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. Paul Johnson

    I am listening to a replay of the speech as I write. I have been waiting for all those attacks on personal character and rudeness, that I've heard about.

    Don't hear it.

    I do hear biting criticism about qualifications, policies, ideology...
    (What, is Obama's resume off limits for criticism)?

    Lots of praise for McCain.

    Heartwarming stories... a bit too much of that.

    No, this is not a speech for suburbia, but it's not supposed to be.

    September 4, 2008 03:11 am at 3:11 am |
  2. ED

    Republicans have nobody to blame but themselves for the past 8 years, and a lot of people are suffering because of their lack of leadership( except the rich of course) but to attack people and be flat out rude about it was disgusting. Mccain and Palin are not even worth the dirt under Obama's shoes.

    September 4, 2008 03:11 am at 3:11 am |
  3. Anonymous

    More nasty attacks, and some very personal mocking, this won't resonate with female voters, only white trash from woods. Watch the republicans not even get a bounce, prob a loss in polls...

    Didn't even talk about issue #1,(economy) spent all their time attacking another American. Thats not gonna solve our problems

    -Someone should tell her that this is a presidential process, not one of the wolf hunting from an airplane expeditions she likes to go on.

    September 4, 2008 03:12 am at 3:12 am |
  4. Jen

    I'm a middle aged white woman that lives in a conservative suburb. I was astounded at how negative and mean this woman is and how she's served up her family on a platter. The last straw was turning the baby around to show the audience as if the little guy was a McCain sign! That really turned me off. If this plays well in small towns and cities, the true dumbing down of America will be complete. It was totally offensive.

    September 4, 2008 03:12 am at 3:12 am |
  5. Dennis

    Some very thoughtful comments (at least as of the time I posted this).

    I have heard nothing but a complete attempt to divide our country even further from this Republican convention. Yes, I expect each party to agressively confront each other over the issues, but the right-wing approach this convention has rapidly decended into is just more of the same old garbage.

    You will never convince me these two are going to fix the mess their party created, hell, they caved in to that group within the first 2 days of this charade.

    This country will fail in our lifetimes if this keeps up . . .WAKE UP!

    September 4, 2008 03:12 am at 3:12 am |
  6. Mike Madigan

    As a Ron Paul style liberterian, I would have to say a couple things.

    First, I like her family style and values, with not giving into a convienence abortion of a disabled child. Lets face it, most times abortions are about the (in)convienence of the mother.

    Secondly and more so, for her teenage daughter, she does not convince her to get an abortion. In other words she lives her values. She is like most families with struggles, hardships and constancy.

    Now for the Ron Paul part; though she may be pro life, her party and the values of McCain Bush are certainly not. No one could be truely pro-life if not committed to all life. Even the lifes of Iraqis who have been so utterly destroyed by this senseless war, her party has gotten us into.

    I agree with Ron Paul, we need to respect all life if we claim to be pro life, and being pro war is never pro life. For that reason, I would not vote for her or McCain.

    September 4, 2008 03:12 am at 3:12 am |
  7. Tamarra

    I think that many women will relate to her haveing to juggle a family and career. However, she and Mick Romney have plenty in common and maybe she would have made him a good vp. She lies out of both sides of her mouth. The Death Tax- lets get it straight that only the one percent of the population have to pay it. The jabs about McCain is the only one who served his country because he was a pow. Would McCain be the first one to say that torture is wrong. But no, they feel that crapping on people's rights is okay as long as they're not "American". Let's not forget that people aren't country first because they do not follow the republican way. Romney and his sucker punch at Michelle Obama. Should she be proud of Jim Crow, how about lynching? She was and is proud of what many people fought for and of what American could be.

    September 4, 2008 03:13 am at 3:13 am |
  8. RGP

    What a bunch of empty rhetoric to fire up extreme right wing Republican base! Palin is on the wrong side of issues and will be an absolute disaster on McCain's VP ticket. She is arrogant and wreckless. It is mind boggling that millions of good intentioned Americans are behind her nomination. Are they out of their mind? Can't believe so many people can be gullible and brainless after what we went through in the past 8 yrs. Bush+Cheney are single handedly responsible for the deaths of 4000+ young and brave US soldiers in Iraq. McCain+Palin will continue to same belligerent war rhetoric and alienate US from rest of the world even more. God save this country!

    September 4, 2008 03:13 am at 3:13 am |
  9. bonna

    The only thing she will appeal to is Mccain... oh yea, and the other simple minded rich jerks!!!!

