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“I can tell you that Joe Biden gets it” – Barack Obama

from “Obama and Biden Come Out Swinging”-By ADAM NAGOURNEY and JEFF ZELENY, New York Times

“I can tell you that Joe Biden gets it,” said Obama, gazing across a sea of thousands of people. “He’s that unique public servant who is at home in a bar in Cedar Rapids and the corridors of the Capitol; in the VFW hall in Concord, and at the center of an international crisis.”

“That’s because he is still that scrappy kid from Scranton who beat the odds; the dedicated family man and committed Catholic who knows every conductor on that Amtrak train to Wilmington,” Barack said.

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Biden and McCain, Rivals Again

from the Washingtonpost.com

By Michael D. Shear, Paul Kane and Jonathan Weisman
By selecting Sen. Joe Biden as his running mate, Barack Obama has picked a Senate colleague who has a long and friendly rivalry with Obama’s Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain.

From their perches on the leading foreign policy committees, Biden and McCain have shadowboxed across the globe, building reputations as experts in their respective parties on war and peace.

But their clash over the direction of the war in Iraq — and now the prospect of a high-stakes political campaign this fall — has strained that collegial relationship, leaving both men more than willing to do battle with the other.

“He has respect for McCain but he’ll be the first to angered by the sort of cheap shots they’re throwing at Obama now,” said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), who predicted that Biden will relish the role of playing a lead attack dog on McCain.

Over the years, Biden and McCain have traveled broadly, often returning from war zones to spar with each other on the Sunday morning talk shows. As chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs committee, Biden visited Iraq more than 7 times; McCain has returned to Iraq eight times as the senior Republican on the Armed Services committee.

The result was a rivalry — and a friendship — built on respect, people in both parties said. In 2005, Biden told comedian Jon Stewart that “John McCain is a personal friend, a great friend. I would be honored to run with or against John McCain because I think the country
would be better off.”

Asked in 1999 what he would do on the first day of his presidency, McCain said he would “call in Joe Biden and John Kerry and Zbigniew Brzezinski and Carl Levin and like-minded Republicans” for a frank discussion about the need for a bipartisan foreign policy.

“They actually have a long and good relationship. They’re friends,” a senior Biden aide said Saturday morning.

McCain called his colleague early Saturday morning to congratulate him, aides said. In his first speech as Obama’s running mate, Biden acknowledged that McCain is “genuinely a friend of mine” before proceeding to blast his friend for being a wholehearted backer of the Bush-McCain policies that Biden said threaten the future.

That friendship dates back decades, to the time that a young John McCain served as a staffer to senators like Biden. It was then, McCain has said, that he first wanted to become a member of Congress.

In a biography of McCain, author Robert Timberg wrote that “McCain was much in demand for overseas escort duty…He was fun to be around, his wit appealing, his natural exuberance infectious. In an Athens taverna he danced on a table with Senator Joseph Biden’s wife, Jill, a red bandanna clenched in his teeth.”

Later, as senators, the pair sometimes joined forces, especially on military and foreign policy matters. In 1999, a “McCain-Biden” bill would have authorized President Bill Clinton to use “all necessary force,” including ground troops, in Yugoslavia.

Democrats and the Republican Senate leadership opposed the bill as too broad and too open-ended, and rejected it, but the partnership was an example of their willingness to work collaboratively.

Biden and McCain both have sons in the military, giving each a personal connection to the war they see so differently. McCain’s son, Jimmy is a Marine who served in Iraq until Feburuary. Biden’s son, Beau, a reserve officer who is the Attorney General of Delaware, reports to Iraq in October.

They are also both shaped by tragedy. McCain spent five-and-a-half years in a Vietnamese prison after being captured when his plane was shot down. Biden’s wife and infant daughter were killed in an auto accident shortly after his first election.

On a lighter note, both Biden and McCain were among the most frequent guests on Don Imus’ radio show, often heaping praise on each other. During one show in 2006, Biden was effusive about McCain’s efforts to stop the Bush Administration’s torture policy.

“You know, I mean, thank God for John McCain in saying, whoa, what are you guys talking about?,” Biden told Imus.

But that friendship is likely to be strained further during the
upcoming election, as Biden is tasked by Obama to attack McCain. It is a task he had already begun even before being picked.

In April, Biden gave a speech at Georgetown University in which he said there is “no daylight between John McCain and George Bush. They are joined at the hip.”

