Tag Archives: Democratic Nominee

Obama Takes Aim at Bush and McCain With a Forceful Call to Change America

From The New York Times

DENVER — Barack Obama accepted the Democratic Party presidential nomination on Thursday, declaring that the “American promise has been threatened” by eight years under President Bush and that John McCain represented a continuation of policies that undermined the nation’s economy and imperiled its standing around the world.

The speech by Senator Obama, in front of an audience of nearly 80,000 people on a warm night in a football stadium refashioned into a vast political stage for television viewers, left little doubt how he intended to press his campaign against Mr. McCain this fall.

In cutting language, and to cheers that echoed across the stadium, he linked Mr. McCain to what he described as the “failed presidency of George W. Bush” and — reflecting what has been a central theme of his campaign since he entered the race — “the broken politics in Washington.”

“America, we are better than these last eight years,” he said. “We are a better country than this.”

But Mr. Obama went beyond attacking Mr. McCain by linking him to Mr. Bush and his policies. In the course of a 42-minute speech that ended with a booming display of fireworks and a shower of confetti, he offered searing and far-reaching attacks on his presumptive Republican opponent, repeatedly portraying him as the face of the old way of politics and failed Republican policies.

He said Mr. McCain was out of touch with the problems of everyday Americans. “It’s not because John McCain doesn’t care,” he said. “It’s because John McCain doesn’t get it.”

And he went so far as to attack the presumed strength of Mr. McCain’s campaign, national security. “You know, John McCain likes to say that he’ll follow bin Laden to the gates of hell, but he won’t even follow him to the cave where he lives,” he said.

The speech loomed as arguably Mr. Obama’s most important of the campaign to date. It was an opportunity to present himself to Americans just now beginning to tune in on this campaign, to make the case against Mr. McCain and to offer what many Democrats say he has failed to offer to date: an idea of what he stands for, beyond a promise of change.

To that end, he emphasized what he described as concrete steps he would take to address the anxieties of working-class Americans, promising tax cuts for the middle class and pledging to wean the country from dependence on Middle East oil within 10 years to address high fuel prices.

With the speech, Mr. Obama closed out his party’s convention here and prepared for a quick shift of public attention to the Republicans as Mr. McCain moved to name his running mate and his party got ready for its convention in St. Paul on Monday.

He delivered it in a most unconventional setting, becoming the third nominee of a major party in the nation’s history to leave the site of his convention to give his acceptance speech at a stadium. In this case, it was Invesco Field, set against the Rockies and about a mile from the arena where he had been nominated the night before. His aides chose the stadium to signal a break from typical politics and to permit thousands of his supporters from across the country to hear him speak.

And it came on a night that offered — by the coincidence of scheduling — a reminder of the historic nature of the Obama candidacy: 45 years to the day after the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech on the Mall in Washington. Mr. Obama is the first African-American to be nominated for the White House by a major party, a fact that, for all its significance, has been barely mentioned over the course of this four-day gathering.

Even in invoking the anniversary of the King speech, Mr. Obama only alluded to race. But he quoted a famous phrase from Dr. King’s address to reinforce a central theme of his own speech. “America, we cannot turn back,” Mr. Obama said. “Not with so much work to be done.”

Mr. McCain marked the occasion of the speech by releasing a television advertisement in which, looking into the camera, he paid tribute to Mr. Obama and his accomplishment. “How perfect that your nomination would come on this historic day,” Mr. McCain said. “Tomorrow, we’ll be back at it. But tonight, Senator, job well done.

The advertisement stood in stark contrast to a summer of slashing attacks on Mr. Obama by Mr. McCain that apparently contributed to the tightening of this race. And the softer tone did not last; Mr. Obama was still on the stage, watching the fireworks, when Mr. McCain’s campaign issued a statement attacking him.

“Tonight, Americans witnessed a misleading speech that was so fundamentally at odds with the meager record of Barack Obama,” said Tucker Bounds, a spokesman for Mr. McCain.

In his speech, Mr. Obama scored Mr. McCain for raising questions about his patriotism, and trying, he said, to turn a big election into a fight on small squabbles.

I love this country, and so do you, and so does John McCain,” Mr. Obama said, an American flag lapel affixed to his left lapel. “The men and women who serve in our battlefields may be Democrats and Republicans and Independents, but they have fought together and bled together and some died together under the same proud flag.”

