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Biden: bringing experience to the campaign

Text by Leela JACINTO

Latest update : 2008-10-24

Veteran Democrat Senator Joseph Biden adds experience and knowledge of foreign affairs to the Obama ticket in the run-up to the US presidential elections. But will Biden convince voters he can bring change to the White House?

View our special report on the race to the White House.


Charismatic, with a feisty personality and a reputation for talking more than what is deemed politically prudent, Joe Biden brings experience to the 2008 Obama campaign.


Barack Obama’s running mate has the sort of experience that critics say the senator from Illinois lacks.


The 65-year-old senator from Delaware entered politics when Obama was only 11. A 36-year veteran of the Senate, Biden heads the influential Senate Foreign Relations Committee and has a wealth of foreign policy experience.


In the lead-up to his August 23 announcement, Obama listed the traits he was looking for in a running mate. “I want somebody who is capable of being president, and who I would trust to be president. That’s the first criteria for vice-president,” said Obama. “I want to have my vice-president engineering my foreign policy for me.”


Obama can rest assured that Biden has what it takes to go toe-to-toe with the senior Republican presumptive nominee, John McCain.


Biden has chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee three times, and though he voted for the Iraq war, he was one of the very early American politicians to warn of the costs of a long term US occupation in Iraq.


C'mon! He's a phenomenon


Born in 1942 in Scranton, Pennsylvania to an Irish-Catholic family, Biden’s combative personality balances Obama’s cool, measured style.


In the past, his outspoken quips have not spared Obama. During the 2008 primary season, Biden infamously referred to Obama as ''the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean'' – a condescending remark that raised an outcry from black voters.


But that is history now - as is his failed 1988 White House bid. The senator from Delaware had to drop out of the race after he admitted plagiarising a speech by Neil Kinnock, the then British Labour Party leader.


Like most top-grade, senior politicians, Biden has managed to ride out that political hitch.


Apologizing for his “bright and clean” remark about Obama, Biden was extravagant in his praise for the younger Democratic senator.


"What I was attempting to be - but not very artfully - was complimentary," he told ‘The Daily Show,’ a popular US TV programme. "This is an incredible guy, c'mon! He's a phenomenon," said Biden.


Biden is now going to have to put his strong verbal endorsement to good use in the critical months to come.

Date created : 2008-08-23