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. George

    Her appeal is to small minded America, not small town America. Just because people are from small towns doesn't mean that they left their brains in the Bushes (please excuse the play on words, but I couldn't resist). In the future, it will be interesting to see how she will preform without the predictable Republican speech writers and spin doctors. Some reporters said that she really went on the, I just found her offensive...and disappointing.

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

    Thanks but no thanks Gov. Palin. In a speech dominated by insults and bullying was an promise to parents of children with special needs that when she is Vice President we will have an advocate in Washington. As a life long educator and a parent of a 17 year old with special needs I would offer that she has a ways to go before she can brand herself an advocate. Given her sons age it would be unlikely she can appreciate how much change she and her family will face in the years to come. My own family has moved from a long time home and given up career opportunities to give our son the chance he deserves. Children with special needs don't understand sarcasm and need all the positive roll modeling they can get. I'd make a bet that if her son was 14 years old instead of an infant she wouldn't let him within a mile of such a negative social situation much less being a main contributor. Maybe the Republicans like the idea of a pit bull with lipstick but we in the business of advocating for children with special needs are looking for someone who knows the score.

    September 4, 2008 02:18 am at 2:18 am |
  3. jwr53

    I'm a Hillary supporter, and this choice of VP guaranteed my vote for Obama.

    Palin will appeal to voters who were going to vote for McCain anyway. Her speech tonight, as it revved up the GOP base, also revved up Obama's supporters–and those of us who are new to the Obama camp..

    I was really hoping McCain would have the courage to go with Ridge or Lieberman Palin is just a terrible choice.

    September 4, 2008 02:19 am at 2:19 am |
  4. isabell young

    She lost this Independent voter today. I, too, am a mom who is proud of an accomplished governor-mom. However, I felt sad for our nation after her hate-filled speech. I was listening for what she would do for our families but all she did was say sarcastic and caustic things. It made Americans look ugly all over the world. I simply cannot vote for her even though I really wanted to.

    September 4, 2008 02:19 am at 2:19 am |
  5. Miles

    While it is the job of the VP nominee to attack the opposition so the Presidential nominee can appear above the fray, the virulence of her attacks and lack of facts (okay, lies) seemed only to be used to draw attention away from HER lack of experience. I don't think America is ready for a female attack dog, and the attacks will seem disingenuous.

    September 4, 2008 02:19 am at 2:19 am |
  6. k

    All you people can say now is that she's a pitbul in lipstick??? That's original! You are so pissed, you can't stand it AND I LOVE IT!!! She messed all of you up!

    September 4, 2008 02:19 am at 2:19 am |
  7. Van, Alameda, Ca.

    From reading the many comments I feel our fellow Americans are not that dumb after all. People see through all the negative attacks, FAKE remarks, empty substance coming out from all speakers from the RNC. This will not help to rebuild our country which is in very bad shape. Admit that there is no win to any wars!!


    Obama / Biden 08

    September 4, 2008 02:19 am at 2:19 am |
  8. Anne

    Palin's speech was hateful. Her speechwriters had her mocking community organizers. She obviously doesn't realize or care that they organize to help people, as in Obama's case, intercity families who live in impoverished conditions. Helping the poor is the Christian way of life, something that she supposedly espouses to do (remember that's why she's going to Washington). I truly don't understand where all of the Republican hatred comes from. As someone who works with people everyday who truly can't provide for themselves because of mental or physical illnesses, I guess I don't have a problem with the government caring for its most vulnerable citizens. In case you're wondering, most people in the helping professions are Democrats.