    September 4, 2008 03:14 am at 3:14 am |
  10. Janan

    Cambpel Brown didn't treat Tucker Bounds unfairly. She asked a fair question. She shouldn't feel to appease theRepublican campaign. I felt that she kind of pounced on 'the shrill and sarcastic" prematurely. Keep your cool Campbell the World is Watching.

    September 4, 2008 03:14 am at 3:14 am |
  11. 911wille

    Sure you can dig up all this stuff on Sara Palin, but a saint like Joe Biden who has spent 30 years in the Senate has not a single transgression?

    And Biden’s disingenuous mantra about McCain voting with Bush 90% of the time. Anyone care to count up the number of times Joe Biden voted with George Bush? Seeing as how he voted the same as McCain on virtually every vote I can research, its running near 80%

    You can't even get a reasonable sampling on Obama’s US Senate votes because he has missed more votes than he has made in his 3 1/2 years and in spite of what the Democrat talking heads say, he has done nothing of consequence in the Senate.

    BTW since he has been Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Sub Committee on Afghanistan since 2007, do you know how many hearings has he held????? 0-Zilch, none, nada. And he wants to send two more Combat Brigades there? Based on what?

    Why don't you look at how he and Chicago’s Democratic Machine's man in the Illinois State Senate, Elim Jones, cooked the "Yes We Can” scam?

    I was a strong Hillary supporter and toyed with voting for a minor candidate after she left the race, but I have gotten comfortable with McCain and was impressed with Palin.

    Electing a neophyte like Obama would be as bad as or worse than when we elected the neophyte Bush 8 years ago... I can live with McCain for 4 years. Hillary will run again and McCain probably wont

    September 4, 2008 03:14 am at 3:14 am |
  12. high information voter

    I think Mr.Gergen is right on the money. I do not like most conservative pundits, but Mr.Gergen is always calm and objective in his analysis. I am a career woman and mother, and find Governor Palin's sarcastic and abrasive style very offensive. I was turned off to Hillary Clinton when she got too nasty in her remarks during the primaries and I am having a similar response to Palin, with one exception: Governor Palin is not as exceptional or accomplished as Clinton, which was why Clinton was considered in the first place.

    September 4, 2008 03:15 am at 3:15 am |
  13. Courtney

    Take it from a suburban mom – NO. A girlfriend and I were at dinner tonight and interested in what she'd say. What kind of representation she'd be.

    After I got home and heard her speak, I was completely turned off from her personally. I genuinely dislike everything that spewed from her mouth.

    Of course politically I already knew we were worlds away. It still would have been nice to have someone to root for in heart if not on ballot.

    I never thought it would have been possible for someone to make me sympathetic towards Hillary Clinton. Biden was actually my first choice, Obama my second. But Palin managed... I now have something resembling affection towards Hillary.

    September 4, 2008 03:15 am at 3:15 am |
  14. Kenaida

    More nasty attacks, and some very personal mocking, this won't resonate with female voters, only white trash from woods. Watch the republicans not even get a bounce, prob a loss in polls...

    Didn't even talk about issue #1,(economy) spent all their time attacking another American. Thats not gonna solve our problems

    -Someone should tell her that this is a presidential process, not one of the wolf hunting from an airplane expeditions she likes to go on.

    September 4, 2008 03:15 am at 3:15 am |
  15. thomas

    Mitt Romney and Rudy Guiliani were especially mean spirited and confrontational during Wednesday night's convention speeches. Both of the speeches contained vagaries, numerous inaccuracies, personal attacks, mudslinging and hateful references to liberals. Both speeches lacked substance and offered few specifics on the issues concerning voters. Mike Huckabee's speech lacked the spiteful sarcasm of those delivered by the other two failed republican contenders, but it came off as cheesey and mundane. All of the speeches including the one delivered by Sara Palin were harsh toned and critical, launching verbal attacks at the Media, Democrats, Barack Obama and his wife, Chicago, community organizers, and liberals, among others. If this campaign was ever about compromise and civility, it was not evident this night. Pavin made an especially tasteless joke during a biblical reference to Obama's phenomenal popularity.

    September 4, 2008 03:16 am at 3:16 am |
  16. Steve

    After watching Palin, Romney, and Rudy. I had to take a shower to wash off all of the negativity and arrogance I was just exposed to. I can't see how any independents could have been swayed by the RNC.

    September 4, 2008 03:16 am at 3:16 am |
  17. K Davis

    I guess tobiasjosias considers himself an expert on what women want and think, but, as a suburban woman, Sarah Palin's nasty- with-a-smile style doesn't appeal to me at all. Since John McCain seems to think he's so smart that he can run the country singlehandedly without consulting anyone but his friend, Joe Lieberman, I'll definitely be voting for Obama/Biden (the two men) in November.

