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Obama soon to announce VP pick

Obama soon to announce VP pick

With Barack Obama expected to announce his vice presidential pick by Saturday, the emergence of Joe Biden _ the Senate's top Democratic foreign policy expert _ as his potential nominee highlights fears that the presidential candidate's inexperience in world affairs compared to Republican John McCain could be costing him in the polls.
Obama, a relative neophyte on the national political scene, made history by becoming the first black candidate to lead a major U.S. political party's presidential ticket. But he has endured a hammering by McCain, a veteran Arizona senator, combat pilot and former Vietnam prisoner of war, over what Republicans contend is his lack of foreign policy and national security experience.
The Illinois senator has remaimed tightlipped about his vice presidential pick. But he plans to appear with his newly selected running mate Saturday, with the pick announced via text message to supporters. He also is believed to be considering Govs. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas and Tim Kaine of Virginia, and Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana.
But with speculation rife about Biden, who has served on the Senate's Foreign Relations committee for 33 years, Obama could potentially blunt some of McCain's criticism about his experience while having beside him a veteran politician adept at doing what he has been reluctant to do _ go on the attack against his presidential rival.
Choosing the 65-year-old Biden, however, could also open Obama to criticism. In his hard-fought primary battle for the nomination, he campaigned on a platform of change _ offering a relief for voters weary of old school Washington politics. Biden, who was elected in 1972 to represent the U.S. state of Delaware in the Senate, is hardly an outsider to the national political scene.
It may be a calculated gamble, but Obama is feeling the pressure.
Polls show that McCain is catching up with his rival nationally, and two new surveys released Wednesday showed the two candidates neck and neck two weeks after Obama led the race by six percentage points.
The race has turned even nastier as the Nov. 4 election approaches.
Obama has sharpened his tone toward McCain as even Obama's supporters worried whether the candidate who campaigned on the themes of hope and change can be aggressive enough. McCain chided his Democratic rival on Wednesday for getting "a little testy."
"I honor his service. I don't honor his policies. I don't honor his politics," Obama said, taking on his Republican opponent with renewed vigor.
Both candidates also unveiled fresh attack advertisements ahead of their back-to-back national conventions.
Trying anew to tie McCain to the unpopular fellow Republican President George W. Bush, Obama's TV commercial asks: "Can we really afford more of the same?" It slams McCain's tax plan as a giveaway for big corporations and oil companies. McCain's radio ad claims: "Celebrities like to spend their millions. Barack Obama is no different. Only it's your money he wants to spend."
Obama was confronted by concerns about his ability to fight back at a town hall meeting in Virginia Wednesday, when a woman told him McCain was running a lot of negative ads in the state.
"You think you can win by taking the higher ground? I worry about you," the woman said, but Obama insisted he was up for the fight.
Republicans, in turn, are emboldened by improving poll numbers: Even ardent critics of McCain's campaign see a way he could win although Bush's unpopularity remains a drag and war and economic distress have created a dreadful political environment for the Republican Party.
New national polls show McCain starting to close a summer-long Obama edge.
A CBS News-New York Times poll released Wednesday showed Obama was ahead of McCain by a mere 45 percent to 42 percent. The poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points, meaning the two were in a statistical dead heat. Just two weeks ago, Obama led the race by six percentage points.
The Pew Research Center's latest survey found Obama at 46 percent and McCain at 43 percent, tighter than the 8-percentage-point gap just two months ago. The survey found that McCain has solidified his base support, particularly among whites, men, Republicans and evangelicals. Conversely, Obama has made few gains, but has retained his overwhelming advantage among blacks and younger voters, while also leading among women.
After struggling to find his footing, McCain has put Obama on defense over the past few weeks, with ads and speeches painting his rival as not up to the job of president. And, with Americans grumbling about high gasoline prices at a time of broader economic woes, McCain reversed himself to support offshore drilling amid high gas prices. That new message has helped unite dispirited Republicans.
More recently, the Arizona senator struck a hawkish stance during Georgia-Russia conflict in the hope of turning the campaign conversation to his strength _ national security. And, he delivered what was widely viewed as a strong performance last Saturday before an audience of evangelicals, a Republican core constituency he has struggled to energize.
Even so, he still has found himself on the defensive at times in trying to shed his association with Bush _ a link Obama and the Democrats are making at every turn. A recent AP-Yahoo poll showed that six of 10 adults say McCain will follow Bush's policies.
In areas like these, Biden could prove to be a boost on the Democratic ticket. The veteran Delaware senator returned this week from a trip to Georgia that he made at the invitation of the embattled country's president, a well-timed reminder of the value he could bring to Obama's ticket.
Fighting between Georgia and Russia has only increased the sense that Americans will turn to the candidate they believe will be a strong international leader.
Obama has been criticizing McCain for months, though he has used humorous lines and a light touch to blunt the attacks on the campaign trail.
Then last week, Obama started airing more hard-hitting TV and radio ads against McCain that were tailored to individual media markets. Some featured pictures of McCain and Bush, while others accuse McCain of ignoring the hardships of the working class, failing to protect jobs, and catering to oil companies.
Obama aired 10,000 spots last week, of which almost 9,000 were anti-McCain, according to Evan Tracey, who tracks political ads as head of TNS Media Intelligence/Campaign Media Analysis Group. During the same period, McCain aired virtually all anti-Obama ads; of his 13,000 spots, only 302 did not mention Obama.


Updated : 2021-03-02 13:42 GMT+08:00