Presidential hopeful Barack Obama unveiled seasoned senator Joe Biden as his running mate during a rally in Springfield, Illinois. During his first speech as vice-presidential candidate, Biden slammed McCain for being out of touch with voters.
Joseph Biden took to the stage as Democratic vice-presidential candidate here Saturday, ridiculing Republican John McCain as an out-of-touch acolyte of unpopular President George W. Bush.
Biden, a combative counterweight to presidential hopeful Barack Obama's more measured campaign style, wasted no time in subjecting McCain to a series of jibes, setting the scene for a bruising battle ahead of the November 4 election.
While describing McCain as an old friend, the pugnacious Biden condemned the Arizona senator for "giving in to the right wing of his party" and resorting to smear tactics against Obama.
Biden, 65, also pounced on McCain's confession this week to not knowing how many houses he owns, citing it as evidence that the Republican hopeful could not relate to the economic woes gripping voters.
"If your kitchen table is like mine, you sit there at night after you put the kids to bed and you talk about what you need. You talk about how much you are worried about being able to pay the bills," Biden said.
"Ladies and gentlemen, that is not a worry John McCain has to worry about. It's a pretty hard experience. He'll have to figure out which of the seven kitchen tables to sit at."
On a sweltering day, Obama returned to the same spot in Abraham Lincoln's hometown where he launched his White House quest to present Biden as his vice presidential pick before a rapturous crowd of 35,000.
Biden, Obama said, was chosen for his all-American statesman-like qualities after a months-long search for a leader who shared his passion to remake the United States.
"Above all, I searched for a leader who is ready to step in and be president," the Illinois senator said.
"Today, I have come back to Springfield to tell you that I've found that leader, a man with a distinguished record and a fundamental decency, Joe Biden," he said on the steps of the old state capitol here.
"Joe Biden is what so many others pretend to be -- a statesman with sound judgment who doesn't have to hide behind bluster to keep America strong," he said in a clear attack on McCain as well as President George W. Bush.
Obama recalled the launch of his own presidential candidacy from the same steps 19 months ago, and painted Biden, the chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, as an experienced but unconventional politician.
"He has stared down dictators and spoken out for America's cops and firefighters. He is uniquely suited to be my partner as we work to put our country back on track."
Biden received effusive praise from party leaders including Obama's vanquished nominating rival Hillary Clinton, who called the VP candidate "an exceptionally strong, experienced leader and devoted public servant."
McCain was complimentary about Biden but the Republican's camp argued the choice underlined Obama's own lack of experience.
With the temperature approaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37.8 degrees Celsius) in the blistering sun, Obama inadvertently introduced Biden as the "next president" before correcting it to vice president.
The McCain camp did not miss the slip.
"Barack Obama sounded as though he turned over the top spot on the ticket today to his new mentor, when he introduced Joe Biden as the next president," McCain spokesman Ben Porritt said.
But McCain himself, in a CBS News interview, said Obama had made a "very wise selection", describing Biden as a "very formidable" opponent.
Biden has twice run for the presidency himself, including a shot at the Democratic nomination this time around when he made some unflattering remarks about Obama's inexperience.
But any differences were buried as Obama reached out to a Catholic working-class son of Pennsylvania who may help him woo the kinds of conservative Democrats who rallied to Clinton during the primaries.
Date created : 2008-08-23