    September 4, 2008 03:16 am at 3:16 am |
  18. workforalivingrepublican

    I loved how Sarah Palin came out and delivered a Knockout Blow to the Degenerate Liberal Party. Notice I didn't say Democrat Party since they died out years ago and were hijacked by left wing, pro baby killing, do nothing to help the poor, hate american, live off our working Republican neighbor, and godless Party of Lefty loons.



    September 4, 2008 03:16 am at 3:16 am |
  19. Jean

    I'm a suburban independent voter and Sarah Palin did not appeal to me. As many have already stated in their comments, the tone of the speech didn't sit well. I was really ready for her to provide details about her experience, fill in the glaring holes in her resume. I wasn't interested in hearing the typical insults/quips/one liners etc. I wanted her to get specific on her experience and qualifications, display some depth of knowledge on the issues. I didn't hear any of that, I'm afraid I'm not ever gonna hear it, and as a result, McCain/Palin aren't getting my vote.

    September 4, 2008 03:16 am at 3:16 am |
  20. Paul C Seattle

    Not much going on upstairs if you ask me, but hopefully you won't.

    I'll go with the Harvard grad over the Idaho State grad.

    September 4, 2008 03:17 am at 3:17 am |
  21. John, US Army Veteran

    I do not want a Hockey Mom at a National Leader. I want a public servant that is up to the job and does not tear down her opponents for person gain. Her speech was meant to do two things: Deflect her own baggage and fire up the hard core right of her party. She did that but the substance of the words have no long term vision or hold any weight to the problems we face. She had a chance to introduce us to a new voice inside the GOP but all I heard was Karl Rove's message repackaged.

    Too bad because I felt after day One the RNC did a good thing with being all about helping out in the Gulf Coast but they never miss a chance to go negative when the lights are turned on and they can abuse while they use the main stream media.

    Shameful but predictable too.

    September 4, 2008 03:17 am at 3:17 am |
  22. mernoush

    First of all thanks God that she can deliver a prepared speech quite well, but honestly this lady is really frightening. her speech, except the part about her life, was absolutely pointless and without any substance, rather it was one of the nastiest speeches I’ve ever heard from a person who is running for the highest office. What did she offer as real solutions for solving the problems that are mostly created by her own party? What about health care,tax,jobs,..? What kind of unity can she promote in this divided country by mocking members of the other party? What kind of respect does she have for her opponent who strongly defended her daughter from attacks and called her children “off-limit”?

    This lady hasn’t left any positive impression on me, the way she treated Obama was really inhumane .she has no character and I think she is just a divisive, low level political figure who is running for a high office which simply is not her place.

    I’m so surprised that some of the so called “best political team” on CNN were excited about the fact that she is a mother and she loves her children, and she has an Infant with DS!!! Come on, this is not something unique about her, everybody loves her children. Please talk about her experience and important issues that were missing completely in her speech.

    Obama/Biden= Hope, prosperity, unity, restoring American dream
    McCain/Palin= hatred, fear-mongering, disunity, low-level politics, more 4 year of Bush

    Please post it CNN

    September 4, 2008 03:17 am at 3:17 am |
  23. Paul

    Somewhere along the way, the media and political pundits got lost on the highway of stereotypes. Last I looked, suburbia is full of regular, hard working, honest, patriotic folks who are tired of big government and it's heavy-handed liberal policies. In fact, I suspect there are a few people in urban areas who feel the same way. It doesn't matter where you live but how you live. The liberal Democratic elite only exist as long as they can find someone to make dependent on their big-spending, no-hope, victim-perpetuating programs. I think Palin has demonstrated tonight and this past week that she is one of the top two people on a presidential ticket to lead this nation. I'm sure you can guess who I think the other one is. I'm half expecting the 2012 contest to be Palin vs. Hillary. How would that be for the history books?

    September 4, 2008 03:17 am at 3:17 am |
  24. alejandrina

    David: Your analysis impresses me as sound. But, just imagine...if Palin doesn't attract suburban America; can you phantom the disconnect between Palin and the rest of us women who are not hockey moms? I don't believe Palin is ready to lead; although she clearly thinks otherwise.

    September 4, 2008 03:18 am at 3:18 am |
  25. Ron DC

    The lip stick bulldog will not appeal to the progressive Northern Virgina suburbans for the most part as they are educated and hurting at the gas pump, grocery store and increased bills. N. Va is the prototype that she can not reach because as Obama mentioned today, they will go at one character and not the economic ISSUES.

    It is the ECONOMY Mrs. pitbull w/lip stick!

    Obama/Biden/America '08

    ps see you at the debates. Yup Yup!

    September 4, 2008 03:18 am at 3:18 am |
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