Obama chooses Biden as his VP

United States Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has chosen veteran Delaware Sen. Joseph Biden, a leading voice on international affairs, as his vice-presidential running mate, US media reported on Saturday.

There was no official confirmation of the reports from the Obama camp but, breaking days of suspense, the candidate was expected to unveil his decision through an SMS and email to supporters on Saturday morning.

CNN, citing several unnamed sources in the Democratic Party, said the pick was Biden, the 65-year-old chairperson of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Other US media reported Obama had settled on Biden.

Biden, a Roman Catholic originally from the battleground state of Pennsylvania, would bring not only foreign policy expertise to the ticket but strong working-class roots.

That could help Obama connect with the blue-collar voters he has failed to attract in the run-up to the November 4 election against Republican John McCain. Obama and McCain are neck and neck in opinion polls.

Obama (47) a first-term Illinois Senator, has been criticised by McCain as lacking in foreign policy seasoning.

The choice of Biden, who has served in the Senate since 1972, indicated Obama had put more emphasis on filling that gap in the ticket than on finding someone who would reinforce his message of bringing change to Washington.

The Delaware senator emerged as a strong possibility after three other contenders—Indiana Senator Evan Bayh, Virginia Governor Tim Kaine and New York Senator Hillary Clinton—reportedly were told they had not been selected.

Others in the mix had included Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and Texas Representative Chet Edwards.

Heading for Denver
Without naming his number two, Obama said this week he had chosen someone who would be able to help him govern and who would offer him independent advice.

The choice of a running mate can reflect on a candidate’s judgement and offer hints of the qualities valued in a crucial adviser, although history has shown it is unlikely to have a major impact on the election between Obama and McCain.

McCain has yet to name a running mate.

Not long after Biden surfaced as the likely Democratic number two, Republicans signalled their intent to use as ammunition some statements he made about Obama during the Democratic primary election process.

“There has been no harsher critic of Barack Obama’s lack of experience than Joe Biden,” McCain spokesperson Ben Porritt said in a statement.

“Biden has denounced Barack Obama’s poor foreign policy judgement and has strongly argued in his own words what Americans are quickly realising—that Barack Obama is not ready to be president.”

Stretching out the suspense for maximum political impact, Obama and a very small circle of advisers he told of the decision kept it tightly under wraps all week.

A few hours after the Obama campaign sends out its formal announcement, a big splash is planned when the Democrat will appear with his new running mate at the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois. The venue is where Obama launched his White House bid last year.

They will then go to the Democratic Party convention that opens on Monday in Denver. On Thursday, Obama will formally accept his party’s nomination as its presidential candidate, making history as the first black American to do so.

Biden, the son of a car salesman, is less well off than some of his Senate colleagues and commutes to Washington from his home 130km away in Delaware.

Biden, who has acknowledged a tendency to talk too much, has been prone to verbal gaffes.

Early in his own failed presidential campaign, Biden apologised after calling Obama “articulate and bright and clean” in an interview with the New York Observer—words perceived by critics as patronising and suggesting Biden was surprised that a black candidate could have those qualities. - Reuters



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