Biden makes debut as running mate

August 24, 2008 6:15:36 AM PDT
Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware made his debut as Barack Obama's running mate, criticizing Republican John McCain as a captive to the "right wing of his party" who is insensitive to woes facing middle-class Americans.Obama introduced Biden, one of the Senate's most senior members, as "a leader ready to step in and be president" who could give Americans plenty of straight talk.

"For decades, he has brought change to Washington, but Washington hasn't changed him," Obama said Saturday. "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."

Biden was quick to attack. McCain will have to "figure out which of the seven kitchen tables to sit at" when considering his own economic future, Biden said. It was a reference to McCain's recent inartful admission - in a time of economic uncertainty - that he was not sure how many homes he owns.

"I must tell you, frankly, I've been disappointed in my friend, John McCain, who gave in to the right wing of his party and yielded to the very swiftboat politics that he so - once so deplored," Biden added. "You can't change America, you can't change America when you know your first four years as president will look exactly like the last eight years of George Bush's presidency."

In an interview with CBS News, McCain called Biden a "wise selection" who will be formidable. But McCain remained critical of the Obama-Biden ticket on foreign policy, citing disagreements with Biden's decision to vote against the first Gulf War as well as his position that Iraq should be divided "into three different countries."

Democrats coalesced quickly around the 47-year-old Obama's selection of Biden, a seasoned Senate veteran who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee - a choice meant to provide foreign policy heft to the party's ticket for the fall campaign against McCain.

The 65-year-old emerged as Obama's choice after a secretive selection process that reviewed at least a half-dozen contenders - but evidently not Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former first lady who was Obama's tenacious Democratic rival.

McCain holds a 2-1 lead over Obama as more knowledgeable on world affairs and as better suited to be commander-in-chief, according to an ABC News-Washington Post poll released early Sunday. The same poll, which gave Obama a slight 49 percent to 43 percent lead, found that three-fourths said the addition of Joe Biden as Obama's running mate would make no difference in their vote, while the remainder were evenly split on whether it would make them more or less likely to vote for Obama.

The Democratic National Convention opens Monday in Denver to nominate him as president and Biden as vice president.

McCain's convention opens on Labor Day in St. Paul, Minn. He has yet to select a running mate.