“So I’ve got news for you, John McCain: We all put our country first,” he said, prompting the crowd to break into a chant of “U.S.A., U.S.A.”

Mr. Obama looked completely at ease and unintimidated by his task or the huge crowd that surrounded him. And he chastised Mr. McCain for trying to portray him as a celebrity, an attack aides say has been particularly damaging, offering a list of people who he said had inspired him, from his grandmother to an unemployed factory worker he met on the campaign trail.

“I don’t know what kind of lives John McCain thinks that celebrities lead, but this has been mine,” he said. “These are my heroes. Theirs are the stories that shaped me. And it is on behalf of them that I intend to win this election and keep our promise alive as president of the United States.”

Mr. Obama delivered his speech on a day of considerable political churn. Even as Mr. McCain was paying tribute to Mr. Obama on television, his aides disclosed that he made a choice for vice president and would announce it on Friday, timing intended to draw attention away from Mr. Obama on a day in which he and his running mate, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., would be starting a joint campaign swing.

Mr. Obama’s audience began lining up to go through security and enter the stadium eight hours before he was to speak. As seats filled, they watched a series of musical performances, including by Stevie Wonder, who sang, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours.”

But the table for Mr. Obama was also set by speeches from some of the best-known Democratic leaders. They were led by Al Gore, the former vice president who confronted a question that has, fairly or not, hovered over Mr. Obama as he struggles in his contest with Mr. McCain.

“Why is this election so close?” Mr. Gore asked. “Well I know something about close elections, so let me offer you my opinion. I believe this election is close today mainly because the forces of the status quo are desperately afraid of the change Barack Obama represents.”

Mr. Obama used much of his speech to link Mr. McCain and Mr. Bush — a line of attack that his aides view as their strongest going into the fall — and signaled that he saw next week’s Republican convention, when Mr. McCain and Mr. Bush are to appear together, albeit briefly, as a way to press that line of attack.

“Next week, in Minnesota, the same party that brought you two terms of George Bush and Dick Cheney will ask this country for a third,” he said. “And we are here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look just like the last eight. On Nov. 4, we must stand up and say: ‘Eight is enough.’ ”

Speaking in generally broad terms, Mr. Obama offered a contrast between Republican and Democratic views of the role of government.

“We measure the strength of our economy not by the number of billionaires we have or the profits of the Fortune 500,” he said, “but by whether someone with a good idea can take a risk and start a business, or whether the waitress who lives on tips can take a day off to look after a sick kid without losing her job — an economy that honors the dignity of work.”

The outdoor acceptance speech was by any measure a risky gambit by a campaign that has shown a taste for taking chances and breaking with convention, as his aides acknowledged. Bad weather could have soaked the moment. Mr. Obama’s first question to aides when they proposed this was, “Will it rain?” It did not; the day was dry, if hot.

When John F. Kennedy held his outdoor rally at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in June 1960, half the seats were empty, as a dispatch in The New York Times noted in dismissively describing the event as a “fresh air vaudeville.” The stadium here was packed by 5:15 mountain time, three hours before Mr. Obama was to take the stage, after a week in which Democrats and Obama supporters had been hustling for tickets.

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It’s official: Obama and Biden

from Radio Netherlands Worldwide

by  Reinout van Wagtendonk

Barack Obama is officially the Democratic Party’s candidate for the US presidency. On the third day of the Democratic convention in Denver his defeated rival, Hillary Clinton, submitted a motion to elect Obama the winner by acclamation, and in his speech her husband Bill Clinton expressed his unconditional support for Obama. Later in the day, Joe Biden was officially elected as Barack Obama’s running mate for the vice-presidency.

Bill Clinton salutes the crowdA roll call like this, coming forward state by state to vote for the presidential candidate, is largely just a tradition. The result is known in advance. This time too Barack Obama had for months been the unofficial Democratic candidate. But the long and bitter battle with Hillary Clinton for that nomination had left wounds. That’s why the tradition had to take a dramatic turn. Orchestrated drama, of course, since it had been negotiated in advance and arranged precisely so it could be shown live in the half-hour around mealtime when the big three TV networks have their evening news.