    September 4, 2008 02:20 am at 2:20 am |
  9. Scott McKeag

    I really don't know about you, but I was tempted to punch my tv tonight as Palin destroyed the art of good speech giving. Even taking an independent look on just how to give a proper and sound speech, she destroyed the basics of how to keep eloquency. In a time where Americans are looking for a new era (post-partisan) of politics, Palin, Romney, Huckabee, and Giuliani (apparently the master in management..phhyeah right) all sought to take personal cheap shots to Senator Obama and his wife, not to mention Palin's insult/joke at the expense of community organziers all over the country (drawing a chorus of laughter from the crowd). The first full nights (day 1 really didn't count) of this convention, with one to go, have done nothing but stir up hatred of our own brothers and sisters..I just don't get it. Americans are looking for common sense and togetherness to tackle the issues facing us, and the Democrats gave this to us. Yes, the Democrats dished out some political shots..but no personal ones. The DNC had constant speakers going up to the stage, laying out the policies that Dems will bring with an Obama victory (many calling for, a lack of better words, "peaceful" work between parties)...the RNC hasn't even touched serious issues (more later). They've settled for giving the far-right fringe of their party joygasms by attacking and dividing the country...again. And again going after "Islamofascism" and repeating "9/11" to try and stir up won't work.

    Outside of the Conservative fringe, I honestly can't see who she [Palin] was trying to impress tonight (her speech reminded me of early high school–where the popular girl has a falling out with her best friend and tears her apart for laughs). Palin showed a complete lack of respect for "the opponent"–never once mentioning Barack Obama or Joe Biden by name. Didn't really give any salient points on key issues (Republicans still haven't brought up the economy..I really can't image that Americans will be duped into voting on fears again..right?). And the attacks..just disgusting. I mean, even for a partisan convention speech, that was over the line. She got very personal on some of those. I was really at a loss..I could really go on and on about this, but I need to digress in order to save my strength!

    Where's the Tylenol?..

    September 4, 2008 02:20 am at 2:20 am |
  10. P. Tharp

    I am not in rural America, but surely people who are, will not be gullible enough to fall for this trumped up, set up speech that any good presenter could be taught to give.
    Nothing has changed regarding the Republicans, except the need to change from them.

    September 4, 2008 02:20 am at 2:20 am |
  11. kw

    Paliin is a pitiful shame. Further, CNN is now Fox News. How disappointing.

    September 4, 2008 02:21 am at 2:21 am |
  12. Jon

    "Pit bull"? I can't wait for the VP debate to see Joe Biden chew her up and spit her out without breaking a sweat doing it. We'll see the "pit bull" turn into a poodle!

    September 4, 2008 02:22 am at 2:22 am |
  13. NJ Republican - suburban Morris County

    Listening to all the speeches tonight felt like listening to a used car salesman trying to sell me the same "Lemon" that he sold me four years ago, and trying to pitch the sale with the same lines.

    Guess what, I'm not buying this time, and from talking with my neighbors, their not buying either

    September 4, 2008 02:22 am at 2:22 am |
  14. Obama/Biden

    For people who said that Palin had more vote in her election as governer than Biden did as president, I want them to know that Biden was not on the barlot caucus past Iowa. You cannot take vote from one state and generalize the situation. I guess the same situation apply for that person when it come to his failed presidency bid as well. Biden is a long time experience senator with far more vote in all his reelection than that person who stated that comment and Palin combine. Biden is ready for the job when Palin is going to be an intern for the job.

    September 4, 2008 02:22 am at 2:22 am |
  15. Olga

    She was overboard nasty. The republicans were gleeful and it was kind of depressing.

    September 4, 2008 02:23 am at 2:23 am |
  16. David

    I was hoping to listen to a reformer. I was dissapointed and wanted to switch off the TV. I do not think she was herself.. reading that speech was awful.. the content divisive.

    September 4, 2008 02:23 am at 2:23 am |
  17. bob

    correction to the last sentence, mccain can't stay awake long enough to solve anything.

    September 4, 2008 02:23 am at 2:23 am |
  18. gigs


    this is really a sad day for our democracy – the palin speech was nothing but the angry and mean talking point goosesteps that you hear all day on talk radio – it is horrible that john mccain have let these people loose on america

    the speech – and the entire convention program – was nasty and mean – and added nothing to intelligent discourse- it is right there with karl rove calling joe biden a "blowhard doofus" – i dont see why small town america would fall for this horrible nasty propaganda any more than the rest of the country would.
    i am angry that the republicans are trying to bully and intimidate the media from asking very legitimate questions about palin – the reason it looks like a deluge is that there is alot of questionable things in her background and mccain sprung her on america – it is his incompetence that caused the media and blogsphere frenzy.
    joe klien was right to issue a warning to journalists – don't back down from asking and purusing the legitimate questions. the press was too intimidated in 2003 to ask questions about the wmd story and now we are stuck in iraq –
    david make sure your colleagues in the media do their job this time

