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. Bill Williams

    I hope suburban America can see the pathetic attacks by Republicans for what they are, distractions from the fact they have nothing to offer except more of their tired fear mongering, failed foreign and domestic policies, and continuation of our current miserable state of affairs. I have had eight years to much of them. It is time for a positive approach to our problems and our opportunities. I yearn for an intelligent President / Vice President with an energizing expansive, inclusive, respectfull approach. It has been said we get the government we deserve. Wake up America – we deserve better than we've had and better than McCain / Palin.

    September 4, 2008 02:56 am at 2:56 am |
  2. Michael O'Brien

    Well.., in rural America.., Montana. The real question is: Do I or (we) want four more years of the same ? I don't.

    September 4, 2008 02:56 am at 2:56 am |
  3. Fact Checker

    People often dislike most what they themselves inhibit. When you say she is combative, it's interesting to see the vitriol responses from the left.

    She will carry middle America, because Middle America isn't full of themselves unlike these leftist bloggers.

    September 4, 2008 02:56 am at 2:56 am |
  4. Tony Armijo

    In my opinion, this speech just served to guarantee victory in New Mexico for the OBAMA/Biden ticket. The McCAIN/PALIN ticket is nothing more than a far right conservative candidacy, this is not the way to win our state. All I sadly say is that this campaign is going to get personal and nasty.

    September 4, 2008 02:56 am at 2:56 am |
  5. jody fraser

    McCain is a lunatic which is evidenced by the entire charade performed tonight. These people bring out the worst in everyone. Demented, divisive, idiots who haven't got a clue. They are ugly, mean spirited, liars. They make me ashamed to be an American.

    September 4, 2008 02:57 am at 2:57 am |
  6. Rebecca

    Unless she can speak to the reasons Bush is the most unpopular and unsuccessful president in our history....and set out what she and McCain would do differently about the Iraq war, the economy, jobs, education....all of those issues that are important right now to most Americans, I don't think she will make much of a difference to McCains stale campaign. If the biggest problem most Americans faced were a lack of patriotism...well watching the convention would have solved all of the country's problems.

    September 4, 2008 02:57 am at 2:57 am |
  7. P

    I am shock of the disgraceful way Sara Palin dismiss Senator Obama as a community worker it seems he is below her and the Republicans for all the work he has done it means nothing at all
    I don’t have no problem with party attacking her other but have some dignity is this the way she introduce herself to the American public I am calling social service because it is just wrong the way she have her sick child parading around to impress people that is just wrong and someone should speak to her about it

    Please tell me what executive experiences do Senator McCain has also there are millions of American who went to War and suffer greatly worst than John McCain did does it mean all those thousand of Heroes don’t service Honor and Respect John is acting like he is the only one who has suffer in times of war

    September 4, 2008 02:57 am at 2:57 am |
  8. Kebba

    Sarah's speech was garbage! It had no substance or message on how to help American family going thru hard times. Everybody can stand in front of a crowd and tell them about their families, which is all I got from the speech. Having all those kids don't qualify her to be a VP. She needs to go back to Alaska hunting moose. Go Obama-Biden!

    September 4, 2008 02:57 am at 2:57 am |
  9. Kate Fergus

    Desperation has reared its head. The RNC is using the same old tactics it used in the past. You would think John McCain would have learned his lesson from the attacks he suffered under George Bush. This is a clear sign of desperation because they have nothing substantive to say.

    To compare Sarah Palin to Hillary Clinton is ludicrous. She is has neither the intellect nor the presidential demeanour that Hillary has. If the public falls for their rhetoric – God help America. The country can't afford 4 more years of divisiveness, which is clearly what Palin was all about tonight.

    September 4, 2008 02:58 am at 2:58 am |
  10. Kaylie


    September 4, 2008 02:58 am at 2:58 am |
  11. Monica

    Of course she will. She's not angry, bitter, or focused on killing babies. Women in all areas of the country are hungry for politicians that reflect their values and concerns. The right to abort your child is not the greatest concern for most women. I can't wait for the debates.

    September 4, 2008 02:58 am at 2:58 am |
  12. Jane P

    The republicans are trying to make Palin into a kind of instant sentimental icon–a kind of daughter-mamma of the Republican party.
    We can watch the convention gush over her, grateful and relieved that some of her personal qualities (an appearance of determination and strength) might transcend the negatives of the past few days and much that probably has yet to come out about her record.
    The danger for Democrats is that Palin becomes a kind of instant icon–although an empty one at that, and people take her as a kind of female George Bush–she's likeable on the surface, so don't worry
    about what she stands for. I don't believe suburban or educated women, rural or urban, are going to be so foolish. Here's a candidate who claims to be an advocate for special needs children and in her state cut all kinds of pre-kindergarten funding. The republicans are bamboozling, and women won't fall for it.

    September 4, 2008 02:58 am at 2:58 am |
  13. Janan

    The RNC convention is shaping up like anti-hope gathering of sorts. There's no joy in the faces of the attendees. Their speakers also so seem to have no qualms in lying about their opponents or lying to their listeners! I don't understand how this helps their campaign rhetoric of country first when they insult the intelligence of and doubt the patriatism of any who differs with unpopular vision for the country.