Acclamation
Hillary Clinton interrupted the voting ritual with a motion calling for Obama to be elected by acclamation as a united party’s candidate to face the final battle against John McCain:

“I move Senator Barack Obama of Illinois be selected of this Convention by acclamation as the nominee of the Democratic Party for President of the United States.”

With a rapid blow of her gavel, convention chairwoman Nancy Pelosi ensured that whatever opposition remained would not be heard. The convention now belonged to Barack Obama. Most of Hillary’s supporters resigned themselves to the situation.

Ovation for Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton showed no trace of disappointment or resentment whatever. The former president’s speech was received by the Democrats with a lengthy ovation. Until recently Clinton seemed inclined to undermine Obama’s campaign. But on Wednesday evening he said he was convinced that Obama has what it takes to be the leader of the United States:

“My fellow democrats, I say to you, Barack Obama is ready to lead America and to restore American leadership in the world.”Clinton referred to his own presidential campaign in 1992, when the Republicans tried to write him off as an inexperienced lightweight, just as they are doing with Obama today. Clinton didn’t do too badly, as he modestly pointed out. So that should work again in 2008. The speech was the perfect launching pad for vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden and for Barack Obama’s acceptance speech which will round off the convention on Thursday evening.

Obama appears briefly
Obama appeared briefly in the convention hall on Wednesday night, following Joe Biden’s speech. He explained that he would be holding his speech in a huge stadium, before an audience of 80.000 people, because they are the people who will help him to bring about change in America:

“Change is brought about because ordinary people do extraordinary things, and so we want to open up this Convention to make sure that everybody who wants to come can join in the party and join in the effort to take America back.”

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Sen. Joe Biden Addresses the DNC

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CBS: Joesph Biden Likely VP Choice

from CBS News Blogs

Posted by Brian Montopoli at CBS News

According to the New York Times, the New York Daily News and others, Barack Obama is primarily focused on three men as his search for a running mate draws to a close this week: Indiana Senator Evan Bayh, Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, and Delaware Senator Joseph Biden.

Biden is perhaps the name with the most buzz at the moment, thanks in part to his foreign policy bona fides, which were recently showcased during his high profile trip to Georgia and call for aid to the country.

“Barring a big surprise or last-minute change of heart, the choice is likely to be Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee,” Howard Fineman wrote on MSNBC today. Time’s Mark Halperin is also suggesting Biden will join Obama on the ticket. And Obama mentioned Biden in a speech today, further fueling speculation.

Now we are getting a preview of how Republicans might target the ticket should Biden get the nod. Earlier today, the Republican National Committee sent around a blog post from Politico’s Ben Smith showing a Biden ad from 1988.

It opens with an announcer saying this: “The White House isn’t the place to learn how to deal with international crisis, the balance of power, war and peace, and the economic future of the next generation. A President has got to know the territory, but that’s not enough.”

That sounds not unlike some of the criticism leveled at Obama, a relative newcomer to the political scene, both by Republicans and former rival Hillary Clinton. Should Biden join Obama on the ticket, it’s likely that Republicans will push this line of attack – particularly since they can link it to his running mate.

Biden is also taking some heat in the liberal blogosphere. In a post yesterday, Markos at Daily Kos questioned Biden’s judgment because the Delaware senator voted for the war.

“It strikes me that any pick designed to cover up a ‘flaw’ in Obama (i.e. ‘lack of foreign policy credentials’) only accentuates those flaws,” Kos writes of Biden. “Make him secretary of state.”

Kos also picks up on one purported problem with Biden – that his long tenure in Washington makes him a bad fit with Obama’s message.

“I’d love to see him pick a fresh face in politics who reinforces Obama’s message of change,” he writes. “Biden doesn’t.”

Obama is expected to announce his running mate to supporters late Friday and appear with him at the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois on Saturday.

Delaware State Election Commissioner Elaine Manlove told CBSNews.com this afternoon that Biden, who is up for reelection this year, “can run for both seats” if he becomes the vice presidential nominee.

She said the state’s governor, who is sworn in on the same day as the president, would appoint a replacement for Biden should he win Senate reelection and the vice presidency. (Ruth Ann Minner, a Democrat, is presently the state’s governor.) Whomever the governor appoints would serve a two year term.

