Tina Fey may be the most popular woman playing Sarah Palin these days. But she's not the most influential. That honor goes to Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, who has been tapped by Democratic vice-presidential nominee Joe Biden to stand in for Palin as he prepares for Thursday night's debate. Granholm is the first female to win her state's highest office; she was first elected in 2002, after serving four years as the state's first female attorney general.
Biden, Granholm and a handful of top campaign aides have spent the first half of this week at the WilmingtonSheraton Suites getting ready to rumble. One adviser in the room, who did not want to be named discussing campaign strategy, describes the prep sessions as more conversational than a formal mock debate might be. The group is focused on countering Palin's "prepared one-liner and quick jab" style. The campaign chose Granholm, this source says, "because she's a stellar debater who crushed Amway heir Dick Devos in her own debates in 2006 and herself had run in 2002 as an outsider and reformer."
Several days into her stint as Palin surrogate, Granholm spoke with NEWSWEEK's Sarah Kliff about the Alaska governor, what she and the politician she's playing have in common--and why debating a woman is different from debating a man. Excerpts:
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