 01:52 am at 1:52 am |
  16. Frank

    The hateful diatribes that American heard tonight cannot possibly do the Republican Party any good.

    When they are compared with the hopeful and forward looking message being delivered by the Democrats, it is hard to imagine that people will choose another four year of the same kind of venality that has sickened our culture for the last eight years.

    Instead of "God bless America" I suspect that many of us tonight are praying "God please rescue America.

    September 4, 2008 01:52 am at 1:52 am |
  17. I couldn't help seeing Tanya Harding

    Listening to Paline's speech was painful. A couple of jabs here and there are OK, but her speech moved quickly from jabs to attacks to full-blown sickening bile. I truly had a hard time getting through the speech. There was absolutely no substance to it. It was pandering and shallow. In my mind I kept envisioning another "pitbull in lipstick", Tanya Harding. She wasn't as good as the competition, so she resorted to an attack to take out the competition. I can't imagine that she will appeal to anyone beyond the established base. American women, suburban, urban or rural, are smart enough to want more than an "outsider" as Vice President (or, God forbid, President). This country needs the most intelligent and strategic team in the oval office. Outsider "pit bull" status doesn't add to the resume. It makes me cringe to imagine her handling anything to do with foreign affairs.

    September 4, 2008 01:52 am at 1:52 am |
  18. GeoLee

    Her speech sealed the deal for this currrently registered Republican in a Red central state former Hillary supporter. Barack Obama andJoe Biden will get my vote. The thought of this woman being one melanoma away from the presidency scares me as much as if Dick Cheney, Karl rove or Adolph HItler ran. In fact when I get off this site,I am calling Obama's campaign to donate a hundred dollars. I am hoping someone is there overnight to take my debit card number. I only hope angry people like her and those who applauded her don"t bring their moose rifles to DC on January 20th with harmful intentions toward the people I now hope will win. But I would not put anything past that group of people. Wow what a huge disappointment.

    September 4, 2008 01:53 am at 1:53 am |
  19. Jeff C

    She was dynamite, and anyone doubting her exploding popularity – and the positive affect it's having on the McCain ticket – will be unhinged come election day. McCain/Palin will win 52-48. America wants change, but far more Americans relate to Palin and McCain than Obama and Biden. Obama is an amazing communicator and has a compelling story. But he is the most liberal senator, period. His voting record speaks for itself, and America will not vote for anyone with his core beliefs once the curtain is pulled back during the debates. Saddleback was a hint of what's coming. McCain will trounce him in debates, and Palin will more than hold her own against blowhard Biden.

    September 4, 2008 01:53 am at 1:53 am |
  20. VSS

    It was a home run. She hit it right out of the park. Of course everyone knew before she even gave the speech that the extreme left in this country do not just dislike her, they have already demonstrated by their baseless savage attacks this week, that they hate her. But the Democatic left in this country have always been and will always be nothing but shallow mindless haters. However, for the majority of Americans she connected big time. My prediction is she just sealed the deal for John McCain as the next President of the United States.

    September 4, 2008 01:53 am at 1:53 am |
  21. Mary B

    After watching Palin's speech at the convention, I am more mystified than ever as to why McCain thought this choice would be a good idea. She's clearly a smart, successful career woman. Great. Let's invite her to book club. But leader of the free world???? Surely they can't be serious about this.

    September 4, 2008 01:53 am at 1:53 am |


    September 4, 2008 01:53 am at 1:53 am |
  23. DE

    Much of Sarah Palin's viability as a candidate for Vice-President is weighted on her role as a mother for 19 plus years. And for the past 13 years as a mother and public servant. Based on those criteria, she falls short.
    Failing to have a teenage daughter heed any reasonable guidance about abstinence/safe sex and subjecting the same daughter to national exposure during an out of wedlock pregnancy suggests an uncomfortable disconnect about Ms. Palin.
    Was she so fixed on raising her national profile that she accepted Senator McCain's offer at the expense of her family's emotional health.
    The same may be true in press accounts of her flying from Dallas, Texas to a Seattle, Washington layover, and Alaska after her water broke before she delivered her last child who was pre-diagnosed with Down Syndrome.
    Governor Palin is untested. Mother Palin is reckless.
    Vice-Presidential Candidate Palin is overmatched.

    September 4, 2008 01:53 am at 1:53 am |
  24. brian

    The only suburbs she might not do well in are the suburbs of San Francisco, Washington DC, and Chicago. For everyone else, Sarah Palin is a much needed breath of fresh air after months of an Obama smoke screen.

    September 4, 2008 01:53 am at 1:53 am |
  25. Dr.Taruna Agarwal

    Sorry David,
    I have always been a fan of yours as a fair minded person and speaks whats right...
    I wonder just because McCain called off his interview on Larry King because of what happened between Cambell Brown and Tucker, you guys have simpy closed your minds and decided to show wrong is right.

    Sarah Palin is far from a dignified America woman many would connect with, she has portrayed herself as a nasty , sarcastic person who could neither prove that she was fit for the job nor could she lay out the problems she saw this country facing and how she as team with McCain would put up to solve those problems..

    I dont think most woman will like to be seen as one of her least not me.

    September 4, 2008 01:54 am at 1:54 am |
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