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Ridin' That Train Ridin' That Train

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Ridin' That Train

"An emotional" Joe Biden told members of the DE delegation on 8/26 a.m. that "the honor of being tapped" as Barack Obama's VP nominee "pales in comparison" to the "feelings he has for the people" of DE.

At the delegation's breakfast, Biden also "thanked the small contingent of delegates for helping him and his family through tragedy." Biden: "I wish we could have done this in private, because you know, I don't know whether I would have made it through a lot of the tough times in my life without you guys. You're a big deal. The Democratic Party's been my home. The Delaware Democratic Party has been my family."


Biden "joked that the only reason he accepted the VP nod was 'so the Delaware delegation could be moved up front.'" He said he's used to operating as a "one-man band," but that he was "happy to be part of a team, praising the Obamas for the welcome they've felt." In particular, Biden "said that Michelle Obama's speech last night would be remembered years from now as a turning point in the campaign." Biden: "Not Barack Obama, not Joe Biden, not Ted Kennedy, but Michelle Obama's speech. She gave a window to the American people into who she is and what she is and what really goes through her brain. And it was absolutely just incredible and I promise you, it's real" (Memoli, NBC/National Journal, 8/26).

Yesterday, Biden "made his debut appearance" in Denver, "as he rushed to integrate himself into" the Obama camp.

Joined by his daughter, wife, brother and two sons, Biden "staged a photo op in downtown Denver, buying pulled pork sandwiches and lemonade at Boney's Smokehouse and shaking hands among a crowd of more than 100, along with more than 50 reporters."


The lunch outing "and a planned appearance" on the convo floor "were Biden's only real campaign activities of the day." On 8/24, Biden was "huddled at his home" in DE with Obama strategist David Axelrod, working "on his speech."

Before flying to Denver, Biden made an appearance at the Wilmington, DE, "Amtrak station that the Obama campaign has worked hard to make part of the narrative surrounding Biden in recent days." Once in Denver, Biden "greeted Obama's staff formally for the first time during a conference call" (Bacon/Saslow, Washington Post, 8/26).

Biden shouted outside During his stop outside Boney's Smokehouse, Biden shouted: "Hey, everybody."

Biden "has never been known for being short on words, but that was before he was named" Obama's running mate (McCormick, "The Swamp," Chicago Tribune, 8/25).


Come All Ye Faithful

While supporters say Biden "provides a crucial link with Catholic voters," others say he "reprises an unwelcome debate over abortion and Communion." While disagreeing with "his church's stance on abortion, Biden is known for supporting other key tenets of Catholic teachings." Shortly after Biden was picked, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver told the AP: "I presume that his integrity will lead him to refrain from presenting himself for Communion, if he supports a false 'right' to abortion."

Time editor Amy Sullivan: "Something tells me that if church leaders give Biden grief over his abortion record, he'll give it right back" (Banks, Religion News Service, 8/25).

New York Post's Marlin writes, "How will Biden reconcile his pro-abortion views with these Church teachings? He can't use the old Mario Cuomo defense -- I personally oppose abortion, but can't impose my views on society. He'd come into direct conflict with Obama" (8/26).

Car Troubles

Biden "wasted no time" 8/25 "hitting" John McCain, saying he "does not fully support" the auto industry's bid for $50B in gov't loans. Biden said in a statement: "John McCain has not only opposed these much-needed loans for our domestic automakers, he has openly criticized and shown disdain for them. ... His recent statements have shown once again that he is not only out of touch with American workers, but that he isn't being candid about what he does and doesn't support."

McCain said 8/22 "that he supported funding" for the $25B "in loans that Congress approved last year as part of a broader energy bill, saying such loans would help automakers and suppliers 'through this difficult time of transition.'" Responding to Biden's comments, McCain spokesperson Leah Yoon said: "Sen. Biden has repeatedly said that Barack Obama does not have the experience necessary to be president, and that is evident in Obama's refusal to support an 'all of the above' approach to solving our country's current energy crisis" (Hyde, Detroit Free Press, 8/26).

