Obama picks Joe Biden as VP

23rd August 2008, Comments 0 comments

In a cerebral and middle-of-the-road choice, the presumptive Democratic nominee picked a veteran senator known for his dependability and foreign policy experience.

Washington -- Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama chose veteran Delaware Senator Joe Biden as his pick for vice president, the campaign confirmed early Saturday in text messages sent to supporters.

The announcement ended weeks of speculation over which of a handful of likely politicians would get the nod. US media broke the story only about three hours before the official message was sent out, a sign of just how closely guarded Obama's campaign had managed to keep the secret.

Although Secret Service agents surround Biden’s house hours before the official statement was a dead giveaway.

The Obama-Biden Democratic ticket was to make its first public appearance at a Saturday afternoon rally in Springfield, Illinois, where Obama got his political start in the state house and launched his presidential bid last year.

Biden, 65, is a longtime senator from Delaware and chairman of the upper house's Foreign Relations Committee. He is an old hand at international relations who traveled to Georgia this month in the middle of the country's conflict with Russia, and will likely appeal to voters skeptical of Obama's foreign affairs credentials.

He is a Washington insider but has blue collar roots from the Scranton, Pennsylvania are.  

But Biden will come under fire for some comments made about Obama during his own brief presidential run this year. Biden questioned whether the 47-year-old Illinois senator was experienced enough, arguing the presidency was not "on-the job training."

"There has been no harsher critic of Barack Obama's lack of experience than Joe Biden," said Ben Porritt, a spokesman for Republican rival John McCain, in the campaign's first official reaction. The campaign is running ads showing Biden criticizing Obama. 

A Washington Post-ABC News poll taken early Saturday shows that three-quarters of voters would not change their votes one way or the other because of the Biden pick.

Regardless, in choosing Biden, Obama has taken some risks, observers say: the six-term senator does not reinforce Obama's message of 'change'.

The Democrats gather at their party convention in Denver, Colorado, beginning Monday to formally nominate Obama. Biden is slated to speak Wednesday night.

Speculation over who would be Obama's running mate had reached a feverish pitch Friday night. Broadcaster CNN even showed live shots of several of the likely candidates' homes in hopes of some sort of clue.

The focus now turns to McCain, who is expected to announce his own running mate on Friday, just days before the Republican Party convention begins on Sept. 1 in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Likely candidates for McCain include Mitt Romney, a former Massachusetts governor who came closest to stealing the party nomination from McCain; Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty; and former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge.


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