Biden Is Obama's Pick for VP

Barack Obama has tapped Delaware Sen. Joe Biden as his vice presidential running mate. Biden has more than 35 years in the Senate and is a respected voice on international matters.
By Anne E. Kornblut, Michael D. Shear and Anita Kumar
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, August 23, 2008

CHICAGO, Aug. 22 -- Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), a two-time presidential candidate who has collected substantial foreign policy credentials in his three decades in the Senate, will be announced Saturday morning as Sen. Barack Obama's running mate, a Democratic source said Friday night.

The announcement of a running mate will come in a text message, Obama's campaign said. The presumptive Democratic nominee is then scheduled to introduce Biden Saturday afternoon at a rally in Springfield, Ill.

The word of Biden's selection came after Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine and Sen. Evan Bayh (Ind.) told supporters on Friday that they were not the pick, sources said. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) also was ruled out, an official close to Clinton said.

Planning meetings at Obama's Chicago headquarters have increasingly focused on Biden, sources said, and according to Democrats close to Kaine, Obama (Ill.) told the Virginia governor that Biden was his choice. One source close to the presumptive nominee had cautioned, though, "We may surprise you yet."

ABC News reported late Friday that the Secret Service had dispatched a protective detail to assume Biden's immediate protection, a further indication that Obama was looking Biden's way. Biden stayed out of public sight all day.

Obama himself acknowledged that he had made up his mind days ago, but the closely held information remained secret going into the weekend. None of the leading contenders were willing Friday to discuss publicly their talks with Obama.

"It really is amazing," marveled Thomas A. Daschle, the former Senate majority leader and a close Obama confidant. Daschle said even many senior Obama advisers had not been informed as of Friday morning -- and that he himself was still in the dark.

Obama called Kaine on Friday to tell him he would not be the choice, two sources close to the governor said.

"I guess we are not surprised, but we wouldn't have been surprised the other way," said Jinks Holton, Kaine's mother-in-law.

News crews staked out the homes of those believed to be on the short list, including Biden, Kaine, Bayh and even Rep. Chet Edwards (Tex.), a conservative Democrat and latecomer to the guessing game.

In Kansas, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius declined to say whether she had heard from Obama recently, saying it will be "exciting news" when the choice is made public.

Convention planners released a schedule of events showing that Sebelius will hold a kickoff press briefing Sunday morning in Denver, not exactly the kind of activity a vice presidential candidate would be expected to participate in.

Speculation also swirled around Clinton as one of her supporters said that she had not been officially vetted by the Obama campaign, despite Obama's repeated statements that she "would be on anybody's short list." Clinton was informed at the highest levels that she had not made the cut, sources said.

Clinton was not asked for the paperwork associated with being vetted and did not interview for the job; senior Obama advisers countered that she had been vetted in public over the course of the campaign and her decades in political life. But Obama advisers also have made no secret of their reluctance to consider Clinton all along.

On a day in which speculation about Obama's choice reached a fever pitch, reporters culled every source for news of the pick, even tracing the tail numbers on private planes scheduled to head from the home states of some of the contenders to Chicago on Saturday morning. A Kansas City television station reported that "Obama-Bayh '08" stickers were being mass-produced at a local factory. The scheduled appearances on Sunday's morning talk shows offered other potential clues: Kaine is slotted to appear on "Fox News Sunday." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top booster of the idea of adding Edwards to the ticket, will appear on "Meet the Press."

Biden, 65, has served 36 years in the Senate and chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, on which Obama also sits, and has been a longtime chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He also has shown on numerous occasions a difficulty in maintaining the kind of message discipline at which Obama has excelled.

Perhaps the most notable example of that came in January 2007, when Biden announced his second candidacy for president. Rather than spending the day boasting of his qualifications, Biden spent much of it extricating himself from remarks he made about Obama, having called him "the first mainstream African American [presidential candidate] who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy."

Meanwhile, at home in Arizona, Sen. John McCain (R) predicted that the Democratic convention will produce a huge bump for his rival, part of an ongoing effort to raise expectations for Obama's historic nomination.

In a memo from one of its top strategists, McCain's campaign predicted that "Obama will see a significant bump, and believe it is reasonable to expect nearly a 15-point bounce out of a convention in this political environment."

McCain's campaign is trying to raise expectations to a point Obama can't possibly reach. But the memo gave some backing for the idea of a big Obama bump, citing a 16-point bump that Bill Clinton got after his 1992 convention and a 10-point bump for Jimmy Carter in 1976.

On CBS's "Early Show," Obama said this about his pick: "Obviously, the most important question is, is this person prepared to be president? Second-most-important question, from my perspective, is: Can this person help me govern? Are they going to be an effective partner in creating the kind of economic opportunity here at home and guiding us through some dangerous waters internationally? And the third criteria for me, I think, was independence. I want somebody who is going to be able to challenge my thinking and not simply be a yes-person when it comes to policymaking."

Kumar reported from Richmond. Staff writers Dan Balz, in Denver, and Tim Craig, in Richmond, contributed to this report.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company