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VP Selection Buzz… Biden?

from the Christian Science Monitor

By Jimmy Orr | 08.19.08

All the talk this morning is about the upcoming VP selection. Around the Internet, hysterics ensued yesterday when a New York Times article proclaimed that Barack Obama had determined his running mate. Determined, perhaps. Announced, not yet.

There was some hysteria over on the GOP side as well when Mike Allen’s headline over at Politico screamed that August 29 would be the day John McCain announces his forthcoming saddle pal.

Since we’ve got over a week to go through the endless reasons why a Tim Pawlenty selection would signal to some pundits that McCain is obviously not concerned with conservative cross-dressing anarchists in southern North Dakota, we’ll keep focused on the Obama and his upcoming pick.

The Obama road show

The soon-to-be Democratic nominee is in Florida and North Carolina today. Virginia tomorrow. Then the week opens up for an all out love fest for the happy ticket in determined battleground states.

So who is going to be traveling with Obama? The names on the short lists have remained pretty constant.

It’s Delaware Senator Joe Biden, Indiana Senator Evan Bayh and Virginia Governor Tim Kaine. Although Kansas Governor Kathy Sebelius is still a mention and former rival Senator Hillary Clinton is considered a longshot but a favorite of many. Incredibly, FOX News includes Massachusetts Senator John Kerry as a possible selection.

Then you hear from those “close” to the Senator and those “close” to the campaign and those “close” to advisers who know people in the campaign and those “close” to the guy who works at Dunkin’ Donuts who lives a block down the street from a guy whose sister used to date a lounge singer who watches Hardball a lot. And they’ll all tell you why they know who the selection will be.

Early predictors

Who got it first four years ago? An airline mechanic.

Bryan Smith, a US Airways mechanic, arrived at work on June 5, 2004, the day before Kerry gathered reporters at his wife’s estate near Pittsburgh and formally announced that Edwards was his No. 2. As Smith told NPR, he was passing through a hangar at the Pittsburgh airport to get to his work area “when I was informed by, I am assuming, Mr. Kerry’s people that I should not peek in that hangar and that it was, in fact, closed for the day.”

So he did what you would have done: Every time he passed through that hangar that day, he took a look.

“Around 6 that evening, I peeked in and saw they were putting John Edwards’ name on the airplane,” he said. “They concealed it rather quickly — they taped paper over the logos. I just happened to peek in at the right time.”

He said although he posted the information in an aviation chat room, the mainstream media didn’t pick it up. Perhaps the media will all be monitoring these forums intently over the next 36 – 48 hours.

Or you can look at more traditional clues. Who is getting mentioned by the candidate?

Delaware’s Joe Biden

Obama did mention Joe Biden this morning.

In a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Orlando, Obama said he was “proud to join my friend, Senator Joe Biden, in calling for an additional one billion dollars in reconstruction assistance for the people of Georgia.”

Add this, according to one pundit at CNN, to the fact that “Biden has been uncharacteristcally quiet recently” and we’ve got what the pundit calls a “counter-clue” to the more noisy Evan Bayh.

Let’s see if we can’t get something a little more solid. MSNBC’s Howard Fineman this morning said he had conversations with those who were actually vetted by the search committee:

My bottom line is this: Barring a big surprise or last-minute change of heart, the choice is likely to be Sen. Joe Biden of Deleware, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. He is a lively and feisty if unpredictable campaigner with working-class roots and a street-level feel for the hot spots of the globe — which he can use to go toe-to-toe with Sen. John McCain.

He goes on to say that one of the finalists for the VP slot would bet his life on the Biden pick.

Just in case Fineman is off target, we can look at last week’s Sunday shows for clues. These shows they say are auditions for the big job. And if that’s the case we’re looking at Evan Bayh, Tim Kaine and Georgia President Mikheil Saakashvili.

Assuming that Obama was unable to convince Saakashvili to join his ticket and subsequently bend the constitution to allow it, we’ll look at the first two selections.

Virginia’s Tim Kaine

Folks down in Richmond are ruling out their own Governor because of a rumor of a planned stop in Chester, Virginia. The event is closed to the public.

You wouldn’t think that a Presidential nominee would be holding closed events if he’s just announced his VP candidate, would you? You’d think the more cheering people, the more waving signs and banners, the better, as the candidates are running toward their convention in Denver next week? What good would a closed event be for publicity and momentum?