In the speech, he called McCain “a man I greatly admire, a man I consider a personal and close friend.” But he went on to slam what he called a “myopic” view of foreign policy and said that “fundamental change” will require “more than a great soldier. It’s going to require a wise leader.”

Last month, in another speech, Biden accused McCain of “profound confusion” and “twisted logic” on the fight against terrorism and urged him to “study history” on the subject.

It is on terrorism and Iraq that there are likely to be the greatest clashes.

Both supported the authorization for war in Iraq, though Biden argues he was trying to give Bush the strongest hand possible force United Nations weapons inspectors back in. After the invasion, Biden preceded McCain in arguing for additional troops.

But in 2006, the two broke irrevocably. With sectarian violence spiraling, Biden argued that 500,000 troops wouldn’t bring peace if the Iraqis couldn’t reconcile.

Since then, they have traveled separately and returned with
opposite conclusions. About the time McCain earned criticism walking around a Baghdad Market in a flak jacket and offering a rosy assessment, Biden was marooned in Fallujah in a sand storm. Stuck in a room with Iraqi politicians, he was struck by the discord and lack of
will to reconcile.

Staff researchers Alice Crites and Lucy Shackelford contributed to this report.

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New York Times Op-Ed – I Hope it’s Biden as VP

Hoping it’s Biden

Barack Obama has decided upon a vice-presidential running mate. And while I don’t know who it is as I write, for the good of the country, I hope he picked Joe Biden.

Biden’s weaknesses are on the surface. He has said a number of idiotic things over the years and, in the days following his selection, those snippets would be aired again and again.

But that won’t hurt all that much because voters are smart enough to forgive the genuine flaws of genuine people. And over the long haul, Biden provides what Obama needs:

Working-Class Roots. Biden is a lunch-bucket Democrat. His father was rich when he was young — played polo, cavorted on yachts, drove luxury cars. But through a series of bad personal and business decisions, he was broke by the time Joe Jr. came along. They lived with their in-laws in Scranton, Pa., then moved to a dingy working-class area in Wilmington, Del. At one point, the elder Biden cleaned boilers during the week and sold pennants and knickknacks at a farmer’s market on the weekends.

His son was raised with a fierce working-class pride — no one is better than anyone else. Once, when Joe Sr. was working for a car dealership, the owner threw a Christmas party for the staff. Just as the dancing was to begin, the owner scattered silver dollars on the floor and watched from above as the mechanics and salesmen scrambled about for them. Joe Sr. quit that job on the spot.

Even today, after serving for decades in the world’s most pompous workplace, Senator Biden retains an ostentatiously unpretentious manner. He campaigns with an army of Bidens who seem to emerge by the dozens from the old neighborhood in Scranton. He has disdain for privilege and for limousine liberals — the mark of an honest, working-class Democrat.

Democrats in general, and Obama in particular, have trouble connecting with working-class voters, especially Catholic ones. Biden would be the bridge.

Honesty. Biden’s most notorious feature is his mouth. But in his youth, he had a stutter. As a freshman in high school he was exempted from public speaking because of his disability, and was ridiculed by teachers and peers. His nickname was Dash, because of his inability to finish a sentence.

He developed an odd smile as a way to relax his facial muscles (it still shows up while he’s speaking today) and he’s spent his adulthood making up for any comments that may have gone unmade during his youth.

Today, Biden’s conversational style is tiresome to some, but it has one outstanding feature. He is direct. No matter who you are, he tells you exactly what he thinks, before he tells it to you a second, third and fourth time.

Presidents need someone who will be relentlessly direct. Obama, who attracts worshippers, not just staff members, needs that more than most.

Loyalty. Just after Biden was elected to the senate in 1972, his wife, Neilia, and daughter Naomi were killed in a car crash. His career has also been marked by lesser crises. His first presidential run ended in a plagiarism scandal. He nearly died of a brain aneurism.

New administrations are dominated by the young and the arrogant, and benefit from the presence of those who have been through the worst and who have a tinge of perspective. Moreover, there are moments when a president has to go into the cabinet room and announce a decision that nearly everyone else on his team disagrees with. In those moments, he needs a vice president who will provide absolute support. That sort of loyalty comes easiest to people who have been down themselves, and who had to rely on others in their own moments of need.

Experience. When Obama talks about postpartisanship, he talks about a grass-roots movement that will arise and sweep away the old ways of Washington. When John McCain talks about it, he describes a meeting of wise old heads who get together to craft compromises. Obama’s vision is more romantic, but McCain’s is more realistic.

