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. Steph

    She didn't have anything to offer the women of America. Despite all the talk about her special needs child, she didn't address the difficulty most families would face with healthcare in the same situation. What about support for pregnant teens? There is more to our lives than fighting wars. Obama laid out a plan of his vision for American and how he wants to accomplish it. I haven't heard any specifics from the Republicans – just attacks. And attacking someone for community outreach and organization comes across very elitist. That type of experience counts toward being able to rally the American people behind a cause. Did you notice that Obama's experience in the Illinois legislature was conveniently ignored as well? The McCain camp is using Palin to distract us from the real issues at hand – the economy, healthcare and the housing crisis.

    September 4, 2008 02:37 am at 2:37 am |
  2. Oleg

    Idiots like other idiots. She has shown herself.

    Obama/Biden 2008

    September 4, 2008 02:37 am at 2:37 am |
  3. NoShame

    I still don't know who Sara Palin is. All she really spoke about was Obama and McCain. She didn't really tell America who she is if you ask me.

    September 4, 2008 02:37 am at 2:37 am |
  4. Belle

    If you don't have a message than what do you do? Attack your opponent...That is what Karl Rove has done for eight years and Americans have drank it up... Tonight you see the real Republican party... A bunch of mean- spirted and dare say I Christians... Go figure...

    September 4, 2008 02:39 am at 2:39 am |
  5. Bob

    Well Palin sure will not appeal to anyone who has ever benifited from the community work that she mocked derisively. I doubt she will appeal to many folk suffering from this poor economy that she never addressed. She spoke of Pit Bulls with Lipstick and darn if she is not starting to look like one.

    September 4, 2008 02:39 am at 2:39 am |
  6. PFCWinters, WI ARNG

    All white but for one asian woman in that pic

    September 4, 2008 02:39 am at 2:39 am |
  7. Marnie

    Absolutely not!!!! We like our community organizers and rely on them heavily. Most join the PTA to help out their communities or do it for their kids, not for the bragging rights. She was way too harsh in her words about others and I was always taught that if you don't have anything nice to say about someone, don't say anything at all. Where are her manners. I also cannot believe she doesn't believe in sex education. I can attest to the need. I was 17, but married, when I had my child and learned about birth control from my friends, not my family. Times have changed folks, abstanance only creates the spread of STD's and increases abortion rates. Sarah Palin won't last long.

    September 4, 2008 02:39 am at 2:39 am |
  8. CCS

    Bush won the election not because of the GOP base, but because of those outside it that he brought in. He got people excited about voting for a guy "they'd love to sit and have a beer with."

    No one has gotten excited about Mccain. Palin's addition to the ticket adds excitement. One problem: the only people who are excited are super-PUMAs (who weren't voting for Obama anyway) and GOP-lifers (who also weren't voting for Obama anyway).

    Her staunch conservatism helps the base justify voting for McCain and her woman parts help the PUMAs justify dismissing Hillary's wishes.

    But in terms of reaching out to swing voters, she falls behind. They aren't excited about McCain. And unless they happen to be gun-toting, abstinence-educating, oil-drilling, power-abusing, ridiculously attractive former beauty queens, I don't think they can relate to her.

    She represents small towns. One Congressman tonight said the number of people that reside in Alaska is smaller than her Congressional District. I'm from Chicago, I definitely can't relate.

    September 4, 2008 02:40 am at 2:40 am |
  9. sartre

    This was her first introduction to America and what people wanted to know was if she would be ready to be president if something happens to McCain. Unfortunately, she did not address that concern at all. She did not display knowledge of domestic or foreign policy issues. She did not make nuanced, well informed arguments for or against but came across as a rabid attack dog. Most importantly she displayed a divisive attitude which tells me it will be four more years of bush presidency.
    This was huge strategic blunder by McCain campaign. This was Sarah's first and last opportunity to appeal to a nationwide audience and they wasted it in petty partisan attacks to appeal to a base which was already going to vote for them. This was their opportunity to pull in the independents and now its gone.

    September 4, 2008 02:40 am at 2:40 am |
  10. Michael

    The only thing she accomplished at the convention was the proof of how mush of a mess talker she is. seems to me the only thing she was worried about was herself and what the media has said about her, like the congress women and the other two on the show tonight said, she was only the governor for two months and also left a small town with debt when she was a mayor. i wonder what she has planned for america, she never mentioned that at the convention. and to talk about experience... i can only imagine what the economy would look like if the republicans win this election.

