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. Richard

    You Libs.protesteth too much. Sounds to me like you are really worried and you should be. Sarah Palin is going to make a huge difference in the positive for the Republicans and I think deep down you know it. You would rather wait for your empty suit candidate to TAKE CARE OF YOU. I get a little confused when I listen to him. He's going to offer affordable health care to everyone, make sure everyone can have a college education, spend 150 billion on alternative energy sources and numerous other big spending projects. Along with this he says he's going to give 95% of us tax cuts. I'm trying to figure out how those 5% not getting his tax cuts are going to pay for all those promises. Taking what we spend on Iraq would cover about 3 months cost of his health care proposal. Of course anyone who can walk on water should be able to work out these problems.

    September 4, 2008 02:13 am at 2:13 am |
  2. Bob E.

    Snarky. That's what a bachelor's degree gets you in this day and age... She seemed to confuse "self-deprecating" with "self-demeaning" – i.e., the pit-bull with lipstick comment. Why would a pit-bull wear lipstick?

    September 4, 2008 02:13 am at 2:13 am |
  3. Roger from CA

    Why do I have a feeling that I already know about everything that Palin has actually concretely done in politics: that the few things she mentions about her background in her speeches are the extent of her accomplishments?

    If there is something else about her to sell the country as to her allegedly remarkable record of accomplishment as a "reformer", etc., etc., the GOP better start reeling it out NOW. Otherwise, pretty quickly everyone will impatiently be asking..... "umm, is there anything else to this marvelous record of yours?"

    September 4, 2008 02:13 am at 2:13 am |
  4. victor,nj


    September 4, 2008 02:14 am at 2:14 am |
  5. true indy true patriot

    Good Ol'CNN viewers...You can always count on them to tout the Democratic "War Room" Rhetoric. You people call her nasty but turn around and attack her in a"Nasty" way. She gave her stance on taxes and other issues...not all issues but some. It's not her job to do that right now. That is John McCain's job tomorrow night.

    I'm a real registered Independent and did she register? You bet she did. Much more than Obama's speech of generalization laced with hidden cost , heavy taxation and punishment for financial success. The guy is a wolf in sheeps clothing.

    September 4, 2008 02:14 am at 2:14 am |
  6. Monique Nguyen

    Actually I'm glad to listen to Mrs Palin's speech tonite. Because it helps me to see who she really is and what she stands for. In this new world of advanced techonoly, people are getting smarter and more intellectual. Americans these days, after 8 years of disappointment , look at things in a very different way. More realistic I should say ? I voted for Mr Bush the last time, I won't allow myself to make that same mistake again. If Mrs Palin today, put down her pit-bull tactics and replace it with a plan of what she can do for Americans, may be she might get some credit for that . But a VP with that attitude ? no way Jose.

    September 4, 2008 02:14 am at 2:14 am |
  7. Vickie

    What a vile woman! I am in shock at how she can spew those lies with a straight face. That's all they got, hate and fear? Seriously, not one speaker at this ridiculous convention has mentioned any kind of plan to solve any of our country's problems. The GOP is mad at the media, really. They cannot even begin to feel the anger and rage I have at the MSM. They call this a great speech, there was nothing there but hatefilled BS in a speech she didn't write or basically have any input into that this woman read off a teleprompter. My God! Wake up people!

    September 4, 2008 02:14 am at 2:14 am |
  8. Anna

    she must not want my vote. I seriously thought about supporting her because I like to support women but it was hard to find any common ground other than the fact that she is female. Her speech was empty and full of attacks and I believe she should not be talking about experience when she has hardly been out of Alaska. Sorry Sara but most women dont compare themselves with pitbulls and if you compare yourself with a pitbull are you saying that you are technically a b.......

    September 4, 2008 02:15 am at 2:15 am |
  9. go away mongers- Ventura ca

    Hell no!

