August 23, 2008


Obama Picks Biden for Veep (LIZ SIDOTI and NEDRA PICKLER, 8/23/08, Associated Press)

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

Obama names 'gaffe-prone' Joe Biden as his running mate in presidential elections (Daily Mail, 23rd August 2008)
Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama has named Joe Biden as his running mate, despite the veteran politician once admitting that Obama was 'not yet ready for the presidency'.

Mr Biden, 65, is known for being talkative and is prone to making statements which get him in to trouble.

To get a sense of how little Mr. Biden brings to the ticket in terms of experience you have to check out this unintentionally hilarious bit, Joe Biden: Six Key Moments (MASSIMO CALABRES, 8/23/08, TIME)

It's hard to believe you could spend 36 years in Washington and achieve so little.

Meanwhile, though Joe Biden is obviously a disastrous pick, he's only the running mate and plenty of candidates have survived bad choices. What's important here is what the choice says about the Unicorn Rider: that he thinks such a lightweight is a heavyweight can't help but be troubling for an electorate that's already showing bountiful doubts about Mr. Obama.

A statesman known for slips of his tongue (EAMON JAVERS & JONATHAN MARTIN | 8/23/08, Politico)

[T]he likeliest attacks in Biden are all matters of public record, and often problems of his own making.

Biden, who dropped out of the 1988 Democratic primary after he was accused of lifting sections of his stump speech about his humble origins from British Labour party leader Neil Kinnock, more recently took heat in 2006, when he said, “You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent.”

This year, he managed to blow up his official announcement he was entering the race when he deemed Obama “the first mainstream African American [candidate] who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.”

Reporters and opposition researchers are already salivating at the verbal grenades yet to be launched.

More substantively, Biden supported the 2002 resolution that authorized the war in Iraq—a resolution that Obama opposed and, in the primaries at least, painted as “the most important foreign-policy decision in a generation.”

Biden was on the wrong side of that thinking, by Obama’s lights. In 2002, he said that America had “no choice but to eliminate” Saddam Hussein.

While preparing for his own run at the party’s nomination last year, he took several shots at Obama’s inexperience, warning that “If the Democrats think we’re going to be able to nominate someone who can win without that person being able to table unimpeachable credentials on national security and foreign policy, I think we’re making a tragic mistake.”

Obama Chooses Biden as Running Mate (ADAM NAGOURNEY and JEFF ZELENY, 8/24/08, NY Times)
The brief text message from the Obama campaign came about 3 a.m., less than three hours after word of the decision had begun leaking out. “Barack has chosen Senator Joe Biden to be our VP nominee. Watch the first Obama-Biden rally live at 3pm ET on Spread the word!”

His e-mail announcement began: “Friend — I have some important news that I want to make official. I’ve chosen Joe Biden to be my running mate.” [...]

Mr. Biden is Roman Catholic, giving him appeal to that important voting bloc, though he favors abortion rights. He was born in a working-class family in Scranton, Pa., a swing state where he remains well-known. Mr. Biden is up for re-election to the Senate this year and he would presumably run simultaneously for both seats.

Mr. Biden is known for being both talkative and prone to making the kind of statements that get him in trouble. In 2007, when he was competing for Mr. Obama for the presidential nomination, he declared that Mr. Obama was “not yet ready” for the presidency.

Biden Is Obama's Pick for VP: Six-Term Senator From Delaware Will Be Introduced Today in Illinois (Anne E. Kornblut, Michael D. Shear and Anita Kumar, 8/23/08, Washington Post)
Biden, 65, has served 36 years in the Senate and chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on which Obama also sits, and has been a longtime chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He also has shown on numerous occasions a difficulty in maintaining the kind of message discipline at which Obama has excelled.

Perhaps the most notable example of that came in January 2007, when Biden announced his second candidacy for president. Rather than spending the day boasting of his qualifications, Biden spent much of it extricating himself from remarks he made about Obama, having called him "the first mainstream African American [presidential candidate] who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy."