The Senator's Son

The AP is now reporting on Biden's son Hunter receiving "an undisclosed amount of money as a consultant" for MBNA, during the years Biden "supported legislation that was promoted by the credit card industry and opposed by consumer groups." MBNA's consulting payments to H. Biden, which were first reported by the New York Times, followed his departure in '01 "from the company, where he had been" an exec.

Obama spokesperson David Wade said that "after working in the Clinton administration in the Department of Commerce on Internet privacy and online commerce issues, Hunter consulted for five years as an expert on these very same issues at a time of enormous expansion in online banking. ... He was not a lobbyist for MBNA, and his work had absolutely nothing to do with the bankruptcy bill. Zero. Nothing."

Obama "opposed the bankruptcy law," while Biden "supported it" (Yost, AP, 8/25).

New Hires

Biden's "senior staff" is thus far "made up of two long-time lieutenants of Bill and Hillary Clinton," an ex-spokesperson for Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), and an ex-aide to Gov. Tim Kaine (D-VA).

The Obama camp "began planning an apparatus to staff the No. 2 pick" soon after Obama clinched the nom -- "a decision that was calculated to avoid problems that" happened in '04, "when Mr. Kerry's advisers felt they had less control than they wanted over his running mate."

The Obama camp tapped ex-Clinton CoS Patti Solis Doyle "to oversee the vice presidential operation." Ricki Seidman "is his new" comm. dir. "working largely out of campaign headquarters in Chicago."

David Wade is Biden's "traveling" press sec. He "was a long-time" spokesperson for Kerry and "his traveling spokesman during" the '04 "presidential campaign."

And Rick Siger is serving as trip dir., "a position he filled" for Kaine (Healy, New York Times, 8/25).

What Pundits Want

Biden Opinion Columns:

The Nation's Nichols writes in the Chicago Tribune, "After a weak midsummer performance by Obama, the scale was tipping McCain's way. But the scale may well tip back in a Democratic direction with Biden at Obama's side" (8/26).

Bloomberg's Carlson writes, "He doesn't bring a region, a voting bloc or special interest. He brings warmth, and years" (8/26).

American Enterprise Institute's Michael Rubin writes in the Washington Post, "Obama picked Biden for experience, but he might also have considered judgement. When it comes to Iran, Biden could stare down dictators; too bad he blinks" (8/26).

Wall Street Journal's Seib writes, Biden is "a safe and understandable choice, because he addresses many -- probably the most important -- of the shortcomings in Sen. Obama's own profile." That is to say his "national-security gap" ("Capital Journal," 8/25).

Columbia Journalism Review's Garber writes, "the real test of Biden-in-the-press, then, will come later, once the Delaware senator has divorced himself from the announcement of his being picked. Until then, it's all about the hype" (8/25).

Weekly Standard's Barnes writes in the Wall Street Journal, Biden's "popularity" in the DC "political community" ... helps explain "why his selection by Mr. Obama recieved such favorable reviews" (8/25).

Philadelphia Daily News' Leavy writes, "Obama passed this test with flying colors. O and Joe make a winning ticket" (8/26).

MD State Sen./ex-amb. Jim Rosapepe (D) writes in the Wall Street Journal, "Biden has better intitution about other politicians, American or foreign, than any elected official I've ever met (8/26).

Columbia Tribune's Waters writes, "I like Joe Biden, but I can't see how he gives Obama much of a boost or loss" (8/25).

Slate's Shafer explores Biden's '87 presidential campaign, during which he "plagiarized a leading British politician." The "only practical explanation for Biden's plagiarism is he guess that being Kinnock on the stump would be more compelling for his audience than merely citing him" (8/25).

Chicago Sun-Times' Huntley writes, Biden was "wrong on Iraq" four times (8/26).