When Biden was a young senator, he was mentored by Hubert Humphrey, Mike Mansfield and the like. He was schooled in senatorial procedure in the days when the Senate was less gridlocked. If Obama hopes to pass energy and health care legislation, he’s going to need someone with that kind of legislative knowledge who can bring the battered old senators together, as in days of yore.

There are other veep choices. Tim Kaine seems like a solid man, but selecting him would be disastrous. It would underline all the anxieties voters have about youth and inexperience. Evan Bayh has impeccably centrist credentials, but the country is not in the mood for dispassionate caution.

Biden’s the one. The only question is whether Obama was wise and self-aware enough to know that.

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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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The Case for Joe Biden

from WASHINGTONPOST.com

by Chris Cillizza

With Barack Obama rumored to be nearing a vice presidential pick, there is NO candidate hotter than Sen. Joe Biden (Del.).

Why?

The decision to name former governor Mark Warner (Va.) as the keynote speaker for the Democratic National Convention seems to suggest that Gov. Tim Kaine is falling from the top tier. The “security” theme of Wednesday night at the convention, the same night the vice president will speak, seems to suggest that the veep pick will be someone with a deep resume. And, the notoriously loquacious Biden — and his campaign team — has been preternaturally quiet over the past few weeks, a silence that is fueling rumors that he is the pick.

Today we make the case for Obama to pick Biden. Tomorrow we offer the opposite argument.

Foreign Policy First

There’s no one in the Democratic Party who knows more about foreign policy and is as comfortable speaking about it as Biden.

Bideb and Obama
Sen. Barack Obama huddles with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph Biden, in Jan. during a hearing on Iraq. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Biden has done several stints as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and during the Democratic primaries he spoke passionately and intelligently about Iraq while also framing the way in which America needs to position itself in the post-9/11 world.

For Obama, whose only obvious weakness in the race is his light foreign policy resume, Biden would provide an immediate boost and badly complicate John McCain’s attempts to paint the Illinois senator as ill-prepared to represent the United States on the world stage.

Here’s a snippet from Biden’s comments about McCain during a conference call last month: “He doesn’t get it. The mere fact that you would have someone compare the circumstances now, in the past, or in the future, of Iraq to the ending of World War II and the ending of the Korean war absolutely demonstrates a total fundamental lack of understanding of what the problems America faces.”

That quote (and others like it) suggest Biden can — and would — go toe to toe with McCain (and whoever the Arizona Senator chooses as his running mate) over conflicts across the world, relationships with foreign leaders and vision for the future of the country.

One other potential foreign policy benefit to Obama in picking Biden. The Delaware senator has known McCain for the better part of three decades, meaning that he knows ever nook and cranny, every nuance of the positions that the Arizona Senator has taken over that time. That means the Obama campaign can call McCain on any sort of foreign policy flip flop by using Biden, a credible messenger on the issues.

Average Joe

It’s a strange thing to say about a guy who has spent 36 years in the Senate but Biden genuinely has appeal to the blue-collar, working class voters that Obama struggled to attract during the Democratic primaries.

Maybe it’s Biden roots in hard-scrabble Scranton, Pennsylvania. (Hello, Michael Scott!) Maybe it’s the fact that Biden takes Amtrak home to Delaware every night and knows the name of all the conductors and ticket agents on the route. Maybe it’s the fact that his personal story — his wife and daughter were killed a month after he was elected to the Senate in 1972 — resonates with people who have suffered similar losses.

Regardless of what it is, there’s little question that, in the words of one Biden advocate, he passed the “have a beer” test. That is, Biden is the kind of guy most voters can imagine themselves having a beer (or, heck, a boilermaker) with — a crucial hurdle when it comes to electing a president. (George W. Bush, widely dismissed by elites, was elected to two terms due in no small part because he was perceived as far more of a regular guy than either Al Gore or John Kerry.)

Biden’s ability to connect with blue collar voters would almost certainly help Obama in Pennsylvania (aside from Biden’s roots in Scranton, he has been a regular figure on Philadelphia television during his campaigns) as well as potentially in Ohio and Michigan as well.

It’s also worth noting that Biden is a strong Catholic. Obama lost white Catholics badly to Hillary Rodham Clinton during the primary season and, as Post pollster Jon Cohen notes, white Catholics have emerged as one of the bellwether groups in recent elections; the candidate who wins white Catholics has won the presidency in every election since 1972.

