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Published: Saturday, 8/23/2008

Obama chooses Biden as running mate

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware has been chosen as Sen. Barack Obama s running mate. Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware has been chosen as Sen. Barack Obama s running mate.
CHARLES DHARAPAK / AP Enlarge

WASHINGTON Sen. Barack Obama has chosen Delaware Sen. Joe Biden to be his vice-presidential running mate, national news organizations reported early Saturday.

The Associated Press, The New York Times, CNN and Fox News Channel reported that Obama selected Senator Biden late Friday night, balancing his ticket with an older congressional veteran well-versed in foreign and defense issues.to be his vice presidential running mate.

Biden, 65, who has twice sought the White House, is a Catholic with 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 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.

A Democratic official who spoke to the Associated Press did so on condition of anonymity, preferring not to pre-empt a text-message announcement the Obama campaign promised for Saturday morning.

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

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 former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton who was Obama's closest rival for the presidential nomination said they believed she also was out of contention. They added the Obama campaign had never requested financial or other records from her.

Despite passing over Clinton, Obama has gone to great lengths to gain the confidence of her primary voters, agreeing to allow her name to be placed in nomination and permitting a roll call vote.

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 is rated relatively poorly in the polls compared with Republican Sen. John McCain.

A native of Scranton, Pa., he also 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 1973.

Biden 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."

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.

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.



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