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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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Barack Backers Ballyhoo Biden; Delaware Senator Keeps Quiet

from VP Watch

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Some key surrogates for Barack Obama are touting Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., as a vice presidential pick.

Biden’s cheering section includes Rep. Artur Davis, D-Ala., who attended Harvard Law at the same time as the PDN (presumed Democratic nominee).

“I do think that Biden is one of the finalists,” said Davis, who had heavily promoted former Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn earlier in the process. Davis claimed no knowledge of Obama’s thinking, but he is not the only lawmaker close to the campaign to immediately name Biden when asked about a VP pick this week.

The Capitol Hill Biden ballyhoo comes on the heels of Clinton campaign Chairman Terry McAuliffe’s prediction that it would be the longtime Delaware senator, who was 30 when he entered the Senate in 1973.

As Obama’s chairman on the Foreign Relations Committee, Biden’s experience could bolster the ticket’s international affairs credentials.

What may be most notable about the Biden chatter is that it is not coming from the famously loquacious Biden.

“I don’t have any comment on the vice presidency at all,” Biden told my CQ colleague Kate Hunter today. “Because no matter what I say, it leads to a second question, and I don’t have an answer to any of it.”

He did tell NBC’s Brian Williams late last month on Meet the Press that he would accept if the spot were offered but that he is not interested in it.

SEN. BIDEN: Unlike most other people, I’m being straight with you. If asked, I will do it. I’ve made it clear I do not want to be asked.

Depending on how much Obama is willing to part company with his partys’ base, Biden’s voting record contains plenty of breaks with Democratic orthodoxy. For starters, there’s abortion. Biden has consistently supported bills banning late-term or “partial birth” abortions and opposed allowing the federal government to fund abortions. He also favored expanding Justice Department wiretapping authority in terrorism cases dating at least as far back as the Clinton administration, supported the 1996 welfare overhaul, and backed major free-trade initiatives, including NAFTA.

However, Biden has been an ardent supporter of many liberal causes as a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, supporting Roe v. Wade, backing most gun control measures, and opposing the nominations of John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas and Robert Bork to the Supreme Court.

His support for easing immigration laws in 1986 and again in recent years could help Obama appeal to Latino voters in a series of swing states. And he has a record of opposing depositing nuclear waste at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain, an overriding issue in a state that is expected to be one of the most closely contested in November.

Though they have not always seen eye-to-eye on the Iraq war — Biden voted for the resolution authorizing it and Obama opposed Biden’s plan for dividing the nation into Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish regions — Biden’s criticism of the administration’s handling of the war has been fierce.

Biden dropped his second presidential bid — he also ran in 1988 — in January after a poor showing in the Iowa caucuses.

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