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. Hilary B

    I don't think she will, especially if she's just going to continue her tirade and not talk about real issues.

    September 4, 2008 03:50 am at 3:50 am |
  2. peakarach,des moines,IA


    HILLARY 12!

    September 4, 2008 03:51 am at 3:51 am |
  3. Emma Lee

    Well, here's what it is for me: I'm a Hillary supporter who has checked out McCain/Palin as much as any citizen can at this point. And you know, the media and the out of control Obama supporters online have decided for me: I feel safer with McCain. I don't feel safe with a wuss who can't and won't apologize to Geraldine Ferrarro. I don't think the economy is ailling enough to justify BHO's vast new spending spree, and I prefer Grandpa and the Barracuda's reform and cuts to increases in taxes. I don't support helping to bail out people who bought 10x more of a house than they could afford. And let me tell you something Gergen: tell KeithO and Mr. Middle Leg Thrill to just keep it up (& tell David Axelrod we know the campaign is behind the smearing of Palin). Tell them all I like MY OBAMA better. She's prettier and actually knows how to execute a job and make decisions fast. How long did that Georgia position take to finalize with the 350 advisors, by the way? Hehehe

    September 4, 2008 03:51 am at 3:51 am |
  4. michael

    Which suburbs do you live in? She will make a difference in all of the swing states and you will be in shock just like you were in 2004.

    Denial is an ugly shield of the truth!!

    September 4, 2008 03:51 am at 3:51 am |
  5. ciel

    Of course she will appeal to suburban america. I am from the suburbs and people here can relate to all that Sarah Palin went through raising kids, athletic background, working parents, etc. For the first time in my voting years, I am so enthusiastic about this particular election. I am glued to the TV set everytime Sarah Palin is speaking. The Democrats really have something to worry about this year. Obama made a mistake when he didn't choose Hilary and I am not a Hilary supporter.

    September 4, 2008 03:51 am at 3:51 am |
  6. peakarach,des moines,IA



    September 4, 2008 03:54 am at 3:54 am |
  7. tom

    just looking at a map of the united states of america. there"s a lot of small towns across this land. just think,,this could be a small town election this year

    September 4, 2008 03:54 am at 3:54 am |
  8. Dave

    I am not a fan of the Republicans. I generally vote Libertarian but I am leaning toward Nader this time because he is the closest thing to honest person running. Nonetheless, I think that the Republicans might have struck gold with Palin.

    I work with suburban middle-income families all the time as a high school coach. I think this speech will sell big time to moms who do not identify with political parties and in the past have been more or less uninterested in politics.

    She connected on so many levels with people on issues that don't typically get talked about in traditional political discourse. She has a special needs kid. She worked on the PTA. Her husband is a union guy. She hunts. She has a kid in the military. She is attractive, well-spoken, funny. This lady is like the perfect political Mrs. Frankenstein.

    Sure, the political die-hards (and people who make comments on might not care about special needs kids and hunting, but most voters don't study the history of the Russian-Georgian conflict or the details of health care policy. They go home to a kid with autism and could care less about drilling in ANWR.

    I don't agree with Sarah Palin on a lot of issues, but I think this was the most effective speech of either convention, with John Kerry and Hillary Clinton getting the silver and bronze respectively. I have a feeling we are going to see Mrs. Palin quite a bit. She is the next GOP rock star.

    September 4, 2008 03:55 am at 3:55 am |

    She won't if those suburban women watch and like the show "Housewives", they tend to be independent, open-minded and certainly more inclusive than Palin's views.

    September 4, 2008 03:55 am at 3:55 am |
  10. Christine from West Chester, PA

    Where is my comment? Please at least send me a copy to my email address. Thank you.

    September 4, 2008 03:55 am at 3:55 am |
  11. A. Ackerley

    Mrs. Palin, didnot refer to Sen. Obama as a person only as our opponent! She is supposed to be a person of moral value. Not evident! Angry woman. Is that what the country needs? She is not in agreement with universal healthcare. No sex ed in schools, {Teenagers will use self control} Lives on another planet? Find her arrogant and a know-it-all! Out of the mouth the heart speaketh!

