Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama's selection of Sen. Joe Biden to be his running mate reached a pivotal point in a secret meeting on the night of Aug. 6. Sen. Biden was whisked into a Minneapolis hotel room through a back entrance before Sen. Obama left for his Hawaii vacation. They talked one-on-one for 90 minutes. "It was spirited and pragmatic," says one adviser who was briefed.
The rendezvous capped weeks of pitching by Biden advisers. It culminated in Sen. Obama's formal announcement by text message around 3 a.m. Saturday that Sen. Biden was the choice, and led to the big question that now looms over the choice: Will a 35-year veteran of Washington help or hurt a political newcomer running on a message of "change"?
When the Obama campaign's vice-presidential vetters sought financial statements, political speeches and medical records, Sen. Biden's team turned the grueling task into an opportunity to sell their man. Their most obvious pitch was his strong experience in foreign policy at a time of crisis, one of Sen. Obama's biggest weak spots with voters. Sen. Biden's foreign-policy director traveled with Sen. Obama to Iraq and Afghanistan during his overseas tour in late July, giving the presidential contender a close-up sense of the expertise the Biden circle could provide.