Halperin on Biden: The Pros and the Cons (Mark Halperin, 8/23/08, TIME)
Biden has been on the national stage so long that he was able to mount two credible runs for the presidency himself an amazing 20 years apart, in 1988 and 2008. He has served as chairman of both the Judiciary Committee and the Foreign Relations Committee, traveling the globe to meet world leaders and to be directly involved in almost every major international and domestic debate of the last two generations. He has excelled as both a speaker and a debater. His Irish-Catholic heritage makes him a demographic dream in appealing to swing voters. He is both a Washington insider and a hero to working-class Americans and labor union leaders, in part because of his rhetoric, but also because of his own middle class upbringing. He has mastered the art of the network Sunday show television appearance as well as the classic vice-presidential skill of savagely attacking his political opponents with both a smile and the use of casual, kitchen-table idioms.

Balanced against all of those unmatched qualifications is one quality that has afflicted Biden for as long as anyone can remember: a persistent tendency to say silly, offensive, and off-putting things.

Joe Biden is Obama's running mate: His abundant foreign policy experience is considered a boost to the Democratic ticket. (Stuart Silverstein and Johanna Neuman, 8/23/08, Los Angeles Times)
"I'm not a superstar," he said while stumping in Iowa. "People say they like me, people tell me they think I'd be a good president but that they just don't think I can win."

Rasky said the experience demonstrated Biden's tenaciousness as a campaigner. "We were dead and buried from day one," Rasky said. "He fought back beyond respectability, and the fact that he's here today in this position is testament to his mettle." [...]

At the same time, as a 36-year Senate veteran, Biden is a Washington insider, an image that is at odds with the theme of change Obama has promoted. Still, he is popular with many Democratic Party activists and may help Obama with less affluent voters who have been cool to him.

One issue that could prove problematic is that Biden supported the 2002 resolution in favor of military action in Iraq. Obama has made his opposition to the war a centerpiece of his campaign. [...]

While Biden is a skilled orator, he is often mocked for being verbose. His words have also come back to haunt him.

He created a stir early in the past year's Democratic presidential race when he told a reporter for the New York Observer that Obama was "the first mainstream African American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy." He apologized, saying, "I deeply regret any offense my remark . . . might have caused anyone."

Last year, referring to Indian immigrants, Biden said, "You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. It's a point. I'm not joking!"

And when he ran for president in 1988, Biden was accused of plagiarism when he did not credit Neil Kinnock, then leader of the British Labor Party, for much of his stump speech.

"The fact that he goes on for too long to explain his position or ask a question is, to me, irrelevant," Rasky said. "There's no evidence that his verbosity has ever done anything to affect his judgment when it comes to his public responsibilities."

Behind Obama's Bet on Biden (MASSIMO CALABRESI, 8/23/08, TIME)
Biden's gaffe made him an unlikely running mate, and much will be made of the bridge-building that Obama's choice represents. But in the end, Obama picked him for the simplest of reasons: The six-term Senator from Delaware is strongest in areas where the freshman from Illinois is weakest. Biden's tenure in the Senate, his foreign policy expertise, his religion, and his suburban middle-class background, all fill gaps in Obama's own presidential profile.

Biden Joins Campaign for the Presidency (E. J. DIONNE JR., 6/10/87, THE NEW YORK TIMES )
Mr. Biden, whose stature as a candidate rests in large part on his oratorical ability to move crowds, contrasted his own approach with the current style of national debate, which he labeled ''the great pantomime.''

''The standard of judgment is no longer results but the flickering image of seriousness, skillfully crafted to squeeze into 30 seconds on the nightly news,'' he said to cheers from a crowd of several hundred people at the city's train station. ''In this world, emotion has become suspect - the accepted style is smooth, antiseptic and passionless.''