    September 4, 2008 02:23 am at 2:23 am |
  19. Gena

    I am not angry and I will vote Dem. I was a Hillary girl and I will vote Dem. We need change. We all need to get over ourselves and our anger that Hillary didn't get the nomination and do what is right for the country. If we don't then we will have no one to blame but ourselves. Between Guiliani's apparent foray into stand-up comedy and Pallin's Obama-bashing, the RNC is looking more and more like a grade school playground. Is that really what American's want?

    September 4, 2008 02:23 am at 2:23 am |
  20. al chapman

    You have got to be kidding me. If the people of this country will be silly enough to go with a 72 year old man, an inexperienced small state governor that know one knows .........

    after 8 years of Bush says the country is totally lost in mind, heart and soul. We can't take another run of this mess.
    Wake up America!!

    September 4, 2008 02:23 am at 2:23 am |
  21. Jen

    What really stood out for me is the "divisive" rhetoric that this woman spewed. It made me long to listen to Obama's speech again that left all of us with such a sense of hope and encouragement. Heck it made me even want to go and hug my usually very abrasive next door neighbour that mostly barks at me when I say hi. Obama's speech left you with a sense of positiveness, "mrs Pitbull's" (quoting her words) speech left you drained and angry.

    September 4, 2008 02:23 am at 2:23 am |
  22. Please No

    Please watch this video of Sarah Palin asking a youth church congregation to pray so a natural gas pipeline will be built in Alaska. As she says at about 2:13 in the video "God's will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that gas line built".

    This is NOT the kind of person I want anywhere near the White House.

    September 4, 2008 02:23 am at 2:23 am |
  23. OR

    I resisted the urge to leave the room during Guiliani's speech, saying to myself, "no, I've at least got to hear her out; it's the fair thing to do." And at the end of her speech, I was at a loss to decide which was worse out of the two.
    It seemed as if the first half of her speech was solely about her life and her family's life, things that I consider relatively insignificant regarding whether she earns votes. To be frankly honest, I don't really care that her oldest is entering the military, that her youngest has down syndrome, and that her husband is a former AIP member and a snowmobile champ. I don't think any of that has anything to do with her VP job.
    And then the second half was just a long, tiresome and ardorous tirade against Obama, Biden, and other democrats. Half of the claims against them sounded twisted at best and downright false at worst.
    Yet I noticed that she didn't discuss in depth one issue, and how McCain or herself planned to tackle it. Not the economy. Not the war(s). Not health care. Not education. Nothing.
    They did seem to like trying to steal the "reform" and "change" banners from the Obama camp, though, touting themselves as the party who could really shake things up in the white house.
    Oh well. You know what they say; imitation's the sincerest form of flattery.

    September 4, 2008 02:24 am at 2:24 am |
  24. human

    Who is Sarah Palin? What is her experience?
    Mayor of a town of about 5,500 souls (back then) and a governor of 680,000 people state. Sure, it is the biggest state in size, but 680,000 residents? What experience is that?
    Her best expertise is in firing those she doesn't like. That makes her a "good" republican per Rowe's book.

    I think McCain is loosing it. Is Sarah the best VP he could find? There are more than 1000 better republican candidates for a VP.
    John, what have you been thinking? Now I have to switch to Obama! You ARE out of touch!!!

    September 4, 2008 02:24 am at 2:24 am |
  25. Latino

    Nice try from the republicans. It's hard to be disciplined when you have been nasty and mean spirited since the Clinton years. Millions of dollars spent to trash, smear and lie -all the hours listening to radio talking heads- become part of your system and will come out at the least expected times and places. Having the first dinner with the family you are courting -you want a good fist impression- is not the right time to let your darkest traits surface. Oops!!! I think most Americans got it tonight!!! Thank you, Karl Rove, you used to be brilliant!!! You are a great american...ha ha ha

    September 4, 2008 02:24 am at 2:24 am |
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