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Obama Advisor Provides Details on Vice Presidential Selection

A senior advisor to presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama says the party's ticket has been strengthened by the selection of Senator Joe Biden for vice president. VOA's Michael Bowman reports from Washington, Obama named Biden as his running mate two days before the start of the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado.

The choice of running mate is, arguably, the most important decision a presidential candidate must make before the election, one that provides hints as to how the potential commander-in-chief would make decisions and ultimately govern the nation, if elected.

Barack Obama has tapped Delaware Senator Joe Biden, who has served for six consecutive terms and is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

A senior Obama advisor, Robert Gibbs, says Biden fulfills the most important duty of a vice president: the ability to serve as president should the need arise.

"Senator Biden has unparalleled foreign policy experience. We [the Obama campaign] hired him for his judgment to lead this country, if something happens to Barack Obama, and the judgment and the advice that he will give to the next president of the United States. And, we think we have a fabulous pick. We have got someone who has not forgotten where they are from, and someone who can help rebuild this country," said Gibbs, who was speaking on the Fox News Sunday television program.

Polls show Americans generally view Obama as the candidate who most represents change and a break from the status quo. But polls also show a majority of Americans view his Republican rival, John McCain, as more experienced and better equipped to serve as commander-in-chief.

Since Saturday, numerous political analysts have commented that Biden helps counteract Obama's perceived weakness on governance, but that, as someone who has served in Congress for more than three decades, Biden also blunts Obama's overriding message of bringing change to Washington.

Already, the McCain campaign has released advertisements pointing out instances during the primary season in which Biden, suggested Obama lacked the experience needed to be president. Biden was competing with Obama and others for the Democratic nomination at the time, but dropped out of the race early on. McCain ads have also attacked Obama for passing over his fiercest primary rival, New York Senator Hillary Clinton, for the vice presidential slot.

Former New York Mayor Rudi Giuliani, who competed against John McCain in the Republican primaries, echoed that message on ABC's This Week program.

"Senator Obama has made a choice more out of weakness than strength. It is quite clear [that] the strong choice would have been Hillary Clinton. The obvious choice would have been Hillary Clinton. She had 50 percent of the Democratic vote [in the primaries]; Obama had 50 percent of the Democratic vote," said Giuliani.

Recent polls show roughly one-in-five who voted for Clinton in the primaries favor McCain over Obama, despite repeated Clinton statements urging her supporters to rally behind the presumptive Democratic nominee.

Whether the Democrats can unite as a party during this week's national convention after a bruising primary season remains to be seen. Obama's chief strategist, David Axelrod, gave a preview of the core message that will be heard at the convention, beginning with Obama's personal story.

"The son of a single mother, working his way up, and then going back to work in communities that were felled by steel plant closings, we are going to tell that story. But we are also going to tell the story about what has happened to the country under the policies we have seen under the broken politics of Washington. We are not going to shy away from making a contrast," said Axelrod.

The Republican National Convention begins next week. The McCain campaign has hinted that the Arizona Senator could name his running mate as early as this Friday, the day after the close of the Democratic National Convention.