Mr. Biden, only 44 years old, was elected to the Senate when he was 29. He reached the legally required age of 30 before being sworn in. Commutes Daily to Capital

His wife, Neilia, and their infant daughter were killed in an automobile accident 41 days after he was elected. After taking office, he refused to move to Washington and commuted daily from Wilmington to help bring up his sons, Joseph R. 3d and Robert Hunter, who survived the accident, In 1977, he married Jill Tracy Jacobs, who teaches emotionally disturbed teen-agers; they have a 6-year-old daughter, Ashley.

The Washington-to-Wilmington train run has since become a leitmotif of Mr. Biden's devotion to family, and those assembled on stage behind Mr. Biden today - 22 members of his extended family, including his parents and his campaign manager, his sister Valerie Biden Owens - further underscored his central theme of community.

Throughout the day, officials of the Biden campaign sought to explain why a candidate whose potential was well regarded by many professionals had yet to rise much above a 1 to 3 percent favorability level among Democrats in the polls, either nationally or in Iowa and New Hampshire, the scenes of the early Democratic tests. Early Campaign Approach

Biden, Once the Field's Hot Democrat, Is Being Overtaken by Cooler Rivals (Robin Toner, 8/31/87, NY Times)
''I know that you pick up the paper and it's 'Fading Meteor,' '' Mr. Biden said, referring to one recent description of his Presidential campaign. Then he ticked off a list of reasons why he thought the metaphor false, including the crowds he had drawn over the last few days. At the very least, he said, the turnouts proved his campaign's ability to organize. ''And just maybe,'' Mr. Biden said, ''they might like me.'' Overtaken by Cooler Rivals

These are frustrating days for Mr. Biden. With his oratorical passion and his high-powered staff, the 44-year-old senator from Delaware was initially considered the hot property of the Democratic field, the meteor in a sky of slow-moving planets. But since he began his campaign last spring, he has seen the race increasingly dominated by his cooler rivals: Gov. Michael S. Dukakis and Representative Richard A. Gephardt.

Some political professionals say the Biden campaign, for all its formidable financial resources and well-known staff, has been sputtering. He was significantly outpaced in some of the early polls in Iowa, although campaign aides say he has moved considerably in recent weeks. The candidate himself acknowledges a slow start to his organizing efforts. And some critics say his campaign seems unable to settle on a message, shifting from one transcendent theme to another.

''The track record of these pundits is 100 percent wrong,'' said Thomas E. Donilon, an advisor to Mr. Biden. Still, operatives in rival campaigns, publicly and privately, are dismissive. ''You'd have to give them a solid B-plus for fundraising, but in almost every other category I'd give them a C or less,'' said William Carrick, campaign manager for Mr. Gephardt. ''I don't spend any time thinking about him.''

Biden Brings Foreign Policy Heft, Risks to Obama Ticket
: Delaware Senator Offers Experience but Counters Obama's Change Message (RICK KLEIN, Aug. 23, 2008 , ABC News)
[T]he danger for Obama is that he now has a running mate that highlights perhaps his biggest weakness: Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., enjoys a wide polling advantage on questions of foreign policy and national security, and Biden's selection serves to accentuate those very issues.

And Biden could undercut Obama's core messages.

While Obama issues calls for new leadership and a change in direction, Biden has been in the Senate since Obama was in grade school.

While Obama represents a new face on the national stage, Biden -- after two failed presidential runs of his own -- is a well-known Washington hand.

Republicans will be able to point to statements from Biden himself that call into question Obama's ability to lead.

Biden has said repeatedly that the presidency requires experienced leadership. Referencing Obama, he said at one point that the presidency is "not something that lends itself to on-the-job training."

He sharply questioned Obama's opposition to Iraq war funding during the primaries.

Biden has also earned a well-known reputation for gaffes.

If the first rule of choosing a running mate is to do no harm, Biden is a risky choice: Democratic and Republican insiders are almost unanimous in expecting a handful of clankers from Biden this fall.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 23, 2008 6:46 AM
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