Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama has chosen Delaware Senator Joseph Biden as his running mate, according to CNN. Citing "multiple Democratic sources" the network reported the news at about 1 a.m. on Saturday (August 23), though the Obama campaign had planned to reveal the vice presidential pick via a text message sent to supporters. Most expected to receive the news sometime on Saturday morning, before the two running mates are scheduled to attend a rally in Springfield, Illinois.
Biden will be taking the stage at the Democratic National Convention next week as part of a history-making ticket looking to take on Republican Senator John McCain and his soon-to-be-announced running mate in November.
The 65-year-old senator has long been considered a top contender for a job. As chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, with close to six terms in the Senate under his belt, Biden has the experience many think Obama lacks in foreign policy and defense issues. He's also a Catholic with a blue-collar background, which could help Obama with that demographic.
On the other hand, the Washington veteran (who ran for president himself in 1988 and 2008) represents a state that is already in Obama's column, and he has a history of putting his foot in his mouth. On the campaign trail earlier this year, Biden received flak for calling Obama "the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy." He quickly apologized for the statement.
In the days leading up to the announcement the speculation ramped up, with every media outlet digging for every kernel of information that might suggest who Obama was going to choose, staking out those on the short list and practically begging them for any hints. As of earlier this week, the New York Times reported that the short list had gotten down to a trio of potential VPs that included Biden, Indiana's Senator Evan Bayh and Virginia Governor Tim Kaine.
As the time ticked down on Obama's announcement, supporters of the senator's one-time rival for the Democratic nomination, Senator Hillary Clinton, began to lose hope that Obama would choose the former first lady, even as the buzz about her joining the ticket picked up again. Fox News even reported on Friday that there was a move afoot by some delegates to force Clinton onto the ticket. Another long shot candidate, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, was also said to be in the running. On Friday, a true dark horse candidate emerged in Texas Representative Chet Edwards, a big supporter of veterans' issues who confirmed to CNN that he had been vetted by the campaign.
The Times had predicted that Obama would likely choose a "relatively safe" running mate to avoid taking any chances with a selection that might change voters' minds on the candidate or alienate a significant portion of his base. Then again, with his lead over McCain slipping away over the past few weeks, Obama was in need of a buzz-worthy pick that could re-energize the campaign.
Obama reached his final decision while on his recent vacation in Hawaii in what was an "unexpectedly intense process" that the paper said was squeezed into a shorter period to avoid actively vetting potential running mates' backgrounds before Clinton quit the race in June. The candidate confirmed on Thursday that he had made his decision but wasn't ready to reveal it yet.
Obama was faced with the decision of filling out the ticket with someone who could plug that perceived hole, someone who would reinforce his message of change, a running mate who could help him win an important toss-up state, or someone who could boost his appeal to white, working class voters, whom he had trouble reaching in some states during the primaries.
For a time, former Senator John Edwards was also rumored to be on a long short list, but the 2004 Democratic VP nominee's second chance at the #2 slot, or a potential spot in an Obama cabinet, imploded when he recently admitted to an extramarital affair.
Despite all the attention, there's one thing political pundits typically agree on: While the hoopla surrounding the VP pick always provide a momentary bump in the polls, it rarely has much of an impact on winning states or regions of the country come November.
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