Text: Obama Announces Biden as Running Mate
Saturday, August 23, 2008; 3:48 PM
AUGUST 23, 2008
OBAMA: Nineteen months ago, on a cold February day right here on the steps of the Old State Capitol, I stood before you to announce my candidacy for President of the United States of America.
We started this journey with a simple belief: that the American people were better than their government in Washington - a government that has fallen prey to special interests and policies that have left working people behind. As I've travelled to towns and cities, farms and factories, front porches and fairgrounds in almost all fifty states - that belief has been strengthened. Because at this defining moment in our history - with our nation at war, and our economy in recession - we know that the American people cannot afford four more years of the same failed policies and the same old politics in Washington. We know that the time for change has come.
For months, I've searched for a leader to finish this journey alongside me, and to join in me in making Washington work for the American people. I searched for a leader who understands the rising costs confronting working people, and who will always put their dreams first. A leader who sees clearly the challenges facing America in a changing world, with our security and standing set back by eight years of a failed foreign policy. A leader who shares my vision of an open government that calls all citizens - Democrats, Republicans and Independents - to a common purpose. Above all, I searched for a leader who is ready to step in and be President.
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.
Joe Biden is that rare mix - for decades, he has brought change to Washington, but Washington hasn't changed him. He's an expert on foreign policy whose heart and values are rooted firmly in the middle class. 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.
Now I could stand here and recite a list of Senator Biden's achievements, because he is one of the finest public servants of our time. But first I want to talk to you about the character of the man standing next to me.
Joe Biden's many triumphs have only come after great trial.
He was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania. His family didn't have much money. Joe Sr. worked different jobs, from cleaning boilers to selling cars, sometimes moving in with the in-laws or working weekends to make ends meet. But he raised his family with a strong commitment to work and to family; to the Catholic faith and to the belief that in America, you can make it if you try. Those are the core values that Joe Biden has carried with him to this day. And even though Joe Sr. is not with us, I know that he is proud of Joe today.
It might be hard to believe when you hear him talk now, but as a child he had a terrible stutter. They called him Bu-bu-Biden. But he picked himself up, worked harder than the other guy, and got elected to the Senate - a young man with a family and a seemingly limitless future.
Then tragedy struck. Joe's wife Neilia and their little girl Naomi were killed in a car accident, and their two boys were badly hurt. When Joe was sworn in as a Senator, there was no ceremony in the Capitol - instead, he was standing by his sons in the hospital room where they were recovering. He was 30 years old.
Tragedy tests us - it tests our fortitude and it tests our faith. Here's how Joe Biden responded. He never moved to Washington. Instead, night after night, week after week, year after year, he returned home to Wilmington on a lonely Amtrak train when his Senate business was done. He raised his boys - first as a single dad, then alongside his wonderful wife Jill, who works as a teacher. He had a beautiful daughter. Now his children are grown and Joe is blessed with five grandchildren. He instilled in them such a sense of public service that his son, Beau, who is now Delaware's Attorney General, is getting ready to deploy to Iraq. And he still takes that train back to Wilmington every night. Out of the heartbreak of that unspeakable accident, he did more than become a Senator - he raised a family. That is the measure of the man standing next to me. That is the character of Joe Biden.