Obama picks Biden as vice president (Third lead)

August 23rd, 2008 - 3:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Aug 23 (DPA) Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama has chosen veteran Delaware senator Joe Biden as his pick for vice president, the campaign confirmed early Saturday in a text message sent to supporters.The announcement ended weeks of speculation over which of a handful of likely politicians would get the nod. US media broke the story only about three hours before the official message was sent out, a sign of just how closely guarded Obama’s campaign had managed to keep the secret.

The Obama-Biden Democratic ticket was to make its first public appearance at a Saturday afternoon rally in Springfield, Illinois, where Obama got his political start in the state house and launched his presidential bid last year.

Biden, 65, is a longtime senator from Delaware and chairman of the upper house’s Foreign Relations Committee. He is an old hand at international relations who travelled to Georgia this month in the middle of the country’s conflict with Russia, and will likely appeal to voters sceptical of Obama’s foreign affairs credentials.

But Biden will come under fire for some comments made about Obama during his own brief presidential run this year. Biden questioned whether the 47-year-old Illinois senator was experienced enough, arguing the presidency was not “on-the-job training.”

“There has been no harsher critic of Barack Obama’s lack of experience than Joe Biden,” said Ben Porritt, a spokesman for Republican rival John McCain, in the campaign’s first official reaction.

The Democrats gather at their party convention in Denver, Colorado, beginning Monday to formally nominate Obama. Biden, if he is the vice president, is slated to speak Wednesday night.

Speculation over who would be Obama’s running mate had reached a feverish pitch Friday night. Broadcaster CNN even showed live shots of several of the likely candidates’ homes in hopes of some sort of clue.

The rumour mill now turns to McCain, who is expected to announce his own running mate Friday, just days before the Republican Party convention begins on Sept 1 in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Likely candidates for McCain include Mitt Romney, a former Massachusetts governor who came closest to stealing the party nomination from McCain; Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty; and former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge.

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