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Breaking: Obama selects Joe Biden as his VP running mate

August 22, 2008 | 10:09 pm

So the recent events in Georgia involving Russian troops sent shock waves all the way down Chicago's Michigan Avenue to Obama headquarters. He decided to call in one of the Senate's top foreign policy experts to counter another of the Senate's top foreign policy experts.

Sen. Barack Obama, the Democrats' about-to-be presidential nominee, has chosen a fellow senator, Joe Biden of Delaware, as his about-to-be running mate for the Nov. 4 general election.

Two high-ranking Democratic Party officials have confirmed the choice of the veteran to The Times. Republican reaction is included at the end of this item.

The official announcement should come shortly, as promised, in an e-mail and text message dispatched to hundreds of thousands of Obama supporters around the world.

Democratic senators Joe Biden of Delaware and Barack Obama of Illinois, now the official presidential ticket of the Democratic party

As recently as Tuesday, Biden had been telling reporters staking out his home in a cross-country VP watch, "I'm not the guy." So much for full disclosure.

Obviously, the 65-year-old veteran senator was chosen because Delaware with its whopping three electoral votes is such a crucially strategic state on the national political map.

Not!

Biden, who's been a senator since Richard M. Nixon trounced George McGoven for reelection in 1972, was picked because of his long experience in foreign policy and national security affairs.

His presence on Obama's ticket detracts somewhat from the....

...freshman Illinois senator's argument about bringing change to the corrupt, stagnant ways of old Washington; Biden's been working in that former swamp of a city since Obama was 11 years old.

In fact, when he was first elected senator, Biden at 29 was too young to legally assume office. He turned 30 before taking the oath and has been planted there ever since through the terms of seven different presidents.

Obama's team has strung out the guessing of his choice for a long time, maybe a couple days too long. But that had the political advantage of increasing the mystery and hype around him while also allowing his Republican opponent to stew an extra 24 hours in Domicilegate.

But the eruption of the Russian incursion into Georgia in recent weeks seemed to catch the vacationing Obama camp momentarily off-balance; with Obama walking Hawaii's gorgeous beaches as Russian tanks moved into Georgia proper, the Democratic candidate did not initially speak out as forcefully against the Russians as his Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain, a longtime national security expert and personal friend of the embattled Georgian president.

A political button for Democratic senators and presidential running mates Barack Obama and Joe Biden

Obama, who has said geography would not be the major factor in his running mate choice, was true to his word.

He obviously decided that the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from a tiny state famous for seafood and lax business incorporation laws, brought much more to the campaign table in terms of foreign policy expertise than he costs in terms of being a lifelong D.C. insider.

Last weekend after consulting with Obama, Biden made a hasty two-day trip to Georgia himself to assess the situation and voice support for the democratically elected government there.

Biden, who is a Roman Catholic, has been a well-spoken if underfunded campaigner during his own two attempts to win the Democratic nomination. In fact, the Pennsylvania-born son of a car salesman is known for being quite a long-winded talker, sometimes close to a loose cannon with his verbal barbs.

Back in his first White House run in 1987, Biden ran into trouble for plagiarizing a speech by a British labor leader and withdrew, blaming the "exaggerated shadow" of his offense.

Ironically, as the unpredictable twists of American politics would have it, last winter it was Biden during his latest unsuccessful bid for his party's nomination who provided a stinging sound bite to Republicans about his new political marriage partner.

He was asked by moderator George Stephanopoulos during one Democratic primary debate about his criticism of Obama as being unprepared to become the chief executive, adding that the Oval Office is not a place for on-the-job training.

"I think I stand by that statement," said Biden, who was standing right next to Obama at that moment. (See video below.)

Presumably, the veteran senator has changed his mind now.

BE SURE, and let us know what you think of Obama's pick in the Comments section below. We might want to write about your reactions.

(UPDATE: The McCain campaign quickly released a statement: "There has been no harsher critic of Barack Obama’s lack of experience than Joe Biden. Biden has denounced Barack Obama’s poor foreign policy judgment and has strongly argued in his own words what Americans are quickly realizing -- that Barack Obama is not ready to be President.”)

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-- Andrew Malcolm

Photo credit: Associated Press (top); CafePress.com (bottom).

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