Score one for Obama!
Known for his verbal blunders, Sen. Joe Biden has blundered into the race of his life and most probably, of his near-ultimate dream. He may never be president but he may well become vice president.
His son, Joseph R. "Beau" Biden III, is the current Attorney General of Delaware and is now poised to become the next U.S. Senator from Delaware if his daddy and Obama successfully combat the negative campaigning by Sen. John McCain and his Rovian Republican staff running the show.
The first big decision by Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, to choose Joe Biden as his running mate is seen as a smart political move by most of the party faithful, excepting the small but vocal Hillary-supporters still holding a grudge.
It's a choice the Republicans cannot be pleased with since only Biden -- of all the veep possibilities -- possesses the gravitas, personality, and political savvy to land real blows in a campaign already noted for street fighting. He is exactly what Obama needs in a running mate.
Obama's decision is no big surprise to those of us who witnessed first-hand how close the Biden and Obama camps worked together during the first all-important Iowa caucuses that put the breaks on Sen. Clinton's 'inevitable' campaign, launched Obama's rise to the nomination and ended Biden's presidential ambitions.
Despite Biden and Obama denials prior to the Iowa caucus, when Joe was still struggling in single digits, Biden's senior staff had 'conversations' with the Obamacons and agreed that if Biden wasn't viable, then Biden supporters would line-up behind Obama. This is precisely what happened in numerous caucus meetings around the state.
Biden and his closest pols have always been partial to the Obama candidacy -- a sentiment not shared by the the Clinton and Edwards' camps, which were locked more closely in battle against Obama for the nomination. Obama and former Sen. John Edwards never knew each other personally and don't share a similar style, even if they share similar ambitions for the country. Obama and Hillary? Well, we all know there was no love lost there.
However, Biden liked Obama personally, admired his early stand against the Iraq War and, even more, respected the organization he had built with the smart young things running their first presidential campaign and raising money Joe couldn't match.
During the primary campaign and throughout the numerous debates prior to the Iowa caucuses, Biden and Obama didn't trade the elbow jabs and harsh rhetoric that swirled around the top tier candidates. While Obama, the new kid on the block, was busy ducking kidney punches from Edwards and Clinton, Biden was stage left, observing the bout -- as was his campaign staff.
Obama liked Biden, too and didn't forget the kindnesses Biden and his people extended while Biden was running. This may seem like a small thing but it isn't. Obama feels comfortable with Biden and he trusts him. Biden wont' be trying to run for the presidency if he's the sitting vice president. He'll be too old.
In cozy venues in wintry Iowa weather, Biden was the supreme raconteur decked out in flashy suits, loafers, and snappy ties as he drove around the frozen fields in SUVs donated by supporters, his campaign headquarters staffed mostly by energetic volunteers.
With his bouncy step, Biden would stride into a room and connect with small groups of voters. He brings a good counter-mix to Obama's big formal speechifying. There is hardly anyone better than Joe Biden in a small forum, his quick toothy smile, Irish humor, and wide range of policy knowledge inevitably wow audiences.
Biden speaks without notes, bloviating in the extreme, which is a risk Obama has decided to overlook for good reason. Joe Biden's got gravitas after serving 35 years in the U.S. Senate and as current Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He doesn't need to bone-up on issues. He's created most of them and has a voting record as a progressive Dem at least as long as Obama's three-point jumper. Biden fills the hole in Obama's foreign relations resume and then some.
A 'regular' guy who has traveled the world, Biden just loves to hear his own voice and to make cell phone calls to leaders around the globe.
The day I interviewed Biden in Ames, Iowa, he had just spoken to then-Pakistan President Musharraf, calling on him to resign as president and to secure the border with Iran or face the loss of millions of dollars in aid. Biden knows almost every foreign leader and he also knows what PKK means. He doesn't mix up his geography. He might not be the brightest bulb as an attorney but he's smart enough and tough enough for the game afoot.
Both Biden and Obama are attorneys, logical thinkers, diving deeply into policy issues, and nearly always arriving at the same conclusion. Both possess a breezy wit and contented self-confidence. They laugh easily and love to tease. They're warm hearted and like to press the flesh on the campaign trail.
Beyond this common intellectual and personality lock, there is a shared narrative; self-made, public servants, and children of working class parents. Both are fashionable, married to smart opinionated career women, and committed to their families.
Biden and Obama are Christians, though Biden would become the first Catholic vice president and could bring in the white, working class, Catholic voters that have eluded Obama during the primary -- and who were so critical to Bill Clinton's two White House wins.
Born and raised in Scranton, Pennsylvania, for the first twelve years of his life, Biden could bag the Keystone state, bringing it into the Blue column this November. It's a state crucial to a Dem victory in the general, which just so happens to include a large, white, Catholic voting block.
Although hailing from the smallest state in the Union, the only state Biden actually campaigned in for the primary was battleground Iowa, though his 1988 presidential campaign won die-hard followers. His loyalists in Iowa are jumping up and down over the pick and will rally around their Dem ticket, pumping up Obama's current lead.
What members of the press admire about Joe Biden is not just his political and personal history, but his revealing running motor mouth, his raging Irish anger and humor... and his thirst for blood in the water. He described former Mayor Giuliani as "A noun, a verb, and 9/11."
Ordinary Joe is no ordinary vice presidential pick -- predictable perhaps but not ordinary -- a fact that speaks well of Obama, demonstrating maturity and good sense.
Biden is a seasoned and wily political pro who loves to campaign, adores the crowds and relishes kicking opponents in the teeth. He will stand up to the ugliness the Karl Rove kids running McCain's campaign have recently set loose. And guess what? He won't need to read notes to do it.
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