Biden pick bolsters Obama on foreign policy, national security

ByABC News
August 23, 2008, 11:54 AM

DENVER -- The candidate who clinched the Democratic presidential nomination with a message of change has turned to a six-term senator and Washington insider for his running mate.

Barack Obama's choice of Delaware Sen. Joe Biden as the Democratic vice presidential nominee instantly bolsters the ticket's credentials on foreign policy, an area where Obama's background is limited. Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is one of Congress' most knowledgeable and respected voices on national security.

A week ago, for instance, Biden visited Tbilisi, Georgia, at the request of Georgia president Mikheil Saakashvili as he sought to respond to Russia's invasion.

Still, some supporters who were drawn by Obama's promise to shake up politics-as-usual might have preferred a running mate less steeped in Washington's ways. Obama was 12 years old when Biden won election to the Senate in 1972, where he has served ever since. Unlike Obama, Biden accepted contributions from political action committees for his presidential bid.

Other contenders for the No. 2 spot such as Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine or Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius would have done more to reinforce Obama's outsider message. Kaine and Sebelius also would have brought experience to the ticket as chief executives.

There's also Biden's well-known tendency to talk too much. The beginning of his second presidential bid was roiled in February 2007 when he described Obama as the first black presidential candidate "who is articulate and bright and clean." (He called Obama to make sure the comment hadn't caused offense.) Biden's 1988 presidential bid was cut short after he borrowed without attribution some lofty language from Neil Kinnock, a British politician.

Within hours of Obama's announcement of his choice delivered by text message to millions of supporters Republican John McCain's campaign released a TV ad that shows Biden in a Democratic debate during the primaries questioning Obama's readiness for the White House. He said he stood by his statement that Obama "can be ready but right now, I don't believe he is."