Obama Selects Biden as Vice Presidential Nominee


(APN) ATLANTA — Presumptive Democratic Presidential Nominee, US Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) announced Saturday morning, August 23, 2008, via e-mail and text message that he had selected US Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) will be his Vice Presidential running mate.

Biden is the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and is well acquainted with issues of national defense and foreign policy. Obama, who also serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has received criticism that he has too little experience with these issues.

Biden, who dropped out of the 2008 Democratic Presidential Primary race after the Iowa caucuses, made a joint appearance with Obama Saturday in Springfield, Illinois, where Obama launched his presidential campaign in February 2007.

Obama introduced Biden to the thousands in attendance, calling him “a man with a distinguished record, a man with fundamental decency” and praised him for being “one of the finest public servants of our time.”

“He’s an expert on foreign policy whose heart and values are firmly rooted in the middle class,” Obama said. “He’s stared down dictators and spoken up for firefighters and cops. He is uniquely suited to be my partner as we work to put our country back on track.”

Obama noted Biden’s ability to take tough stands on international issues sets him apart from many of his colleagues.

“Joe Biden is what so many others pretend to be: a statesman with sound judgment who doesn’t have to hide behind bluster to keep America strong. Joe Biden won’t just make a good Vice President, Joe Biden will make a great Vice President.”

Obama passed up several high-profiled, qualified candidates including US Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN), Virginia Governor Tim Kaine (D), and 2008 Primary campaign rival, US Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY).

Several media pundits argued that adding Clinton to the Obama ticket could help assuage Clinton supporters who might be hesitant to support Obama after a bitter primary season. Also, as previously reported by Atlanta Progressive News, Clinton performed well in many crucial states in the Electoral College map for a Democratic nominee in the General Election.

A recent poll by NBC and Wall Street Journal is showing Clinton performing better than Obama in hypothetical match-ups against Republican nominee, US Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

On average, recent polls are showing Obama with a two or three point lead on McCain, within the polls’ margins of error.

Clinton released a statement Saturday praising Biden.

“In naming my colleague and friend Sen. Joe Biden to be the vice presidential nominee, Sen. Obama has continued in the best traditions for the vice presidency by selecting an exceptionally strong, experienced leader and devoted public servant,” Clinton said. “Sen. Biden will be a purposeful and dynamic vice president who will help Sen. Obama both win the presidency and govern this great country.”

She and President Bill Clinton will both address the Democratic National Convention in Denver next week. Clinton delegates will get to cast their votes during a roll call as well.

Biden said Saturday he is “honored to join Barack and [his wife] Michelle on this journey.”

“I’m here for everyone I grew up with in Scranton, Pennsylvania, who’s been forgotten and everyone in Wilmington,” Biden said. “I’m here for… the folks whose lives are the measure of whether the American dream endures.”

Biden lavished praise on Obama as well, noting how impressed he has been with Obama’s ability to work with others in the Senate to achieve important solutions to tough problems in such a short time.

“Barack has the vision. He also has the courage to make this [country] a better place,” Biden said. “This man is a clear-eyed pragmatist who will get the job done…There’s something about Barack Obama that allows him to bring people together like no one I’ve worked with or seen.”

Biden, 65, is a Roman Catholic, born into a working class family in Scranton. Obama said Biden’s hardscrabble upbringing helped shape his values.

“His family didn’t have much money,” Obama said. “Joe Sr. worked many jobs from cleaning boilers to selling cars, sometimes moving in with in-laws or working weekends to make ends meet. But he raised his family with a strong commitment to work and family, to the Catholic faith, and to the belief that you can make it in America if you try. Those are the core values that Joe Biden has carried with him to this day.”

Biden is pro-choice, despite his religious background, and still has close ties to his blue-collar roots in Pennsylvania. Numerous media pundits speculated Saturday that Biden could help Obama win some Catholics, who are swing voters, in addition to winning blue collar votes in swing states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan.

Unlike Obama, who was in the Illinois legislature at the time, Biden supported the Congressional resolution authorizing the US Invasion of Iraq in 2002. More recently, he has been hawkish on Iran in the Democratic debates. Biden also supported the recent bill making it more difficult to file bankruptcy, in part because Biden’s state, Delaware, has strong ties to the banking industry.

Biden won his Senate seat in 1972 at age 29 but tragedy marred that triumph. Biden’s first wife and daughter were killed and his sons badly injured in a car crash shortly after his election.

He faced more hardship 15 years later when he was forced to leave the 1988 Presidential campaign after he was caught stealing lines from a speech written by British Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock. According to Media Matters, however, Biden had previously credited Kinnock but stopped doing so after a certain point.

Afterward, Biden had to undergo emergency surgery to repair a brain aneurism.

Biden has also become known for verbal gaffes that have sometimes gotten him in trouble. Biden had to apologize to Obama last year for calling him “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.”

Biden also said Obama did not have the experience necessary to be president during an August 2007 debate. McCain’s campaign immediately released an ad highlighting the latter remark.

“There has been no harsher critic of Barack Obama’s lack of experience than Joe Biden,” Ben Porritt, spokesman for the McCain campaign, said Saturday. “Biden has 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.”

Between Presidential runs, Biden briefly served as Chairman of the US Senate Judiciary Committee and presided over two controversial US Supreme Court nomination hearings.

The first time was when the Senate considered and defeated Robert Bork, a nominee of President Ronald Reagan. The second was when the Senate confirmed Clarence Thomas, President George H.W. Bush’s nominee, despite allegations of sexual harassment from Anita Hill.

Obama noted some of Biden’s other domestic accomplishments, such as his support for fighting crime, helping firefighters and police officers, working to secure equal pay for women, and raising the federal minimum wage.

“After decades of steady work across the aisle, I know he’ll be able to help me turn the page on the ugly partisanship in Washington so we can bring Democrats and Republicans together to pass an agenda that works for the American people. I know that Joe Biden will give us some real, straight talk.”

Biden took aim at McCain Saturday, slipping into an attack role that will be his main responsibility in the coming months. Despite his long friendship with McCain, Biden expressed his disappointment that McCain “gave in to the right wing of his party.”

“You can’t change America when you know your first four years as President will look exactly like the last eight years of George W. Bush’s Presidency,” Biden said.

He criticized McCain’s support of President Bush’s Iraq strategy, plan to privatize Social Security, and call for more oil drilling.

“We don’t have to have four more years of George W. Bush and John McCain,” Biden said. “Barack Obama and I believe with every fiber of our being – that our families, our communities, as Americans – there’s not a single, solitary challenge we cannot face if we level with the American people.”

After appearing together Saturday, Obama and Biden split ways to prepare for next week’s nominating Convention. Obama will tour some battleground states before heading to Denver. Biden returned home to Wilmington, Delaware.

Biden will accept the Vice Presidential nomination on August 27, 2008, at The Pepsi Center. Obama will accept the presidential nomination on August 28 at Invesco Field before a projected crowd of 75,000.

McCain is expected to name his Vice Presidential pick on August 29 in Dayton, Ohio.

About the author:

Jonathan Springston is a Senior Staff Writer for The Atlanta Progressive News and may be reached at jonathan@atlantaprogressivenews.com

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