Ex-Edwards adviser Joe Trippi: "How smart a pick was Joe Biden for Barack Obama? It depends on how Joe Biden handles the pressure cooker he just climbed into" (, 8/23).

Newspaper editorials:

Wall Street Journal editorializes, "In all of this he is a welcome contrast to Anthony Lake, Susan Rice and the other superdoves who populate Mr. Obama's national security councils" (8/25).

Philadelphia Daily News editorializes, "We can count on him to understand, first hand, the value of Amtrak" (8/25).

New Hampshire Union Leader editorializes, "What the Biden selection means is that Obama doesn't really believe all of his own rhetoric. It is an admission that experience matters, that age and wisdom do beat youth and inexperience, and that 'change' means not uprooting the culture in Washington, but simply electing Barack Obama President" (8/26).

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review editorializes, "the Biden selection presents plenty of exploitable baggage for the GOP" (8/26).

Philadelphia Inquirer editorializes, Biden, "tested hard by personal tragedy, is not a hollow man. He is thoughtful and funny -- less buttoned-up than the average politician, thus more interesting" (8/26).

Hartford Courant editorializes, Obama picking Biden "was pragmatic. It reflects well on his thinking process and decision-making" (8/26).

Portland Press Herald editorializes, Obama "missed an opportunity to signal that he was pushing for real change by selecting someone outside the usual Washington mix. And while Biden's past won't prove an embarrassment during the campaign, the same cannot be said with certainty about what the Delaware senator might say in the future" (8/26).

Providence Journal editorializes, Biden "seems a solid choice: smart, experienced, articulate, loyal, a passionate campaigner" (8/26).

The Oregonian editorializes, Obama "chose a man with a distinguished career who can be imagined as president, if he's ever called on to serve as one" (8/26).

The Good, The Bad, And The Disinterested

A collection of televised wisdom on Biden getting tapped for Obama's VP.

Dick Morris: "I think it's a mistake. I think that he chickened out. ... People look at the ticket and they say, hey, wait a minute, there's a really experienced senator who knows foreign policy running with a state senator who's been in the U.S. Senate for 200 weeks. Don't you think it should be the other way around?" ("O'Reilly Factor," FNC, 8/25).

McCain spokesperson Nicolle Wallace: "In Biden, what Obama did was hang a neon sign above his head that said, 'I'm not ready, I need help'" ("Hannity & Colmes," FNC, 8/25).

More Wallace: "I think you have to give Obama credit. He picked the person he needed. I don't know if he was up 15, like he was two months ago, if this would have been his selection. He may have chosen someone who could have highlighted his message of change. Not an expert in Democratic VP pick, but I think he picked the person that he thought could help him with his most perilous deficiency in the views of those independent voters" ("Race for the WH," MSNBC, 8/25).

Karl Rove: "I frankly think this pick is not going to wear well overall. Look, he's going to go out and say some goofy things on the campaign trail. I thought the way of introducing him by saying in essence he has the experience in foreign policy, the presidential candidate doesn't. He's got the record of achievement with the crime bill and violence against women act that is lacking in the presidential candidate, is bad. And then to loose him out there as attack dog. I mean, look, Obama has gotten where he has gotten, and he's secured the nomination by saying, 'I'm going to be something different.' And now he's looking very conventional in the pick of your vice president. ... That just does not yet sell well to the image that he wanted" ("Hannity & Colmes," FNC, 8/25).

FNC's O'Reilly: "I don't think Biden's going to get him any votes, but I don't think he loses any votes" ("O'Reilly Factor," 8/25).

Ex-Pres. Carter: "I think whatever [Obama] lacked in long-time experience, like 35 years in the Senate, he fully made up with Joe Biden, who is a superb choice" ("NewsHour," PBS, 8/25).

CBS' Katie Couric sat down with Caroline Kennedy and talked about the VP vetting process. Part of the interview appeared on "Early Show" this a.m.

