Chamber of Commerce President: Debating Palin Will Be a Challenge for Biden

Thomas Donahue says he likes what he's seen of Palin.

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ST. PAUL—"Huh?"

Like so many other Americans, that was the first reaction of U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue to the choice of Sarah Palin as the Republican vice presidential candidate.

Donohue didn't know much about the Alaska governor, but he immediately started looking into her background and record, and he liked what he learned. Understands business. Familiar with energy policy. A Washington outsider. Ran a municipal government. Rooted out corruption. Challenged the elite leaders of her state. Headed the Alaska National Guard. A good temperament for national office.

"She's charming and she's tough," Donohue told U.S. News in a roundtable discussion held in conjunction with the Republican National Convention. Regarding her willingness to take on established power, he added: "She looks to me like somebody who looked the gorilla in the eye and didn't blink."

The complications in her family—notably Palin's acknowledgement that her unmarried 17-year-old daughter Bristol is pregnant—actually proved that Palin has personal experiences common around the country. Bristol will keep the baby and marry the father, the governor said.

"It looks a lot like what happens in families all over the country," Donohue says.

The Chamber president adds that Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden will have a real challenge debating her. If he is seen to "patronize" her, many women will be offended, Donohue says.