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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.
Obama said Thursdasy he had decided on a running mate, but he would not say who. The Democratic presidential candidate told the USA Today daily on Thursday that he went with someone who is independent and would challenge him in the White House.
Obama is planning to do so in a text message to supporters sometime before Saturday afternoon, when he is scheduled to appear with his pick in Illinois.
Other possible running mates are Govs. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas and Tim Kaine of Virginia, and Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana. West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin said Thursday his friend Kaine thinks he is on the short list.
Manchin said Kaine told him although he had not heard anything from the Obama campaign on where he stands at the time, "he really thinks he has a chance at the short straw."
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.
And on Thursday, a conservative nonprofit group with a past link to McCain's presidential campaign said it is spending $2.8 million on an ad questioning Obama's relationship to a founder of the 1960s radical group Weather Underground.
The ad, which is expected to begin airing Thursday in Michigan and Friday in Ohio, focuses on William Ayers, whose Weatherman organization took credit for a series of bombings, including nonfatal explosions at the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol 40 years ago.
Obama has distanced himself from the radical activity of the Weather Underground. In an interview with "Fox News Sunday" in April, Obama said he "deplored" Ayers action in the 1960s.
The ad signals the emergence of the type of tough advertising by independent organizations that operate outside the financial limits of campaign finance law. It is reminiscent of ads aired against John Kerry four years ago questioning his military service that were widely blamed by Democrats for contributing to his defeat.
Obama's campaign accused McCain of having a hand in the ad, saying he "dispatched his paid consultant to launch this despicable ad from a so-called 'independent' committee."
Obama's TV commercial tries to tie McCain further to unpopular President George W. Bush, asking "can we really afford more of the same?" It slams McCain's tax plan as a giveaway for big corporations and oil companies.
A McCain radio ad claims: "Celebrities like to spend their millions. Barack Obama is no different. Only it's your money he wants to spend."


Updated : 2021-06-14 13:37 GMT+08:00