However, the TV blog that reported the Chester rumor will continue to monitor this in case it is all a smokescreen. Stay tuned.

Indiana’s Evan Bayh

As for the oft-discussed Senator from Indiana? Bloggers on the left continue not to like him. The so-called “100,000 Strong Against Evan Bayh for VP” group on Facebook (the group really only has 3,853 members – but who’s counting) received a lot of press last week.

As for news this morning, it looks like Bayh is being mentioned in an Internet hoax is making the rounds. Someone over at the conservative Free Republic posted an alleged screenshot of CNN that they claim accidentally made it up on the news network’s site announcing Senator Bayh’s selection.

Gotta love what the always-enjoyable Oliver Berkman at the Guardian’s U.S. campaign site said of the screenshot in question:

If it really is [authentic], I’ll eat my own face, but the tale it relates deserves points for being imaginative. Sadly it loses them for being full of spelling errors and ridiculously bad writing, and for using the wrong font.

Keep your blackberries handy. Obama’s text is coming soon.

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ABC calls Biden the Clear Frontrunner for Veep

updated 1 hour, 48 minutes ago

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Within the last few hours I’ve spoken with two of the finalists for the role of Barack Obama’s running-mate, and to two other sources who are close to the process.

My bottom line is this: Barring a big surprise or last-minute change of heart, the choice is likely to be Sen. Joe Biden of Deleware, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.

He is a lively and feisty if unpredictable campaigner with working-class roots and a street-level feel for the hot spots of the globe — which he can use to go toe-to-toe with Sen. John McCain.

“If I had to bet my life on it, I’d bet it is Joe,” said one of the other contenders.

Said another, “Barack is moving toward a seasoned Beltway type, and that probably means Biden.”

And a source personally close to Obama simply said “Biden makes the most sense.”

Besides his experience, Biden brings other things to the table.

He is from a modest Catholic background in Scranton, Pa. He represents Delaware, but has long been a figure in Eastern Pennsylvania — a key swing state.

And he is a voluble and combative character, even with his ready smile.

“Joe won’t be afraid to get in McCain’s face, which is what Obama needs,” said one non-contender source.

Others have pointed out to Obama that this is why Biden would be hard to control as vice president.

But maybe Obama has decided to worry about that later.

Biden’s personal story is compelling. He lost his first wife in an auto accident and is devoted to his second, Jill — a lifelong teacher.

Biden has largely escaped any hint of scandal, personal or political, in a long career, even though he was forced to withdraw from the Democratic race in 1988 amid charges of plaigiarism.

Those charges now seem sadly trivial given all that’s happened since.

Another name on Obama’s short list is Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana.

But unlike Biden, Bayh is known for his mild demeanor. In addition to his lack of evident fire, Bayh has another handicap — ongoing questions about his wife’s business dealings. Also in the running is Virginia govenor Tom Kaine. But he may fall short because of his lack of foreign policy experience.

Also vetted of course were Sen. Hillary Clinton and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson.

And who is the dark, dark horse in this Veepstakes? I think it is former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.

But the spotlight keeps moving back to Biden.

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Biden Stock up on the Political Market

STOCK CURRENT VALUE TODAY
Joe Biden $45.49 $21.89
Kathleen Sebelius $25.16 $-3.10
Evan Bayh $10.27 $-3.81
Hillary Clinton $7.56 $2.63
Tim Kaine $5.57 $3.85
Bill Richardson $2.23 $-6.11
Sam Nunn $1.16 $1.16
Wesley Clark $0.91 $-0.09
Al Gore $0.63 $-11.51
Other $0.63 $-2.08
Chuck Hagel $0.12 $0.11
Chet Edwards $0.09 $0.09
Tom Daschle $0.04 $-2.87
Jim Webb $0.03 $-0.01
Michael Bloomberg $0.01 $0.01
Jack Reed $0.01 $-0.16
William Cohen $0.00 unchanged
Chris Dodd $0.00 unchanged
John Edwards $0.00 unchanged
Lee Hamilton $0.00 unchanged
Claire McCaskill $0.00 unchanged
Janet Napolitano $0.00 unchanged
Bill Nelson $0.00 unchanged
Colin Powell $0.00 unchanged
Ed Rendell $0.00 unchanged
Timothy Roemer $0.00 unchanged