Charismatic Campaigner

It’s hard to remember now but back in 1987 when Biden first ran for president he was the hottest commodity in the Democratic Party — the bright young star who would lead on the national stage for years to come.

That wasn’t to be but in the intervening years Biden has lost none of his charisma and ability while adding the heft that comes with decades spent in the political mix.

During the primary season, Biden surprised many observers — The Fix included — by winning a number of crucial endorsements in Iowa despite the fact he was a decided longshot. In fact, in the days leading up to the caucuses, there was some buzz that Biden could shock the world and end up in the top three thanks to the energetic and effective campaign he ran.

Ultimately Biden fell well short, a finish that had more to do with his inability/unwillingness to raise the money necessary to compete with the Big Three of Obama, Clinton and former senator John Edwards (N.C.) than his own campaign skills.

As the vice presidential nominee to a candidate who looks likely to shatter every fundraising record there is, Biden will be freed from the burden of cash-collection and will be allowed to devote full time to stumping for the ticket.

And, when it comes to the crucial vice presidential debate on Oct. 2 in St. Louis, it’s hard to imagine a more tested and able candidate than Biden. Biden got almost no air time during the nearly two dozen Democratic debates (as befitted his second tier status) but was still able to make lemonade out of lemons more often than not.

He thinks quickly on his feet, is extremely well versed on the issues of the day, and, most importantly, knows how to inject a bit of humor into the proceedings. The only knock? Biden tends to be a bit long-winded — but more on that tomorrow in the case against him.

Attack Dog

There aren’t all that many tasks for the vice president. Advocate for the presidential nominee, stump in off-the-beaten track places, and, most importantly, attack the other party’s candidate.

Recent political history is littered with vice presidents who either couldn’t or wouldn’t play the attack dog role. Allies of Kerry (Mass.) still complain that Edwards didn’t do enough to hit President Bush and Vice President Cheney during the 2004 campaign — perhaps out of fear of hurting his own presidential chances if Kerry came up short.

Biden’s main rival at this point for the vice presidency — Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh — has been dogged by questions of whether picking him would be a repeat of Kerry naming Edwards; Bayh, a tremendously popular figure in Indiana politics, hasn’t had a race in which he had to get down and dirty, well, ever, and is clearly interested in being president down the line.

Biden, on the other hand, will be 66 years old when and if Obama is sworn in next January and, according to various sources on Capitol Hill, is perfectly content to spend the remainder of his days as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. In other words: He has exorcised the presidential bug.

Picking Biden then would virtually ensure that Obama would not have to worry about whether the vice president was constantly trying to position for a national race of his own down the road.

Add to that Biden’s clear willingness to deliver attacks. During the primaries, Biden was one of the rare candidates willing to throw an elbow from time to time — although always with a smile on his face and a kind word for his foe.

In that, Biden most closely resembles Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Ct.) whose polite demeanor masks a hard-edged commitment to delivering sharp and effective attacks. Given the real potential that Lieberman could be McCain’s pick, Obama would be smart to go with Biden to neutralize the Connecticut Senator’s well-earned reputation as a skilled attacker.

As always, this piece is meant to spark conversation, so feel free to agree, disagree, condemn or compliment in the comments section below. (Looking for past “case for/case against” pieces? You can find them in our “Veepstakes” category.)

Tomorrow: The case against Biden.

By Chris Cillizza |  August 13, 2008; 1:09 PM ET

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New York Times on Joe Biden as the VP elect

As Running Mate, Biden Offers Foreign Policy Heft but an Insider Image

Eric Thayer for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — While other potential vice-presidential nominees were appearing on the Sunday talk shows, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. spent the weekend in Tbilisi, Georgia, meeting with the country’s embattled president, Mikheil Saakashvili. The trip was made at the request of the Georgian leader, who is trying to rally international support after Russia invaded his country this month.

Mr. Biden’s visit to Georgia (he was expected to return to Washington on Monday) highlighted his standing as an expert on foreign policy — he is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee — who is known and respected in capitals around the world. But it also emphasized his status as a Washington insider at a time when Americans say they are hungering for change.

The two sides of Mr. Biden’s extensive résumé are likely to be receiving a closer look as Senator Barack Obama prepares to announce his running mate, probably sometime this week.