C. Kennedy, on whether she told Obama that Biden would be the best pick for VP: "First of all, I think Senator Biden is just going to make a fantastic vice president, a fantastic campaigner, and I think Senator Obama was really looking for somebody with independent judgment, respected around the world [and] fighting for people here at home throughout his career. So I think we were all lucky that we got someone as great as Joe Biden to take it" (CBS, 8/26).

Random Quotes

Walter Mondale: Biden "would be the ideal person for the position. I just know this is going to work out" (Rice, New York Observer, 8/25).

Sec./State Condolezza Rice: "I will just say that Sen. Biden is obviously a very fine statesman. He's a true patriot" (Sisk, New York Daily News, 8/25).

WH spokesperson Tony Fratto: "It's a great honor anyone who has that opportunity to run in a national election like that, to aspire to represent the country; and so a very personal thing for him and his family. Obviously, we're -- we would be happy for him" (Youngman, The Hill, 8/25).

The New Cheney

While "being vetted," Biden "told his interviewers that he would have no problem serving as No. 2 as long as his views would be heard" by the pres. Obama vetter Eric Holder: "One of the things that we talked about with Senator Biden is his, what I think in some ways one of his greatest strengths, and that is his ability to really kind of cut to the quick. He is a no-nonsense speaker. And he indicated he was going to be quite comfortable with being vice president, the No. 2 person. His only thought was that he wanted to have from the president the notion that he would be heard."

Turning to H. Biden and his lobbying work, Holder "said the team found no issues associated" with H. Biden "being a lobbyist." Holder: "One of the things that Senator Biden has made clear throughout the years is that he has kept an appropriate wall up between he and his son, and we were satisfied that with the assurance he gave us and the vetting we were able to do that there were no issues there" (Gaudiano, Wilmington News Journal, 8/26).

What Could Not Have Been

Biden won his first election to Senate in '72, but "shortly before Biden was sworn in, his wife Neilia and infant daughter Naomi were killed in a tragic car crash that also left his two sons severely injured." At the time, Biden told then-Senate Maj. Leader Mike Mansfield (D) "that he planned to relinquish his seat in the Senate." Mansfield "encouraged him to reconsider, calling him repeatedly as the young senator-elect stood vigil over his sons' hospital beds and pleading with him to change his mind." According to Mansfield biographer Don Oberdorfer, "Biden reluctantly agreed to stick it out" (Adams, Great Falls Tribune, 8/26).

Personal Traits

Miami businessman Matthew Adler said Biden "hates 'The Ask'" -- "fund-raiser speak for the times when politicians sit down to phone potential donors and ask them for money" (Coopers, "Washington Wire," Wall Street Journal, 8/25).

Jill Biden: "He's pretty much a night owl, so they have that in common. He's on that Blackberry and his phones constantly. I won't let him drive the car because everything's ringing. I say, 'Pull over!' It's too dangerous. Or we go the wrong places"(Sobieraj Westfall, People, 8/25).

The Big Picture

Ex-Clinton CoS John Podesta: "I think that Joe Biden, based on his roots, based on his upbringing in Scranton, Pennsylvania, they ought to just put him on a bus, drive him from Pennsylvania across Ohio, to the Midwest and back. ... He's a working class guy. He's a very effective campaigner with that group. And, you know, he's an Irish Catholic. And I think he connects with voters, particularly older women who ... Obama needs to reach out to bring in on an economic message. ... Biden will be very good at that" ("O'Reilly Factor," 8/25).

The Get Along Gang

Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), on how well Obama and Biden get along: "I think they get along very well. They're both very outgoing, personable, humorous. I mean they're good people. They tell jokes and they enjoy this business. It makes life a lot easier. When they were in Springfield just this last Saturday, I saw Barack and Michelle and Joe and Jill sitting together in a little room just drinking a soda, you know, after the speech. And I thought this group is going to be good. It's going to be a good, strong team" ("Election Center," CNN, 8/25).

This article appears in the August 26, 2008 edition of Latest Edition.

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