    September 4, 2008 03:56 am at 3:56 am |
  12. Anonymous

    Palin can't control her daughter, she was running around screwing until she get pregnant now she want to be the VP of this country

    September 4, 2008 03:56 am at 3:56 am |
  13. marg61

    Sara Palin is what she appears to be so far. An extreme right wing christian who puts county first, family second. I am a mother of 2 and if I had 5 children one with DS, one pregnant, there is no way I would run for the 2nd highest office in America and it is not sexist saying so. Women do have more of a connection and role to these kinds of life situations lets not delude ourselves about that. Now, if her husband is willing to be a stay at home dad power to him? But bringing up a special needs child must entail enormous time, energy and love. This also goes to McCains judgement if he really did know of this pregnancy and knowing about the baby having DS, why did he pick her when there are other more qualified more experienced woman without these problems. He was not thinking of the Palins or of County First?? He is thinking of McCain first. Folks let's all imagine for a moment, what if the Obama's had a teenage daughter who got pregnant at 16 or 17? How do you think the right would react? There would be an uproar. They would say see, democrats don't prescribe to traditional values. This is most hypocritical. It's ok for republicans daughters to be pregnant at 17, but, it would be a scandal for a democrat or an independent. Also bothering me, is during the announcement of Bristol's pregnancy, the governor said "we are so proud that Bristol CHOSE to have the baby. ok? so did Palin let her daughter choose, which would be hypocritical, or is she being forced to have this baby?? Palins speech tonight was very nasty, sarcastic, and yes as harry reid said "shrill!" It is truly sad that Cambell Brown was offended by the word shrill? I wonder if the attack on the media by the republicans really did make the pundits nervous. It shouldn't, you have every right to report news. this is after all a free country with freedom of the press remember? I am hoping tonight McCain's speech will address the issue's?? So many people out here are hurting? And lastly, everyone seems to be addressing McCains health saying he had cancer twice. I read and maybe someone can confirm this that McCains father and Grandfather both died of sudden heart attacks at younger ages then McCain is now? has anyone else heard this because if true and he is elected that is pause for CONCERN?

    September 4, 2008 03:56 am at 3:56 am |
  14. gods-help-us

    what a horrid, empty person she is. i pray to the gods that we do not deserve her. and i agree with mistermister: i am sick of her already.

    no issues, no substance !

    September 4, 2008 03:57 am at 3:57 am |
  15. Lynne Graham

    I couldn't agree more, David. My husband and I listen to you. He (my husband) says, "If Gergen says it, I believe it." Thanks for being a cool unbiased head in a crazy world.

    September 4, 2008 03:58 am at 3:58 am |
  16. Steve Spears - Orrs Island, Maine

    I'm a basic 62 year old white american male. An Obama man myself.

    I think it would be wise to start at the beginning and say that politically she's a diamond in the rough. Mayor...then Governor of Alaska...a great start. Not very many skeletons in her closet, not a lot of baggage.

    Her primary disconnect, that has yet to be brought up, is that Alaskan's (for the most part), per capita, are really quite well off when compared with our lower forty-eight down here. They are not experiencing the same "widespread serious economic blows", in the same way we are. She'll have to do some touring in the lower forty-eight, and some learning, in order to get that part of it embedded into her system properly.

    So far, she's become Alaska political tough. The next thing she needs to face and experience, is Washington DC tough. As vice-president she'll have the time to be able get through that process before they get a chance to eat her alive over there.

    Ex-Navy I've worked for five outstanding captains. I give her an excellent leadership rating, as I do Senator Obama.

    For Senator or President McCain, and the nation, as a vice-president, and from a human/public relations standpoint, she'll be a big improvement over Mr Cheney for sure. a lot better...when it includes a little polite, civility, and diplomacy as well.

    Good luck in November Republicans.

    September 4, 2008 03:58 am at 3:58 am |
  17. JL

    I got a sick feeling as I watched the crowd's response to Palin's speech tonight. But, the C-Span viewers who called in afterward mostly criticized her speech as disappointing because it lacked substance.

    How ironic. Last night Lieberman went on and on about how important it is to rise above partisan politics. That's what would be best for our country, he said; that is putting country first. He repeated this theme over and over, and as he continued with his transparent plea, he simultaneously made personal digs at Obama. Apparently the crowd was unaware of the hypocrisy, and cheered wildly. Lieberman’s resolution of non-partisan politics was short lived. Tonight Sarah Palin continuously mocked and ridiculed Biden and Obama, including their public service, and twisted one fact after another, yet addressed few of the important issues facing our country. The venom that spewed out of her mouth was appalling. It was a mean spirited spectacle. I'm glad that Obama has not stooped to this level, and it's not because of lack of opportunities to do so. THAT is strength of character. THAT is being a leader; THAT is being a maverick, THAT is change, and makes Obama all the more appealing. I am a newcomer to the Obama camp. I admire the decency of this man and think he would help our country regain the respect it once had in this world.

