- Title: USA: Biden brings experience, verbal gaffes to Democratic ticket
- Date: 2nd November 2008
- Summary: (W1) TBILISI, GEORGIA (AUGUST 17, 2008) (REUTERS) SENATOR JOE BIDEN, THE CHAIRMAN OF THE SENATE FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE, ARRIVING AND GREETING U.S. AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT WORKERS AID SUPPLIES ON TARMAC VARIOUS OF SENATOR JOE BIDEN SPEAKING TO U.S. AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT WORKERS
- Embargoed: 17th November 2008 12:00
- Location: Usa
- Country: USA
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA39HK7XCBIFWZIUPY4UI8WTBS3
- Story Text: Senator Joe Biden brings foreign policy credentials and working class roots to Obama campaign.
Senator Joe Biden was introduced as Barack Obama's running mate shortly before the Democratic convention in August. The pick was largely viewed as a prudent one for the junior senator from Illinois, whose detractors have asserted that Obama's lack of foreign policy experience makes him poorly prepared for the presidency.
Biden, a seasoned senator from Delaware who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, adds balance -- if not gravitas -- to the Democratic ticket. Among Democrats, the wisdom of the Biden selection was contrasted all the more by the choice of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to join Senator John McCain on the Republican critic. Palin has been derided among as having a naive foreign policy view.
Biden comes from working class roots in northeastern Pennsylvania and in Delaware. That background offers further balance on the campaign ticket against Obama's Hawaii to Harvard life-story which has been portrayed by the McCain campaign as elitist.
During the war in Bosnia, Biden was a strong advocates for action to protect Bosnian Muslims. He supported the lifting of the U.N. arms embargo so Bosnia Muslims could defend themselves, and for increased NATO air strikes against Serbian national troops.
Biden was elected to the Senate in 1972 and has been re-elected four times since. Besides his seat at the top of the Foreign Relations Committee, Biden also has a senior position on the influential Judiciary Committee. He competed against Obama for the presidential nomination earlier this year, and his attempt at the nomination in 1987 sputtered out prematurely when it was learned that the phrases within some of speeches were strikingly similar to those uttered by U.K. Labor Party leader Neil Kinnock.
Biden married Neilia Hunter in 1966 while he was in law school. The couple had three children -- a daughter and two sons. Six weeks after being elected to the Senate, his wife and infant daughter were killed in a car accident that also left his two sons critically injured. He almost resigned the Senate post but was persuaded not to by the majority leader. Biden took the oath of office at the bedside of one of his sons. Biden no longer drives a car. Since that day, he has commuted by train the 90 minute trip from Delaware to Washington.
Biden recalled that moment during the vice-presidential debate against Palin, choking back tears.
Biden met married his second wife, school teacher Jill Tracy Jacobs in 1977. They have a daughter. Biden's sons recovered. One is the Delaware attorney general and an attorney in the Army National Guard, who has been called up for service in Iraq.
McCain and Biden have been friends for decades -- but in this election, Biden has not withheld sharp criticism of his political rival.
"When you're drowning, you've got to try a new method to stay above the water. And John McCain's offering nothing new. And that's why I think John McCain's campaign is becoming so erratic. Political stunts instead of offering significant solutions," Biden said at a recent campaign event in Ohio.
Known for his affable and garrulous nature, Biden has caused problems for himself with occasional verbal gaffes.
At a recent private fundraiser, Biden said America's enemies would challenge Obama within the first six months of his presidency to "test his mettle." The McCain campaign pounced on the remark, saying such talk was akin to inviting a crisis. Obama dismissed Biden statement as a "rhetorical flourish."
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