    September 4, 2008 02:41 am at 2:41 am |
  11. Tibor Lin

    Mr. GERGEN

    The bloggers which think that people vote on issues and that the
    GOP does not much to address them ignore two evident facts:

    1) Democrats neither address them seriously,

    2) A large majority of persons vote the candidate they like and perceive as trustable, or see in them a reflection of themselves,

    Obviously persons suffering an economic drawback, affected by
    the mortgage crisis etc. may be more interested in issues, but they
    are a minority.

    Therefore, the answer to your qustion is: YES,


    September 4, 2008 02:41 am at 2:41 am |
  12. Modern Man

    Wow, what a rude, insulting little speech that was. I thought Palin was supposed to draw a few independent women away. This is a perfect example of what I hate about social conservatives and the divisive policies of the Republican party. Many of her criticisms of Obama were outright lies and others were very misleading.

    From a tactical point of view, the only thing I can think is that her nomination was aimed at a few thousand evangelicals in Pennsylvania and Ohio who may not have voted.

    Palin definitely has a future in hate radio. It is going to be a crime if a fine man like Obama is taken down by such gutter tactics.

    September 4, 2008 02:41 am at 2:41 am |
  13. ERIC, MN

    I watched the speech and thought she came off very arrogant and sarcastic. I had not heard much about her until the last few days, so I was anxious to see what she was all about. I dont get how a person that nobody in the country knows, can go out there and attack anybody. Dont you usually have to get your own positives up before going negative. I think people are going to be asking who is she to attack Sen. Obama or Sen. Biden. I think she would have been better off just telling us about herself and her family. She should have tried to fill in the details about where she stands on the issues. Maybe Im wrong but, I think her speech came off very condesending and arrogant. I think the American people are going to find it kind of odd to have a complete unknown out there criticizing public figures. Finally, how can she talk about how great John McCain will be for this country when she only met him one time before this whole process started. This whole thing seems very strange to me.

    September 4, 2008 02:41 am at 2:41 am |
  14. Palin seems to have sharp teeth for Obama

    I thought her speech was scripted specially the sections that were supposed to address REAL ISSUES. She sounded like students reading from the scripts. The sections that she tried to attack Obama's credentials and personalities, She sounded very rude arrogant and dishonnest almost Bi..ting. TYPICAL BUSH REPUBLICAN attitude with lots of thruth distortion and lots of lies,....As a professional woman and a mother, I thought she was unappealing.

    September 4, 2008 02:42 am at 2:42 am |
  15. AJ

    Wow! The best team in politics really missed the call on this one! Sarah's speech was void of substance, but filled only petty zingers from someone who doesn't have been around enough to lob them. This just made her look mean and nasty. Not sure how this played out in the hall, but considering she is getting an 'F' on the Report Card by viewers, I'd be taking another look.

    September 4, 2008 02:42 am at 2:42 am |
  16. Dori in AZ


    Pitbulls are banned in some counties in this country because of their reputation as maulers, and the fear that even ones that are pets may become overly aggressive and kill other animals or children.

    This is one pitbull – with or without lipstick – that I'd be horrified to see running our country, and I wouldn't want her anywhere in the vicinity of my family.

    Palin proved one thing tonight: she can read a teleprompter, after practicing awhile, when the words have been scripted for her. Truth doesn't appear to matter to her. Neither does demeaning people that she doesn't even know....

    Yeah. Politics as usual for Palin and for the Republicans. I predict more people running from them than running to them.

    September 4, 2008 02:43 am at 2:43 am |
  17. Turnabout is fair play

    For the very reason that I expected nothing less from the Repugnicans, I did not and have not watched their Convention at ALL. I'd rather read the reactions of you bloggers because that is the real barometer of how their convention is going. As usual, from what I'm reading, the Rethugnicans are living right down to expectations. Don't worry about Palin, when she gets Joe Biden up her butt and some of the higher level Dems, she won't know which way to run because she won't have a scripted speech to help her then.

    September 4, 2008 02:43 am at 2:43 am |
  18. Michael Lederer

    I just want to see conservative Republicans express their strong admiration for all those teenaged girls in inner cities who have babies out of wedlock. Clearly they should be held up as role models, and their parents celebrated for having done as fine a job as Sarah Palin and her husband. How hypocritical can one get? Family values???