    September 4, 2008 02:59 am at 2:59 am |
  14. Kathy in Oregon

    Palin is GREAT!

    Obama is yesterday's news

    Palin is the new shining star.

    I bet the Dems can hardly stand it...:>)

    September 4, 2008 02:59 am at 2:59 am |
  15. Nicole

    did anyone get scared silly by the mob-incitement feel of that "political convention"?

    the republocrits may be in the ugly throes of losing, and I dearly hope to celebrate that, but their mentality, what they will stoop to, is very, very scary.

    and so shockingly, so tragically ironically non-christian. where is the love? Jesus did not say, "love thine own kind rabidly and despise those you don't understand."

    please, everyone, let god work in your heart and help us. this hate and fear-mongering is not what we need. those who claim to follow Christ, please listen to his words.

    September 4, 2008 03:00 am at 3:00 am |
  16. Republican all the way

    When are you sleeping democrats going to wake up and see that the person that is running to be your vice president, has more experience than the man that would take the highest elected position in America. Don't you see something a little wrong with that. The number 1 person on the ticket should be the one with the most experience. Duh.

    September 4, 2008 03:00 am at 3:00 am |
  17. alonzo

    And the Republican slate for President and Vice-President is Mr. Magoo and Daisy May from Dog Patch

    Is this America's best? I thought "W" gave us a belly full of corn pone and belligerent ignorance. No third helpings please!!!

    September 4, 2008 03:00 am at 3:00 am |
  18. jennifer king

    I think that conservatives will love Palin, leftist liberals will hate her. I am canadian and am just watching from the sidelines. Both political sides are so bias it becomes more a game of ego/party building than thoughtful ruminations about who or what is best for the country. Noticed the same thing when watching cnn commentators(except for wolf blitzer and anderson cooper) Mr Blitzer is like an island of calm in a storm of bias

    September 4, 2008 03:00 am at 3:00 am |
  19. Betty Vierra

    I'm a democrat and completely for Barack Obama but I enjoy conventions and politicals and I like John McCain, and I watched the Republican convention last night and this night. Last night was interesting: it was mostly a positive tribute to John McCain. This night was so negative in tone. Not just Sarah Palin's speech; other speechs, too, with the sneers about community organizers and teachers. It just reminded me of one of the changes so many of us want to see; more civility and getting away from the mean-spiritedness of the last eight years. I don't know if how Sarah Palin came across is based on her natural style or the result of the speech she was given to deliver. I think moderate people, whether they live in rural areas, or in suburbs, want to hear about solutions to our problems and to feel more optimistic about our chances. We have every reason to be optimistic, and Barack Obama would make a fine president.

    September 4, 2008 03:00 am at 3:00 am |
  20. Mervyn

    A Golden Globe performance but too naive to endure, much like Geena Davis in the 2005 TV series, "Commander in Chief," where she had to "fill in" after the death of her President. Life imitating art?

    September 4, 2008 03:01 am at 3:01 am |
  21. DJ

    I was sickened by the speeches tonight that were so smug and hateful and sarcastic and full of lies. Palin sounded like she was running for head cheer leader against a dispised rival, flirting with the audience and stabbing her opponent–all with a smile. The whole RNC has reminded me of a bunch of high school kids on game night riled up to whoop their opponents–maybe that's what was intended. But when are we going to grow up as a nation and talk seriously about issues? I think Palin lost both small towns and suburbia, at least the ones who really care about their country and solving serious problems, the ones who are tired of the same hateful, smug divisiveness that characterized the Bush administration. Palin is Karl Rove in a beehive.

    September 4, 2008 03:02 am at 3:02 am |
  22. kelly

    Thank you! Palin for going out there and proving to the American public how unqualified you are!!

    September 4, 2008 03:02 am at 3:02 am |
  23. DJ Wildcat

    As a black american conservative male from California, I think Gov. Palin gave an excellent speech. But I don't get the sense that she will appeal to non-white americans. In fact, the RNC doesn't seem to reach out to non-white americans very much at all. In almost every camera shot you see a predominately white audience at the convention. Where are all the minorities at? Why is our convention not as diverse looking as the DNC Convention? Second, why is it that most of the speakers on stage are mostly all white? As a black conservative, I agree with almost all of our party's platform and I'm voting for McCain for national defense, but I have always had a problem with the republican party not reaching out to blacks and other minorities enough. At first glance on tv, it almost looks like an all white convention, unlike the DNC convention. Substance is important, but image is everything! This is why most black americans vote democrat even though our values are really conservative at heart. Conflicting isn't it?

    September 4, 2008 03:02 am at 3:02 am |
  24. Marcia

    Based on this performance, I think the appeal is very limited. She was carefully scripted for this one and if she approaches a policy debate with the same style - sniping sarcasm and mean-spirited attacks - she's going to self-destruct.

    September 4, 2008 03:02 am at 3:02 am |
  25. Immigrant

    I am amazed that Republicans could not find a more educated, dignified person in whole of America, who could speak substantively on issues that concern the country like Islamic terrorism, budget deficit and economy. God save us from her and John. After hearing her, I am voting for sen. Obama. At least, he is a gentleman and a scholar. I prefer that to a pit bull,even with a lipstick.

    September 4, 2008 03:04 am at 3:04 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47