Only Mr. Obama and a handful of close and very discreet aides know where the vice-presidential selection process stands with the Democratic National Convention in Denver just a week away. But several people close to the campaign say Mr. Biden, of Delaware, is among those who are under consideration.

Political etiquette requires potential vice-presidential picks to deny any interest in the post and assert how much they love their present job, all the while coyly batting their eyelashes at the nominee to signal their availability.

But Mr. Biden, anything but coy, has left little doubt that he wants the job.

Asked in May whether he would accept the vice-presidential slot, he said, “You’d have to consider it. I mean, how could you just blow it off?”

A month later, he was asked again. He first told Brian Williams of NBC on “Meet the Press,” “I am not interested in the vice presidency.” But with very little prodding, a moment later he said that if Mr. Obama asked him to be his running mate, “Of course I’ll say yes.”

Mr. Biden’s strengths and weaknesses as a vice-presidential nominee are glaringly obvious and in many cases overlap. At age 65, he would bring heft, knowledge and nearly four decades of experience in Washington to a ticket headed by a relative political newcomer. But that experience — he was first elected to the Senate at age 29 and has served for nearly four decades — would undercut Mr. Obama’s image as an agent of change.

Mr. Biden is among the best-informed lawmakers on international affairs, a gap in Mr. Obama’s résumé. But Mr. Biden’s broad knowledge, his committee chairmanship and his longtime membership in the most exclusive debating club in the nation also feed his biggest flaw: a verbosity and love of his own voice that drive many, including, by some accounts, Mr. Obama, nuts.

Mr. Biden supported the 2002 Iraq war resolution and thus is at odds with Mr. Obama, who opposed the war from the start and has made his judgment on the question a centerpiece of his campaign. But Mr. Biden tempered his support for the conflict by saying it should be limited to ending Iraq’s weapons programs, and he has been a sharp and persistent critic of the war’s conduct.

Last year, he said giving the Bush administration the authority to wage war was a mistake. “I regret my vote,” he told Politico, the politics Web site. “The president did not level with us.”

Mr. Biden’s appeal as a national candidate is suspect. His first bid for the presidency, beginning in 1987, famously flamed out after he was caught stealing passages from a speech by Neil Kinnock, the leader of the Labor Party in Britain at the time. His 2008 campaign never really got off the ground, little noticed in a field of well-financed candidates. He finished fifth in the Iowa caucuses, edging out “uncommitted.” He promptly dropped out and, diplomatically, declined to take sides in the slugfest between his Senate colleagues Mr. Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

After the primaries ended, he enthusiastically endorsed Mr. Obama, though Mr. Biden had offended many around Mr. Obama early in 2007 by describing him as “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.” If there were any hard feelings, they appear to have been forgotten.

Mr. Biden, normally among the most accessible of senators, declined to be interviewed for this article.

Despite his poor showing in the presidential race, Mr. Biden was generally thought to have acquitted himself well. His debate performances were uncharacteristically crisp, and he delivered two of the more memorable lines of the campaign.

Asked in an April 2007 debate whether he had the self-discipline to lead the free world, Mr. Biden answered, “Yes.”

The moderator, Mr. Williams, and the other candidates waited for a soliloquy in explanation, but Mr. Biden stood mute and smiling. The panelists and audience cracked up.

At another debate, in October, Mr. Biden lacerated former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York, a Republican, with a pithy one-liner: “There’s only three things he mentions in a sentence: a noun, a verb and 9/11.”

Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida, said Mr. Biden’s age was an asset, not a liability, particularly among many of his constituents in Florida, a perennial swing state. “You can’t do better than Joe Biden for vice president,” Mr. Nelson said. “He appeals to the kind of swing voters in Florida you have to have to win here because of his gravitas.”

Mr. Biden is a Roman Catholic who supports abortion rights. He grew up in a working-class family in Scranton, Pa., helping him with a group of voters that Mr. Obama had trouble attracting in the primaries.

Though his principal portfolio in the Senate now is foreign affairs, Mr. Biden has been chairman of the Judiciary Committee and oversaw the hearings on Robert H. Bork’s nomination to the Supreme Court. He has written a number of major crime and civil liberties bills and is popular among police groups and firefighters.

He also has a compelling personal history.

Between his election to the Senate in November 1972 and his swearing-in two months later, his wife, Neilia, and 13-month-old daughter, Naomi, were killed in a crash with a drunken truck driver. His two young sons suffered severe injuries but fully recovered. One, Beau, is now the attorney general of Delaware. The other, Hunter, is a lawyer in Washington.

