From The New York Times:
WASHINGTON — Senator Barack Obama introduced Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr. as his running mate on Saturday, a choice that strengthens the Democratic ticket’s credentials on foreign policy heading into the general election against Senator John McCain.
In Mr. Biden, Mr. Obama selected a six-term senator best known for his expertise on foreign affairs — Mr. Biden spent last weekend in Georgia as that nation engaged in a tense confrontation with Russia — and his skills at political combat.
[...] at the rally, Mr. Biden quickly demonstrated that he could fight hard, too. He offered a lusty attack on Mr. McCain, after noting that he had been a friend for 35 years.
“Over the past 18 months, I’ve watched Barack meet those challenges with judgment, intelligence and steel in his spine,” Mr. Biden said. “I’ve watched as he’s inspired millions of Americans to this new cause. And during those 18 months, I must tell you, frankly, I have been disappointed in my friend John McCain, who gave in to the right wing of his party and gave in to the Swift Boat politics he once so deplored.”
Mr. Biden is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and is familiar with foreign leaders and diplomats around the world. Although he initially voted to authorize the war in Iraq — Mr. Obama opposed it from the start — Mr. Biden became a persistent critic of President Bush’s policies in Iraq. Mr. Obama’s acquaintance with Mr. Biden is in no small part a result of the fact that the two serve together on that committee, aides said.
Mr. Biden seems likely to fill in other gaps in Mr. Obama’s political appeal that became increasingly clear during the primary season and going into the fall. He is a Roman Catholic, a group with which Mr. Obama had trouble during the Democratic primaries; he has a blue-collar background, potentially giving him appeal among working-class voters, another bloc in which Mr. Obama ran poorly in the primaries; and he was born in Pennsylvania, a battleground state that could be vital to both parties.
Although Mr. Biden is not exactly a household name, he is probably the best known of all the Democrats who were in contention for the spot, given his political and personal history, not to mention his regular appearances on the Sunday morning television news shows.
According to the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll, 53 percent of Democratic voters said they had not yet heard enough about Mr. Biden to offer an opinion, and another 19 percent were undecided. Twenty-one percent viewed Mr. Biden favorably, and just 5 percent had an unfavorable opinion of him. The poll was conducted Aug. 15-20 with 370 Democratic voters.
He first ran for the Senate from Delaware when he was 29. Mr. Biden has run twice for the presidency, in 1988 and in 2008, dropping out early in both cases.
He was also the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee during two contentious Supreme Court nomination battles: the confirmation proceedings for Robert H. Bork, who was defeated, and Clarence Thomas, who was confirmed after an explosive hearing in which Anita Hill had accused Mr. Thomas of sexual harassment. Mr. Biden led the opposition to both nominations, although he came under criticism from some feminists for not immediately disclosing what were, at first, Ms. Hill’s closed-door accusations against Mr. Thomas.
He is also something of a fixture in Washington, and he would bring to the campaign — and the White House — a familiarity with the way the city and Congress work that Mr. Obama cannot match after his relatively short stint in Washington. Sensitive to portrayals of Mr. Biden as a creature of Washington who undercuts Mr. Obama’s claims to represent change, aides to Mr. Obama emphasized that Mr. Biden commutes home by train each evening to Wilmington, where he has continued to live throughout his Senate career.
From CBS News:
(The Politico) In a bit of a bipartisan twist, several Republican senators joined the flood of Democrats congratulating Sen. Joe Biden today after Sen. Barack Obama tapped him as his vice presidential running mate.
As Politico colleague Jonathan Martin notes, Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska went way off message, calling the Delaware senator’s “good news for Obama and America.”
Sen. Dick Lugar of Indiana, the top Republican on Biden’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also issued a statement congratulating the chairman, as did Republican Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.
“No one on the Democratic side knows more about foreign policy than Sen. Biden,” Specter crowed. “He’s been an articulate spokesman on the subject. He also knows about domestic policy. He’s been a leader on crime control.”