Biden gets nod as Obama’s Veep choice

Barack Obama named Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware as his vice presidential running mate early Saturday, balancing his ticket with a seasoned congressional veteran well-versed in foreign policy and defense issues.

Obama announced the pick on his Web site with a photo of the two men and an appeal for donations. A text message went out shortly afterward that said, "Barack has chosen Senator Joe Biden to be our VP nominee."

Biden, 65, has twice sought the White House, and is a Catholic with blue-collar roots, a generally liberal voting record and a reputation as a long-winded orator.

Across more than 30 years in the Senate, he has served at various times not only as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee but also as head of the Judiciary Committee, with its jurisdiction over anti-crime legislation, Supreme Court nominees and Constitutional issues.

In selecting Biden, Obama passed over several other potential running mates, none more prominent than former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton, his tenacious rival in dozens of primaries and caucuses.

Obama’s campaign arranged a debut for the newly minted ticket on Saturday outside the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Ill.

Obama’s decision leaked to the media several hours before his aides planned to send a text message announcing the running mate, negating a promise that people who turned over their phone numbers would be the first to know who Obama had chosen. The campaign scrambled to send the text message after the leak, sending phones buzzing at the inconvenient time of just after 3 a.m. on the East coast.

Hundreds of miles to the west, carpenters, electricians, sound stage gurus and others transformed the Pepsi Center in Denver into a made-for-television convention venue.

Tucked away in one corner were thousands of lightweight rolled cardboard tubes, ready-made handles for signs bearing the names of the Democratic ticket — once the identity of Obama’s running mate was known.

While Obama decided against adding Clinton to his ticket, he has gone to great lengths to gain the confidence of her primary voters, agreeing to allow her name to be placed in nomination at the convention and permitting a roll call vote that threatens to expose lingering divisions within the party.

Biden slowly emerged as Obama’s choice across a long day and night of political suspense as other contenders gradually fell away.

First Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine let it be known that he had been ruled out. Then came word that Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana had also been passed over.

Several aides to Clinton said the Obama campaign had never requested financial or other records from her.

Other finalists in the veep sweepstakes were Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and Texas Rep. Chet Edwards.

Among those on the short list, Biden brought the most experience in defense or foreign policy — areas in which Obama fares relatively poorly in the polls compared with Republican Sen. John McCain.

While the war in Iraq has been supplanted as the campaign’s top issues by the economy in recent months, the recent Russian invasion of Georgia has returned foreign policy to the forefront.

In addition to foreign policy experience, Biden, a native of Scranton, Pa., has working-class roots that could benefit Obama, who lost the blue-collar vote to Clinton during their competition for the presidential nomination.

Biden was elected to the Senate at the age of 29 in 1972, but personal tragedy struck before he could take office. His wife and their 13-month-old daughter, Naomi, were killed when a tractor-trailer broad-sided her station wagon.

Biden took his oath of office for his first term at the hospital bedside of one of his sons.

On Friday, he spent the day at his home in Delaware with friends and family. The normally loquacious lawmaker maintained a low profile as associates said they believed — but did not know — he would be tapped. They added they had been asked to stand by in case their help was needed.

No sooner had word spread of his selection than McCain’s campaign unleashed its first attack. Spokesman Ben Porritt said in a statement that Biden had "denounced Barack Obama’s poor foreign policy judgment and has strongly argued in his own words what Americans are quickly realizing — that Barack Obama is not ready to be president."

As evidence, Republicans cited an ABC interview from August 2007, in which Biden said he would stand by an earlier statement that Obama was not ready to serve as president.

Biden is seeking a new Senate term in the fall. there was no immediate word whether he intended to change plans as he reaches for national office.

Michael Silberman, a partner at online communications firm EchoDitto, said the campaign gambled when they made such a high-stakes promise and find themselves in a precarious situation where they could risk a great deal of trust with supporters.

"For Obama supporters, this is like finding out from your neighbor instead of your sister that she’s engaged — not how you want or expect the news to be delivered," Silberman said.

Biden dropped out of the 2008 race for the Democratic presidential nomination after a poor finish in the Iowa caucuses, but not before he talked dismissively of joining someone else’s ticket.

