Saturday, August 23, 2008

Biden to be running mate of Obama

DEMOCRAT PRESIDENTIAL candidate today ended speculations over his running mate for 2008 presidential elections. Barack Obama has chosen Delaware Senator, an experienced politician, Joe Biden as his vice presidential running mate. This pick is designed to shore up the Illinois senator’s foreign policy credentials in advance of the November election against John McCain, as confirmed by a Democratic source. Biden had been considered the front-runner for the job in recent weeks, a position confirmed by a last-minute, unscheduled trip last weekend to meet the Georgian President.

News of the pick was reported in advance of Obama’s campaign plan, which is scheduled for Saturday. The announcement was given out to supporters via email and text message. Biden ’s selection ended a two-month search that was conducted almost entirely in secret.

First elected to the Senate in 1972 at the age of 29, Biden has not been seriously challenged since then which is a reflection of the Democratic roots of the state and Biden’s skillfulness as a politician. Biden was born in Scranton, grew up in the suburbs of Wilmington, Delaware, and went to Syracuse Law School. He also was, as a young man, in the centre of a gripping family drama. Barely a month after he was elected to the Senate, his wife and their three children were in a car accident with a drunken driver which resulted in the death of his wife and a daughter. His two sons survived and Biden remarried five years later.

Long rumoured as a candidate for national office, Biden launched a presidential bid in 1987 that was gaining traction until a video was leaked to the press that showed striking similarities between a speech by Biden and an address by British Labour Party politician Neil Kinnock. Biden sought to beat back the controversy but subsequent allegations about plagiarism and resume inflation in law school forced him from the contest.

Biden was subsequently stricken in early 1988 by a brain aneurysm from which he recovered fully. Once his health improved, Biden threw himself back into the day to day working of the Senate where he chaired the high profile Judiciary Committee from 1987 until 1995. In that role, he chaired the controversial Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas. Biden has also served several stints as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a perch from which he has emerged as one of the leading voices in the Democratic Party on foreign policy matters.

Two decades after his first bid for presidency, Biden tried again in 2007 but could not gain momentum due to the presence of both Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton in the contest but acquitted himself well in the eyes of the Democratic establishment. Biden proved that the charisma that had recommended him as a rising star in the 1980s was still very much part of his political portfolio; he also excelled in the myriad debates held among the Democratic aspirants during the primary season.

For Obama, the Biden pick is a sign that he and his campaign believe that foreign policy matters will be the front and centre issues in the fall election. Biden brings the Democratic ticket immediate gravitas on issues ranging from the war in Iraq to the ongoing conflict between Russia and Georgia.

McCain’s campaign shows that he believes Obama’s experience in public life ill suits him to handle the complex world situation into which the next president will immediately step. Biden, a serious politician with a far deeper resume than Obama, will complicate, if not entirely blunt, Republican attacks on Obama’s suitability for top post.

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