    September 4, 2008 02:44 am at 2:44 am |
  19. Anonymous

    Palin was sarcastic and caustic, a far cry from Obama. I am a woman, a single working independent mother and do not relate to her at all. It seems that she was on top of her game, and her game is attacking, criticizing and acting holier than thou. I did not hear one thing tonight that inspired me. Palin gave a speech. When Obama speaks, it's a conversation with the American people. As Obama said, it's not about him, "it's about us." I would never want this woman to be our vice-president or worse than that, president of our country. Would you?

    September 4, 2008 02:44 am at 2:44 am |
  20. mruzza

    We won't know how Sarah Palin rates with suburban and small town America until the election is over. That's because first the media will quickly weigh the early reactions of the newly euphoric republicans and of the rest of the (incredulous) population. Then, depending on what reactions make better copy, the media will give her a label which she'll embrace if it's favorable to her or fight to avoid an early and merciless burial. As Frank Rich noted in his article in the NY Times last Sunday, there's a serious disconnect between the media and reality.

    As an Obama supporter from the beginning of the race, I am a 64-year-old female who thinks that politicians such as Sen Obama don't come along very often in a century. So the likes of Barbara Palin can't sway me, but I would like to give her her due. I watched her nomination acceptance speech. Wow! She's a brilliant speaker; she exudes confidence and she is no slouch when it comes to getting a crowd in the center of her palm. She even reportedly has slain a few Alaskan-style goliaths.

    But positive as such accomplishments are, they can't make up for her serious deficiencies – her limited political experience and its slim if not inconsequential relevance to the world outside of Alaska, the rigid pro-life stance (why should this be an election issue!!!!!), her position on drilling even in sanctuary lands.

    I think that most Americans will respond to her purported spunk. But I think most will ask themselves "is this the person we want a heartbeat away from McCain?" And I think the answer from most - whether or not they're urbanites, sburbanites or small townees - will be a resounding "no."

    September 4, 2008 02:45 am at 2:45 am |
  21. keller

    Shouldn't Palin actually accomplish something, besides redirecting the "bridge to nowhere" funds into other projects and calling out "reform", before criticizing a guy who received 18 million votes as unqualified (Obama), nearly twice as many Americans (I know you love identity politics now) as McCain got?

    September 4, 2008 02:45 am at 2:45 am |
  22. Deborah from North Carolina

    Sarah Palin just had her last best day in this campaign. She may be able to deliver a rousing speech to an already sympathetic crowd, but let's see how she deals with a serious interview, continued media scrutiny, and the debates. I suspect she will not perform well there. Personally, I don't care about her credentials as much as I care about her myopic world view and the fact that she is still of child-bearing age and already has 5 kids - one with special needs and another about to pop out her own. If she were to wind up in charge of the show, I just shudder to think!

    September 4, 2008 02:46 am at 2:46 am |
  23. Soccermomhilarysupporter

    I'm all for strong women, believe me. But what Governor Pallen proved tonight was that she was not such a strong woman standing up for women's rights. She set us 100 steps backward as she stood for nothing but the same old tired Republican rhetoric. Shame on you, Sarah! Hilary you are not. You will NEVER get this soccer mom's vote!

    September 4, 2008 02:46 am at 2:46 am |
  24. hahaha

    drill drill drill thats a change?

    September 4, 2008 02:46 am at 2:46 am |
  25. JL- Hmmm.. i just dont know

    Well, America, thats Sarah Palin. What do you think?

    As for me, I waited eagerly for her to speak with all the hoopla surrounding this new face.

    But i really must say, I think, she lived "Down" to all the hype. She didnt inject anything new or substantial. I consider myself a down to earth american living day to day in failing economy. And all Sarah Palin could do is talk negetively about Sen. Obama and the democratic party. Nothing was said or laid out in terms of how they plan or suggest to recover from 8years of the failed polices that have been set forth. I was completely dissapointed.

    But then again, the speech was written and prepared by McCain/Bush writters. So, im not at all suprised that it was as dissapointing as it was.

    If i wasnt before, i'm definately conviced now that these two republibcans will do absolutely NOTHING to help out the american people.

    It will be a sad day in america and accross the world, if these two somehow manage to make it to the white house.

    I pray that, that just wont happen.

    God Help us ALL !!!

    September 4, 2008 02:46 am at 2:46 am |
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