Updated from 11:05 a.m. EDT
Sen. Barack Obama (D., Ill.) Saturday publicly introduced fellow Sen. Joe Biden (D., Del.) as his running mate at a campaign rally in Springfield, Ill. and stressed Biden's foreign policy experience and blue-collar background.
During the rally, Obama said, "Joe Biden is that rare mix -- for decades, he has brought change to Washington, but Washington hasn't changed him. He's an expert on foreign policy whose heart and values are rooted firmly in the middle class. He has stared down dictators and spoken out for America's cops and firefighters. He is uniquely suited to be my partner as we work to put our country back on track."
Obama got to the heart of Biden as a pick: He appeals to working class Democrats and Independents concerned about Obama's foreign policy credentials. Biden currently serves as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee and is well-respected in the foreign policy community.
Recent polls have shown Obama slipping with these voter groups, and Biden is viewed as a running mate who may be able to shore up support among them in time for the November election. The 65-year-old senator is also known as being an aggressive campaigner. That could help the Obama campaign, which is shifting to a more aggressive footing after facing setbacks in August.
The Obama campaign first announced the choice of Biden as vice presidential candidate early Saturday morning on its
Biden has served six terms as a senator, and anyone with that much history has plenty of positives and minuses. For starters, Biden has a big mouth. This often helps him when he speaks plainly to the public, but it has also hurt him.
A presidential hopeful until he dropped out of the Democratic race in January, Biden once criticized Obama as not ready to lead. He also once lauded Obama's rival, Sen. John McCain (R., Ariz.), and said he would consider running on a ticket with McCain.
The McCain campaign has been quick to seize on these comments and has released a commercial entitled
showing the Delaware senator making them. This is not good for the Democratic ticket.
Biden also is no stranger to controversy. In 1988, he pulled out of the presidential race after charges of plagiarism plagued his campaign. He failed to attribute one of his quotes in a speech to British Politician Neil Kinnock and faced allegations of copying for an article during his time in law school. The media overlooked much of this controversy last year when Biden was a candidate, but it remains to be seen whether it will re-emerge as a damaging issue for him.
It is also of interest to note that Biden and Obama significantly disagree on Iraq. Biden voted for the war authorization in 2002, though he has been a strong critic of President George Bush. Obama opposed the war in 2002.
At Saturday's campaign rally, Biden voiced strong support for Obama, saying both men share the same belief in the American dream, a dream Biden said was slipping away after eight years of Bush.
He also took of the role of attack dog, hitting at McCain. "I'll say straight up to you: John McCain, and the press knows this, is genuinely a friend of mine," Biden said. I've known John for 35 years. He served our country with extraordinary courage, and I know he wants to do right by America. But the harsh truth is, ladies and gentlemen, you can't change America when you boast. And these are John's words, quote,
On the most important issues of our day, I've been totally in agreement and support of President Bush. Ladies and gentlemen, that's what he said. You can't change America when you supported George Bush's policies 95% of the time."
Obama and Biden plan to tour several swings states including Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, and Montana prior to arriving at the Democratic Convention in Denver next week.