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  Biden Camp Pressed Hard For a Slot on the Ticket
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ContributorScottĀ³ 
Last EditedScottĀ³  Aug 25, 2008 10:12am
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CategoryNews
MediaNewspaper - Wall Street Journal
News DateMonday, August 25, 2008 04:00:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionWall Street Journal.

"Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama's selection of Sen. Joe Biden to be his running mate reached a pivotal point in a secret meeting on the night of Aug. 6. Sen. Biden was whisked into a Minneapolis hotel room through a back entrance before Sen. Obama left for his Hawaii vacation. They talked one-on-one for 90 minutes. "It was spirited and pragmatic," says one adviser who was briefed.

The rendezvous capped weeks of pitching by Biden advisers. It culminated in Sen. Obama's formal announcement by text message around 3 a.m. Sat. that Sen. Biden was the choice, and led to the big question that now looms over the choice: Will a 35-year veteran of Washington help or hurt a political newcomer running on a message of "change"?

As a 2008 pres. candidate, Sen. Biden got less than 1% of the delegates in the opening January Iowa caucus, and dropped out of the race quickly. But as a candidate to be Sen. Obama's running mate, the veteran Delaware senator outcampaigned rivals by successfully arguing that his benefits outweighed some considerable baggage.

When the Obama campaign's vice-presidential vetters sought financial statements, political speeches & medical records, Sen. Biden's team turned the grueling task into an opportunity to sell their man. Their most obvious pitch was his strong experience in foreign policy at a time of crisis, one of Sen. Obama's biggest weak spots with voters. Sen. Biden's foreign-policy director traveled with Sen. Obama to Iraq & Afghanistan during his overseas tour in late July, giving the presidential contender a close-up sense of the expertise the Biden circle could provide.

But Biden allies also labored hard to turn one of his potential liabilities -- his long career in Washington -- into a strength. Point one: Sen. Biden took the train out of Washington almost every night to go home to Delaware. Two: his humble roots, as the son of a car dealer in Scranton, Pa., a pivotal state for Democrats.
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