He has a daughter, Ashley, by his second wife, Jill, whom he married five years after the accident. Mr. Biden has commuted home to Wilmington on Amtrak every night since he took office.

Mr. Biden also suffered cranial aneurysms in 1988 that almost killed him.

He is up for re-election this fall, against token opposition, so the worst outcome for him would be to continue as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee in a Senate that is likely to be more Democratic than the current one.

Friends and supporters of Mr. Biden say he would be an asset as a vice-presidential candidate and as vice president, provided that he could subordinate himself to a rookie senator nearly two decades younger.

“He would bring to any administration a tremendous credibility and talent,” said Richard C. Holbrooke, a former ambassador to the United Nations and a potential secretary of state in a Democratic administration. “He knows the world leaders, he knows the Congress, he knows the issues and he passes the first test — he’s qualified to be president. In the end, it’s just a question of personal chemistry and the choice of the nominee.”

from The New York Times article

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Biden to Abandon Presidential Bid

from the Associated Press

By BETH FOUHY – Jan 3, 2008
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Delaware Sen. Joe Biden abandoned his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination Thursday after a poor showing in the state’s caucuses.

“There is nothing sad about tonight. We are so incredibly proud of you all,” Biden told his supporters. “So many of you have sacrificed for me and I am so indebted to you. I feel no regret. I ain’t goin’ away.

“I want to thank the people of Delaware and I’ll be going back to the Senate as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,” he said.

The veteran lawmaker received less than 1 percent of the vote despite a spirited campaign in which he emphasized his international policy credentials and long career in public service.

Thursday night was a case of deja vu for Biden, who sought the Democratic presidential nomination 20 years ago — in 1988 — but left the race before the Iowa caucuses that year amid accusations that he had plagiarized from speeches by a British Labor Party leader.

This time, Biden campaigned extensively in Iowa, focusing on his plan for ending the Iraq war and the broad foreign policy experience he gained from more than 30 years in the Senate. Biden also noted the many time his rivals acknowledged agreeing with him.

His advisers had hoped for a fourth-place finish and thought even third place was possible.

Biden, 65, went to the Senate in 1973 after winning a race few expected him to. He was only 29, but turned 30 — the minimum age for service in the Senate — shortly thereafter.

In the years since, he has overcome personal tragedy and near death experiences.

Five weeks after his election, a station wagon driven by his wife, Neilia, was broadsided by a tractor-trailer in Delaware as she drove home with a family Christmas tree. She and the couple’s 18-month-old daughter, Naomi, were killed. Their two young sons, Beau and Hunter, were seriously injured.

Biden said at first that he no longer wanted the job he had just won, but Senate leaders persuaded him to assume his seat. He was sworn in from the hospital bedside of one his sons. It remains his habit not to work on Dec. 18.

In 1977, Biden married Jill Tracy Jacobs. They have a daughter, Ashley. Both of his sons are lawyers, and the elder son, Beau, was elected state attorney general of Delaware in November.

Biden himself had a close brush with death in February 1988, when he was hospitalized for two brain aneurysms. It was seven months before he could return to the Senate.

Biden voted to authorize the war in Iraq, but since has become one of Congress’ most vocal critics of the Bush administration’s handling of the war. He was the only Democrat in the presidential race who advocated partitioning Iraq as a means of ending the war and U.S. military involvement there.

He was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee from 1987 to 1995, and presided over two of the most contentious Supreme Court confirmation hearings, for Robert Bork in 1987 and for Clarence Thomas in 1991.

During his tenure on the Judiciary Committee, Biden wrote several anti-drug laws and the landmark Violence against Women Act of 2000, which contains a broad array of measures to combat domestic violence and gender-based crimes. Part of the law was later struck down as unconstitutional.

Biden is known for a tell-it-like-it-is speaking style that resonates with ordinary Americans, with a quick wit and colorful phrasings that have made him a sought-after guest for television and radio interviews. But he’s also developed a reputation as a long-winded publicity hound.

In one Democratic debate last year, Biden drew laughs when, commenting on Republican candidate Rudy Giuliani’s foreign policy experience, he said the former New York mayor’s message amounted to “a noun, a verb and 9/11.”

That Biden is regarded as a loquacious orator underscores how far he’s come from his roots in New Castle, Del., where he was teased by his classmates because he stuttered.

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