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VP Candidate Biden Takes Center Stage at Democratic Convention


Democratic vice presidential pick Joseph Biden will take center stage on the third day of the party's National Convention in the western U.S. city of Denver. The veteran senator from Delaware will be one of the headline speakers Wednesday night, along with former President Bill Clinton. As VOA Correspondent Cindy Saine reports from Denver, Democrats will turn their attention to foreign policy and national security issues Wednesday.

Joseph Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama's choice for running mate, is highly regarded by many lawmakers from both parties for his first-hand foreign policy knowledge and experience.

Ted Kaufman is a charter member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees Voice of America and other U.S. international broadcasting agencies. He is a close friend of Joseph Biden, and was his chief of staff in the Senate for 19 years. Kaufman told VOA that Biden brings decades of foreign policy expertise to the table, but that is not all.

"The biggest thing he brings to the ticket is he is qualified to be president of the United States," Kaufman noted. "Everybody when they talk about potential vice presidential candidates, they put them in different categories - here is one that can help the ticket by delivering a state, here is one that can help the ticket by delivering an interest group. But they always talk about Joe Biden. He is the one, who, if something happens to Barack Obama, he is qualified. And I think that what is says about Barack Obama, he is not in this thing to win this. He is in this to make America a better place, and a better place in the world."

What tone will Biden speech adopt?

Some analysts say the vice presidential candidate needs to take on the role of "attack dog" - to relentlessly go after the opponent from the other party. Larry Sabato, a political analyst and Director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, says the tone of this convention so far has been too "warm and fuzzy", and that Democrats need to use their four days in the spotlight to attack the presumptive Republican nominee John McCain and to tie him to President Bush.

"Biden should, and probably will go after John McCain and the Republicans hard. The convention delegates are expecting some red meat and they have gotten very little. So, he may in a sense help to rescue the convention, if he does a good job,' Sabato said. "If he does not, and it's a mild-mannered presentation, I think the delegates will leave very disappointed."

Bill Clinton also scheduled to speak, Wednesday

Also in the spotlight will be former President Bill Clinton, the husband of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, who lost the nomination fight in a long, tough race to Obama. Sabato says Bill Clinton has made clear he has not liked the way he believes the Obama campaign has treated his wife.

"Everyone is going to be measuring every word that Clinton says because it is very well known that he has been unhappy with Obama, some have said that he has been pouting," Sabato said. "He and his people have certainly been leaking quite a number of crucial comments from Clinton about Obama. So, his words will be weighed carefully. And, he will come through. He knows he is under the microscope. He will be very enthusiastic - while the cameras are on."

Senator Hillary Clinton issued an emphatic call for unity in the Democratic Party Tuesday night, and gave her disappointed supporters their marching orders to get behind Barack Obama.

"Whether you voted for me, or you voted for Barack, the time is now to unite as a single party with a single purpose. We are on the same team and none of us can afford to sit on the sidelines," said Clinton.

The former first lady also hit John McCain, saying voters cannot let him take the White House, and "squander the promise of our country." Next week, it will be the Republicans turn to go after Democrats at their National Convention in Minnesota.