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Obama Veepwatch: Joe Biden

by Andrew Romano
from the Newsweek blog Stumper

Name: Joe Biden
Age: 65
Education: University of Delaware (undergraduate), University of Syracuse (law)
Resume: Five-term Democratic senator from Delaware, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, two-time Democratic presidential candidate
Source of Speculation: He’s suddenly acting the part. Earlier this week, Biden introduced legislation (with Republican Sen. Dick Lugar of Indiana) that would triple non-military U.S. aid to Pakistan–legislation that just so happened to materialize the same day Obama was set to deliver a major speech in Washington on the future of U.S. national security. Miraculously, Obama announced in the aforementioned address that he would be “cosponsoring” the bill, immediately boosting his bipartisan foreign-policy cred. Talk about a tag team. Meanwhile, Biden rushed to the Illinois senator’s defense Thursday over charges that he has not adequately addressed Afghanistan as chairman of a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee, deftly defusing the issue with a letter to South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint (R) that the New Republic’s Noam Scheiber calledabout as impressive a case as I’ve seen a VP candidate make for himself.” Oh, and then there’s the fact that Biden has come right out and confessed that he’d “make a great vice president.” If he does say so himself.
Backstory: Biden’s interest in the No. 2 slot is nothing new. Last November, a group of NEWSWEEK editors (including yours truly) asked the senator over lunch whether he’d consider serving as Hillary Clinton’s vice president. His response? “I love Bill Clinton, but can you imagine being vice president? I’m not looking for a ceremonial post.” He ruled out Secretary of State for the same reason. At the time, that was the news. But looking back, what’s striking is how he didn’t nix the idea of signing on with Obama as well. “In a Barack administration, I’d probably be looked to a whole lot more,” he told us. “Now, I don’t think [he] would ask me. But I think [he] would look to me more.” This was two months before Iowa. Since dropping out of the race, Biden has become even more candid, recently telling Brian Williams, “Of course I’ll say yes”–a rare deviation from the candidates’ standard coyness.If the presidential nominee thought that I could help him win,” he added, “I’m [not] going to say to the first African-American candidate about to make history in the world, no, I will not help you.” So where does Biden actually stand? According to a report this week in the Washington Post, he’s “believed to be high on Obama’s list.”
Odds: It’s no suprise that Biden’s in the running. The main reason is that his greatest strength–foreign-policy experience–is widely seen as Obama’s greatest weakness. The Democratic Party’s leading voice on foreign affairs–he’s chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee three times during his 35 years in Washington–Biden is perhaps the only potential veep who could immediately and credibly go toe-to-to with Republican nominee John McCain on Iraq, terrorism, Afghanistan and Pakistan. As E.J. Dionne recently noted, “Biden has been critical of Bush’s approach to Iraq and the world for the right reasons, and from the beginning.” In the fall of 2002, he tried (with Republican Sens. Lugar and Chuck Hagel) to pass a more modest war resolution that put additional constraints on Bush, and, like Obama, he was warning of the costs of a lengthy occupation even before the war began. Since then, Biden has presented and pushed a realistic proposal to divide Iraq into semi-autonomous Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish regions–a plan that may appeal to Obama as he works toward a responsible withdrawal–while arguing that the U.S. should refocus its resources on Afghanistan, Pakistan and loose nukes instead. (Conveniently, Obama agrees.) What’s more, Biden’s son Beau, the attorney general of Delaware, will be deploying to Iraq this fall with his national guard unit–meaning that Biden will be one of the few politicians (like McCain, whose son Jimmy is also serving in Iraq) for whom the war is viscerally, inescapably personal.
Obviously, the Delaware senator is not the only older, whiter foreign-policy pro on Obama’s list. But unlike, say, Sam Nunn or Jim Webb, he’s expert at using his experience to score points on the trail, whether by attacking Republican inanities–a role he relishes–or clarifying Democratic proposals. In other words, he’s good at policy and politics. As Ezra Klein has written, Biden dispenses with the traditional Democratic presumption that “Republicans are strong on national security, and voters needed to be convinced of their failures and then led to a place of support for a Democratic alternative,” choosing instead to start “from the position that Republicans [have] been catastrophic failures on foreign policy, and their ongoing claims to competence and leadership should be laughed at.” Obama can’t do that on his own–but he could use someone who can. When Rudy Giuliani said, “America will be safer with a Republican president,” for example, Obama spun out some airy sentences about taking “the politics of fear to a new low” and believing that “Americans are ready to reject those kind of politics.” Biden, in contrast, mocked “America’s Mayor.” “Rudy Giuliani [is] probably the most underqualified man since George Bush to seek the presidency,” he said. “There’s only three things he mentions in a sentence –a noun, a verb, and 9/11. There’s nothing else!” This serene self-confidence–even arrogance–made Biden the breakout star of the Democratic debates, and it would likely add a necessary dash of bareknuckle candor to Obama’s “high road” bid. In other words, he’d actually make an effective sidekick.