    September 4, 2008 02:15 am at 2:15 am |
  10. Hannah

    Power is not judge by how savagely you can rip apart your opponent using false or misleading claims. If anything, Palin came across as rude, insecure, and quite arrogant. She will not resonate with any woman I know.

    September 4, 2008 02:15 am at 2:15 am |
  11. Bill

    Typical Republican convention, lies and smear tactics.

    Pailin had days to prepare for her speech, wonder how many advisors she had to help her out.

    Regardless, The McCain / Palin ticket is dead in the water.

    Nothing new this woman will deliver as McCain would not go for it anyways.

    September 4, 2008 02:15 am at 2:15 am |
  12. Patrick

    I'm a Democrat from San Francisco. Love Hillary Clinton and also find Govenor Palin to be refreshing. I like her. I was considering voting for Senator Obama (reluctantly) but now am reconsidering. This Democrat likes Palin!

    September 4, 2008 02:15 am at 2:15 am |
  13. STCharlotte

    I do not think Sarah Palin will appeal to independents and surburban women. She presented herself to be rude, divisive, arrogant, demeaning and sarcastic. Americans expect people in office to be stately. She didn't discuss the issues that Americans care about. What are their plans for the economy, jobs, energy, foreign policy etc? She really missed an opportunity to introduce herself to the American people.

    September 4, 2008 02:16 am at 2:16 am |
  14. Lynn

    I have been watching commentary by all 3 cable stations, and CNN rivals MSNBC in negative commentary on all things McCain and Palin. Many of you simply can not stand a strong woman who is not liberal. Gov. Palin is obviously warm, smart, funny, and as gifted a speech reader as Obama. WHY don't your reporters dig into the details of Obama's past instead of obsessing over Bristol Palin's pregnancy? I would rather have Gov. Palin answering the red phone at 3 AM instead of Obama-at least she has shown she has the guts to take action if necessary. I used to think you were fair, Mr. Gergen, but sadly, you have sacrificed your journalistic integrity to worship at the altar of Obama. I would say to your CNN team, especially Jack Cafferty, whose comments would get him fired if her were on FOX saying them about Obama–"At long last, sirs and ladies, have you no shame?"

    September 4, 2008 02:16 am at 2:16 am |

    just a bunch of hot air no policy. i wonder when are they going to start talking about the issues that are important and effecting us all baseless lies.after he made sure he respected her and her family and that's the thank's he will all comeback and her in the face. GOD BLESS BARACK AND HIS LOVELY FAMILY. I'M TAKING MY CHANCES WITH OBAMA/BIDEN IN "08"

    September 4, 2008 02:16 am at 2:16 am |
  16. BD

    I was hoping to learn more about her, since she only appeared on the scene less than a week ago. But instead all I learned was that she is capable of reading a speech written by someone else from a teleprompter. And that she has no problem being nasty, divisive, and arrogant... oh, and she also looks down on those of us who reach out to our fellow man through community work... but she is a God-fearing Christian?

    I am sick of her already.

    September 4, 2008 02:16 am at 2:16 am |
  17. sandey, georgia

    I thought the speech was fine in delivery at certain points. As a woman she did not appeal to me however. It could be because what I thought of her and how she came off on screen was absolutely different. I almost felt sad that she was a pawn and then I felt angry that it so far right and so ugly. I don't think they get that people don't respond to that kind of politics. The smile and the jab felt like a scary movie. Campbell Brown said that, it would appeal to women, I hope she wasn't trying to make up for the interview because there was nothing wrong with the question.

    Ultimately, I felt turned of by Sarah Palin. All I can say is Obama: stick to ur message and ur plan!

    September 4, 2008 02:16 am at 2:16 am |
  18. Mike, Raleigh NC

    It remains to be seen.

    The undercoating of this bitter sarcastic plastering of Barack is the underlying message of white supremacy. The base of hatred among the poorest white rural members of the us is the subtle indication that a person of color is "pulling one over on ya" is the 2nd greatest fear short of a arabic islamic terrorist invasion. Let's just be honest, we just saw the whitest convention in 40 years tear apart the black candidate in ways so disrectful in will demand a response.