"I am not running for vice president," he said in a Fox interview. "I would not accept it if anyone offered it to me. The fact of the matter is I’d rather stay as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee than be vice president."

He had stumbled on his first day in the race, apologizing for having described Obama as "clean." Months later, Obama spoke up on Biden’s defense, praising him during a campaign debate for having worked for racial equality.

It was Biden’s second try for the White House. The first ended badly in 1988 when he was caught lifting lines from a speech by British Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock.

In the decades since, he become a power in the Senate, presiding over confirmation proceedings for Supreme Court nominees as well as convening hearings to criticize President Bush’s handling of the Iraq War.

Biden voted to authorize the war, but long ago became one of the Senate’s surest critics of the conflict. Ironically, perhaps, his son, Beau, attorney general of Delaware, is due to spend a tour of duty in Iraq beginning this fall with his National Guard unit.

Obama worked to keep his choice secret, although he addressed the issue broadly during the day in an interview.

"Obviously, the most important question is: Is this person ready to be president?" Obama told "The Early Show" on CBS. Second, he said, was: "Can this person help me govern? Are they going to be an effective partner in creating the kind of economic opportunity here at home and guiding us through some dangerous waters internationally?"

And, he added: "I want somebody who is going to be able to challenge my thinking and not simply be a yes person when it comes to policymaking.

___

Associated Press writers David Espo in Denver, Angela K. Brown in Waco, Texas, Glen Johnson in Boston, Randall Chase in Greenville, Del., Bob Lewis in Richmond, Va., John Hanna in Topeka, Kan., Scott Lindlaw in San Francisco and Jesse Holland in Washington contributed to this report. Pickler reported from Chicago.

Comments

  1. RichardKanePA-2

    RichardKanePA-2

    I hate to start something but I still believe there is something called Truth Force and part of Truth Force is telling the truth as one see it.

    To me Biden’s acceptance speech was extremely hawky, and I am very disappointed, and fear McCain will claim Bidden and Obama have opposite positions of foreign policy and he will be at least 20% right, perhaps more.

    Sadly
    RichardKanePA
    RichardKanePA-2

    I can get into both boxes now, I hope not being able to post any more stories is a temporary accident.

  2. Ladywolf55

    Would that be true, Azariel, would that be true, I would jump on the Obama bandwagon in a heartbeat. But I just can’t see it happening, honestly. Sigh…………

  3. Azariel

    What a surreal night into morning that was. I was holding my breath all week -hoping against hope that Barack did not chose Clinton. I had watched Countdown and Keith was flipping back and forth between all the homes of the possible VP choices. Biden was a riot with his Cheshire grin and delivering bagels to the reporters and being off the cuff about the possibility of his being the one. “I’m not the guy,” he kept saying. He was all tongue in cheek.

    I was standing by the computer at about 10 something when the announcement came in that the Secret Service was on the way to Biden’s home. It was Biden!!!!!!!!! and I have to say-after holding my breath and crossing everything I had that it wasn’t Clinton-I went a little crazy-delirious, actually, doing a little soft shoe, etc. and stayed up a few hours to watch the take on the two of them together.

    I finally got to sleep about 2 A.M. and then the really strange stuff happened. I had a dream-very clear-easy to remember of Biden and Obama and they were laughing and talking together and then there was Joe with all that white hair, wizened and powerful in Revolutionary garb-a la WASHINGTON (Delaware) and Obama (born in the Islands-challenging McCain to a duel a short time ago -exotic?) as Hamilton…they both winked at me and Joe said, “Hey, want a bagel, baby?” and I woke up. I got up 4AM and started googling Barack and Hamilton and everything I googled came up with them together. WHAAAAAAAAAAT? There was even a site where an ALEXANDER HAMILTON was a major Obama supporter. Then there’s Joe and DELAWARE?

    Well, I must say-as someone who believes in reincarnation that I was rocked out of my socks. Could it be that the Founding Fathers are here with us-watching over us and taking back this country from the evil empire that had usurped it??? What a dream! Yeeeeeee hah! Let’s make it come true.

    “You get more with a kind word and a gun than with a kind word” – Al Capone