Biden’s positives don’t stop there. As a working-class Catholic with an average-Joe speaking style and a heartbreaking personal story–his wife and infant daughter died in a car crash just a month after he was elected to the Senate in 1972–he could woo the blue-collar whites who were reluctant to back Obama in the primaries. Even though Delaware is a lock for the Dems, Biden was born in purple Pennsylvania and has been a regular in the Philadelphia media market for decades. Plus, he’s already survived the public scrutiny of two presidential campaigns–meaning no surprises.

Biden, of course, is far from perfect. He’s famously long-winded. He tends to generate gaffes–like, say,  calling Obama “clean” and “articulate”at semi-regular intervals. His thousands of Senate votes would provide Republicans with a treasure trove of oppo research. He was forced from the 1988 presidential race after plagiarizing a speech by Neil Kinnock, then-leader of the British Labour Party. He kowtowed to Delaware’s credit card industry by supporting a bankruptcy bill despised by liberal activists. Despite his 2002 maneuvering, he ultimately voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq–another unpopular position on the left. And his decades spent swimming in the swamps of Washington may dilute Obama’s call to “change our politics.”

In the end, the Democratic nominee has to decide which factor carries more weight: Biden’s motley assortment of drawbacks–none of which disqualify him outright–or his unique ability to neutralize McCain’s greatest advantage. If it’s the latter, Biden could very well top the list.

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Barack Obama Ready to Announce Running Mate

*

WASHINGTON: Senator Barack Obama has all but settled on his choice for a running mate and set an elaborate rollout plan for his decision, beginning with an early morning alert to

supporters, perhaps as soon as Wednesday morning, aides said.

Obama’s deliberations remain remarkably closely held. Aides said perhaps a half-dozen advisers were involved in the final discussions in an effort to enforce a command that Obama issued to staff members: that his decision not leak out until supporters are notified.

Obama had not notified his choice — or any of those not selected — of his decision as of late Monday, advisers said. Going into the final days, Obama was said to be focused mainly on three candidates: Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana, Governor Tim Kaine of Virginia and Senator Joseph Biden Jr. of Delaware.

Some Democrats said they still hoped that he would choose Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, or Governor Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, who has been under steady consideration by Obama’s campaign.

By all indications, Obama is likely to choose someone relatively safe and avoid taking a chance with a game-changing selection. A similar strategic choice now faces Obama’s Republican rival, Senator John McCain of Arizona, who has been under pressure from some Republicans to make a more daring choice.

Obama’s advisers said he all but reached his decision while on vacation in Hawaii. They said it was the end of what proved to be an unexpectedly intense process, condensed because he did not want to start actively vetting potential running mates before Clinton quit the race in June.

By contrast, McCain, who had wrapped up the Republican nomination months earlier, began his process in late spring.

That gave Obama’s team of lawyers less time to review candidates, and several Democrats said it appeared that the list of candidates who were deeply vetted was limited to about a half-dozen people. (Campaigns typically check the background of candidates who are not necessarily in play, as a way of gaining favor with various constituencies or to keep the other party off balance.)

The team of advance workers and aides involved in planning the rollout — timed to galvanize Democratic voters as Obama heads to Denver next week for the party convention — have not been told who Obama will be selecting.

If all goes according to plan, the announcement will be made with text and e-mail messages to supporters early in the morning, in time to capture coverage on the morning news shows and take advantage of a full day’s news cycle.