    September 4, 2008 02:17 am at 2:17 am |
  19. Rob Nelson

    Proves she is a joke or joker

    September 4, 2008 02:17 am at 2:17 am |
  20. Neen

    I must admit I did not "identify" with Palin. I don't agree with most of her politics but I don't agree with a lot of my friends' politics either and they remain my friends -it's tough being a moderate democrat in Louisiana. But my impression, fair or unfair, of Palin is that, despite her avowal that she is "independent" and believes in less government, her agenda is to use her public office to impose her morality and religion on the rest of us., which usually involves government enforcement. This seems more common amongst repubs, although common enough in politicians in general. The tragedy is that I like and respect McCain and would not have otherwise feared that he would use his position to to impose his own personal value system on the rest of us. Palin's extremism is further contributing to what I see as the unfortunate transformation of McCain from the Maverick to the well-broke saddle horse, ready to accomodate whatever republican rhetoric his party wants to saddle him with.

    September 4, 2008 02:17 am at 2:17 am |
  21. JT

    Now that the Democratic bloggers have commented, I thought I would chime in. Does Sarah Palin appeal to rural America? I thnk she does. Love of country, hard work in good times and bad, and family are at the core of life in rural America. But those values are not limited to the less populated regions of the country. There are thousands of families in rural, suburban and urban America that can relate to a candidate who loves her country and her family, and is willing to work for those things which fulfill her dreams. As for the "shrill" attacks that were in her speech – excuse me – but isn't that what vice presidential candidates do in their acceptance speeches? I don't recall Sen. Joe Biden patting John McCain on the back, except to say he respects his service to the country. Repeatedly, both Barack Obama and Joe Biden have criticized McCain and his policies, and say he "just doesn't get it." All Palin did was point out that the Obama-Biden ticket may also not "get it" when it comes to the values some Americans feel strongly about. These kinds of "negative" comments happen in every campaign. Running on reform does not mean avoiding pointing out differences between candidates, any more than running on change does.

    September 4, 2008 02:17 am at 2:17 am |
  22. Rob Nelson

    Just waiting for the pictures

    September 4, 2008 02:17 am at 2:17 am |
  23. A sad former McCain devotee ...

    Well, that answers it ... this former Republican who had to turn Independent when Bush was elected a second time and who adored -truly adored – John McCain just 5 years ago is officially done. Unless the Republicans can come up with some specific answers for the problems that currently face us (instead of the personal attacks and "spin" showcased yet again tonight in Palin's speech) or the Obama campaign just completely blows it, I'll be voting for the Democrats this year. I cannot believe how much I despise my former political party. By the way, I'm a suburban mom from a small hunting/backwoods town – Palin has no appeal for me.

    September 4, 2008 02:18 am at 2:18 am |
  24. Susan from VA

    I am a 53 year old, married 32 years, southern, white female – the demographic John McCain seems to be salivating over and I am terrified. Terrrified of the judgement of the man who would choose a person of such low caliber as a running mate. Does he think that putting Karl Rove/Dick Cheney in a dress is going to fool people? It is an insult to the women of America. How any mother could put her own political future ahead of her family – exposing her daughter to the ridicule of the country and trotting out the "boyfriend" to sit on the front row with Cindy McCain – is beyond my comprehension.

    September 4, 2008 02:18 am at 2:18 am |
  25. EUNICE

    Mr. Gergen, Please call a spade a spade. I know all the CNN analysts are shocked and disappointed that finally someone is beating up their boy, Obama. Yes Sarah Palin beat Obama up real good tonight and you guys don't like that.

    Of Course YES, Sarah Palin will appeal to entire America. She has changed the game already and Republican party will win this election. You guys can talk her down as much as you want or try to diminish what she did tonight but we are not dumb. It is very obvious that she has punched lots of holes in Obama's sweet and empty talks.

    September 4, 2008 02:18 am at 2:18 am |
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