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Biden Brings Brawn to Democratic US Presidential Ticket


Senator Joe Biden's selection as Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama's vice presidential running mate brings solid foreign policy and other Senate experience to the ticket. Experts say the Delaware senator's working class roots will help Obama among crucial Democratic Party voting blocs. VOA's Jeffrey Young has this profile of the Delaware senator.

When Democrats put the spotlight on presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama at their Denver convention this week, Senator Joe Biden will be sharing the attention as his running mate.

Obama announced the news Saturday in Springfield, Illinois. "It is time for the change that the American people need," he said. "Now with Joe Biden at my side, I am confident that we can take this country in a new direction."

To political analysts, the Obama campaign had several strategic reasons for adding Joe Biden.

Vice presidential scholar, Professor Robert Dudley at George Mason University [in Virginia] says Biden could effectively counter a strong point of Republican White House contender Senator John McCain. "Well, Biden brings to the ticket foreign policy experience, foreign policy experience that matches McCain's foreign policy experience," Dudley said.

Biden is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee. He has been on the panel more than a decade. Several weeks ago, Biden went to the Republic of Georgia to see, firsthand, the impact of that nation's conflict with the Russia.

Analysts say another important reason for picking Biden as vice president is the key northeast industrial states such as Pennsylvania and Ohio. Obama lost those states to Hillary Clinton and needs them to have a chance of winning in November.

At American University in Washington, DC, Professor Allan Lichtman says, "He (Biden) is also kind of a lunch bucket [blue collar] Democrat with appeal to the white working class voters that Barack Obama has not really sewn up as [of] yet," Lichtman said.

Joe Biden has represented the Mid-Atlantic state of Delaware for 36 years. Along with his Foreign Affairs Committee experience, he has also served as Chariman and a senior member of the Judiciary Committee, which votes on nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Biden was born 65 years ago in the working class city of Scranton, Pennsylvania. He was only 29 years old when first elected to the Senate in 1972. Shortly after that election, an auto accident shattered his personal life.

"When my wife and daughter were killed, I came home from the hospital [with] my two sons [who] were badly injured," Biden said. "And, my sister and her husband had given up their apartment, without being asked, and moved into my home, [and] helped me raise my children."

Biden married his second wife, Jill, a college professor, about 20 years ago.

Senator Biden's first attempt to win the Democratic presidential nomination was in 1988. His campaign was cut short when one of his speeches was said to have been copied from a British lawmaker. Biden concentrated on his Senate work and made no further presidential bids until last year, when he jumped again into the ring.

Biden carried his strong foreign policy opinions over to the series of candidate debates held before the January Iowa Caucuses. Here in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania last October, he blasted the Bush Administration's "War on Terror" for its effects not only in Iraq, but also across the Islamic world.

"We have now driven underground every moderate in Pakistan and in Afghanistan," Biden said. "This literally puts [Afghan President Hamid] Karzai as well as [Pakistani President Pervez] Musharraf in jeopardy."

But in the first electoral contest, the Iowa Caucuses, Joe Biden was soundly bested by Barack Obama, winning only one percent against Obama's 38 percent. Biden ended his campaign the next day.

But last Saturday, in Springfield, Illinois, any lingering hard feelings melted away as Biden stood with Obama to be part of the Democratic Party's ticket.

"Today in Springfield, I know my feet are in the right place," Biden said. "And, I am proud to stand firm with the next president of the United States of America, Barack Obama."

From now until election day, November 4, Senators Obama and Biden have linked their fortunes to each other, and of course, to the voters who will decide the next occupant of the White House and his Vice President.