    September 4, 2008 03:58 am at 3:58 am |
  18. Tom

    Sarah Palin had a terrific opportunity tonight–to introduce herself to us, to give us some idea in how her mind works, maybe even trot out some ideas for how she thinks the country should be. Instead, what we got was a whole series of zingers and cheap shots at Harry Reid, Obama, Biden, community organizers (!), poor folks, democrats, and even people who deign to live in big cities.

    I kept thinking–what is she so angry about? Why is she so sarcastic and biting? Why is she taking out the glare of the media spotlight out on me? At first, I had some sympathy–I wanted to hear her side of it. But when she baited the media, I said to myself, "She's gonna get it! They're going to dig and dig and dig until they find something really bad, and it will bury her."

    September 4, 2008 03:58 am at 3:58 am |
  19. Wesley

    Since she describes herself as a pitbull with lipstick I say the Democrats go bust Michael Vick out of jail and let him take care of her for them. This woman is disgusting, her attacks on Obama are appalling and her entire speech failed to talk about any of the issues.

    September 4, 2008 03:59 am at 3:59 am |

    I was very disappointed in Palin speech tonight. The only thing I got out of it was "she"s just like the good ole boys" Negative, mean spirited and disgraceful. ANother example of a woman letting a man use her for his own gain.

    September 4, 2008 04:00 am at 4:00 am |
  21. Tudlow

    Loud, angry, and mean. All talk, with nothing to back it up.

    If she was a man with that speech, about 20 jerks would vote for him, the rest would ignore him or wanna kick his butt.

    So, if you heard that speech and you wanna vote for her–

    –the first 20 of you are jerks, the rest are sexist pigs.

    September 4, 2008 04:01 am at 4:01 am |
  22. Foreign observer

    Republicans have no answers for the problems of the people. We could see that during the last 8 years and we can see that within the Palin speech. Having no solutions they just sell hate and divisivness. And sometimes they try to copy solutions from the democrates (wind and solar and clean coal ! – heard this already better way from Obama).

    September 4, 2008 04:04 am at 4:04 am |
  23. rob

    I thought Palin and the rest of the RNC tonight were going to off set Obama DNC message of Change... I have followed this election with a close eye, giving both sides a chance to catch my ear. I was excited that a "county girl" could be in charge. However, I found myself confused, and mad. There was no substance!!! Ok, I know Obama has not experienced, but I did not need four hours and several speakers to tell me that.. Furthermore, I do not want to hear a governor of a state of 200,000 people, just come on stage and think Alaska politics is the pulse of the nation... Sorry McCain and Palin, no were near.... wanted to hear Issues. I want Palin to define herself. If I want to hear Obama and Dem bashing I turn to Fox. At least obama and the rest of DNC told of there view and policies.. I do not agree with most of the Dems policies, but they attempted to explain them.. They seemed to tell a story of equal ground to all parties. Tonight, the message that if you are not the right, you are wrong, and lets blame the media and the left for our problems. Come on!!! I am the person who both side is fighting to get to vote for them... Tonight did not do it for me.. I am sorry, the RNC lost me when they started this change for america Idea, you can't say that if you personally believe everything is ok.... I am disappointed tonight, and I will be turning the TV off, and change my vote for Obama......

    September 4, 2008 04:05 am at 4:05 am |
  24. Why People Vote

    tobiasjosias, you named some very good issues that will definitely bring down the price of oil, certainly create stable jobs and help us compete in a global economy. NOT, if people vote for the reasons you listed, America is in a crisis.

    September 4, 2008 04:06 am at 4:06 am |
  25. Poor sour liberals

    As if saying McCain represents four more years of the previous administration isn't an age old political tactic? Seems like the same rhetoric that is used to unseat the incumbent party that along with empty promises of change. Obama = fluff. Palin is just calling him on it. The truth hurts, huh?

    September 4, 2008 04:06 am at 4:06 am |
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