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Speculation on Biden as Obama VP choice

Speculation on Biden as Obama VP choice

With Barack Obama expected to announce his vice presidential pick by Saturday, speculation that Joe Biden _ the Senate's top Democratic foreign policy expert _ will be his 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 newcomer 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 national security experience and his calls for a 16-month withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from Iraq.
The Illinois senator may have received Thursday an unintended, boost on foreign affairs from an unlikely corner. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her Iraqi counterpart, meeting in Baghdad, announced that the two countries agree that timetables should be set for a U.S. troop withdrawal.
With the Democratic National Convention opening Monday, Obama has remained quiet about his vice presidential pick. But he plans to appear with his running mate Saturday, after the pick is announced via text message to supporters.
Other possible running mates are Govs. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas and Tim Kaine of Virginia, and Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana.
Biden, 65, is staying uncharacteristically quiet in the face of growing attention. Dressed in a suit and sunglasses, Biden left his home by car Thursday morning in Wilmington, Delaware, with only a casual wave to the news media.
The choice of Biden, who has served on the Senate's Foreign Relations committee for 33 years, could potentially blunt some of McCain's criticism about Obama's lack of experience. Biden is also adept at doing what Obama has appeared reluctant to do _ go on the attack against McCain.
But Obama could also face criticism for choosing Biden. In his hard-fought primary battle for the nomination, Obama campaigned on a platform of change _ offering a relief for voters weary of old-school Washington politics. Biden, elected in 1972, is hardly a political outsider.
It may be a gamble, but Obama is feeling the pressure. Polls show that McCain is catching up with his rival nationally as he portrays him as an empty celebrity and elitist.
And, as the Nov. 4 election approaches, the race has turned nastier.
Obama has sharpened his tone toward McCain as Obama's supporters worry whether the candidate who campaigned on the themes of hope and change can be aggressive enough.
Obama on Thursday depicted McCain as rich, out of touch and less a foreign-policy expert than he claims.
After being introduced at a rally in Richmond, Virginia by Kaine, Obama chided his Republican rival for an interview in which he said he did not know how many homes he owns. McCain's wife, Cindy, is an heiress to a large beer distributorship and her wealth is estimated to be at least $100 million.
"If you're like me, and you've got one house, or you are like the millions of people who are struggling right now to keep up with their mortgage so they don't lose their home, you might have a different perspective," Obama said.
Obama also struck a defensive tone, saying that despite his limited experience on the national stage he has shown better judgment on foreign affairs than has McCain.
"I will put my judgment on foreign policy over the last five years against John McCain's anytime. Anytime," Obama said. McCain has derided Obama's call for a withdrawal timetable as political opportunism aimed at getting himself elected at the cost of losing the war.
A key part of the U.S.-Iraqi draft agreement envisions the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq's cities by June 30 of next year. In a news conference, Rice and Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said that a final agreement spelling out the nature of any future U.S. troop presence and Washington-Baghdad relations is close to fruition, but not yet complete.
President George W. Bush had long opposed timetables. But more recently, he has called for a "general time horizon" for ending the U.S. mission.
Both candidates have unveiled fresh attack advertisements ahead of their back-to-back national conventions.
Trying anew to tie McCain to the unpopular 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."
Republicans have been emboldened by improving poll numbers: Even 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.
A CBS News-New York Times poll released Wednesday showed Obama was ahead of McCain by 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 6 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.


Updated : 2020-12-02 17:26 GMT+08:00