Obama and his running mate will begin, perhaps that day, a visit to swing states. Plans call for them to be on the trail together for much of the time between the day of the announcement and the day Obama arrives in Denver, a week from Wednesday, but their most intense campaigning together will come after the convention.

Obama’s schedule calls for him to awaken on Tuesday in Orlando, Florida, and by the end of the day be in Raleigh, North Carolina. By Wednesday, he is scheduled to be in Virginia. The Obama campaign has cautioned against reading anything into his schedule, saying it could be changed in an instant to accommodate the plan to introduce the running mate.

Aides said the announcement would come at the earliest on Wednesday morning.

Obama’s advisers said they wanted to time the announcement to get maximum publicity going into the convention, after a stretch in which Obama was on vacation in Hawaii and McCain made good use of having the political stage largely to himself. Vice-presidential announcements are one of a handful of moments when the presidential candidates are given a clear grab at the public spotlight, and both Obama and McCain have put much thought into the timing of their announcements.

If Obama is looking to build excitement going into the convention, McCain’s aides have looked to announcing his choice right after the Democratic convention, which ends Aug. 28, a Thursday, as a way of stepping on whatever bounce Obama enjoys from his nomination.

The Republican convention begins the following Monday.

Democrats close to the process said the ability to turn up information on the Web had made it easier for Obama’s search team — Caroline Kennedy and Eric Holder, a former deputy attorney general — to plumb the backgrounds of prospective running mates with relatively little notice. In addition, because so many of the candidates were senators, they were required to file annual financial disclosure reports.

Holder and Kennedy have been working largely out of Holder’s law firm in Washington, using lawyers in his firm and others — many of whom are veterans of the process from having worked for Senator John Kerry in 2004 and Al Gore in 2000 — to check the backgrounds of the potential candidates.

Obama was briefed frequently throughout the proceedings — receiving updates by telephone and e-mail — and came to Washington for a handful of meetings with a small group of senior advisers in the law offices of Covington & Burling, where Holder is a partner. With the vetting concluded, there was no activity on Monday in the firm’s suite of offices on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Unlike in previous selections, Obama has been largely spared the obligation of staging elaborate cloak-and-dagger processes to interview prospective running mates because he has been campaigning with them in close quarters, giving him a chance to get to know them.

The rampant speculation during the selection process encompassed many of the best-known names in the party, including Kerry and Gore, Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut, Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico and former Senator Sam Nunn of Georgia.

The big choice for Obama, advisers said, was the extent to which he needed to choose someone who would fill perceived holes in his résumé — lack of experience, particularly in foreign policy — versus a candidate who would reinforce his promise of change or one who might help him win a contested state.

Biden, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, clearly fell into the category of helping Obama on foreign policy, while Kaine is a relative newcomer to national politics and would reinforce the notion of change. Both Kaine and Bayh would help Obama in a state that Democrats are trying to put in play.

For all the attention to Obama’s deliberations, it is by no means assured that his choice will make a big difference in the outcome of the campaign.

“Vice-presidential candidates can make a marginal difference,” said Matt Bennett, the co-director of Third Way, a Democratic advocacy group, “but they rarely matter in terms of winning a state or region — as Mike Dukakis and John Kerry found out. And a weak candidate doesn’t really drag the ticket into the drink — as George H. W. Bush found out.”

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Kansas Governer Backs Obama!

 Obama wins backing of Kansas governor

from The Baltimore Sun

by John McCormick

EL DORADO, Kan – Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama has won the endorsement of the governor of Kansas, a state where no Democratic nominee since Lyndon Johnson in 1964 has won electoral votes.

Gov. Kathleen Sebelius arrived at the end of an event here, in the hometown of Obama’s grandfather on his mother’s side, because of high winds and snow in Kansas.

“Right now, I think we are with the next president of the United States,” she said.

Democratic presidential candidates had sought her backing, even though George W. Bush carried the state by large margins in the 2000 and 2004 elections.

Sebelius said Obama has “Midwestern values” that he got “from his grandparents and from his mom.”

With the Kansas caucuses being part of the 22 states that will hold nominating contests a week from today, Sebelius urged more than 2,000 people gathered in a community college gymnasium to support Obama.

“Don’t just applaud, but you caucus for him,” she said.

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