WASHINGTON — Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama named Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware as his vice presidential running mate, according to a cell phone text message sent out to supporters.
By selecting Sen. Biden, Sen. Obama adds a vice presidential candidate who is steeped in foreign policy issues. The selection may be intended to quiet critics who complain that Obama, a first-term senator from Illinois, lacks experience necessary to govern the country.
The news emerged after the other two politicians considered to be on the short list — Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh and Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine — told associates earlier Friday that they had been notified by the campaign that they were not the choice.
Obama and Biden are expected to appear together at a rally Saturday afternoon in Springfield, Ill.
Biden, a former presidential candidate himself, brings a foreign policy and Washington experience to the ticket. He has been a senator for more than 30 years, and chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Biden is seen as a moderate on flashpoint issues such as the Iraq War, and once chided Obama for voting against a war funding measure. Though Biden made a poor showing in the presidential primary contest, he made his mark as an able fund-raiser and campaigner.
Selecting Biden carries potential negatives, however: The senior senator is considered by many to be a Washington insider, which may not square easily with the Obama campaign's message of change. Biden also has gained a reputation for verbal missteps at times. His 1988 presidential run collapsed after he was accused of plagiarizing the text of a speech in Iowa. Biden brings no opportunity for an important swing-state pickup in the general election since tiny Delaware is a Democratic stronghold.
Biden, 65 years old, has spent most of his adult life as a U.S. senator since his election to represent Delaware at the age of 29. He had practiced law for just a few years after graduating from the University of Delaware in 1965 and Syracuse University College of Law in 1968.
His personal life has been marked by tragedy. Within weeks of his election in 1972, his wife and daughter were killed in a car crash, and his two sons injured. Biden contemplated resigning, but after entreaties from senior Democratic Party figures he was sworn in at the bedside of his sons. He began a habit of commuting daily to Washington, remarried in 1977, and has a daughter with his second wife, Jill. The elder of his two sons, Beau, is the Delaware Attorney General and also serves as a captain in the Delaware National Guard. He is scheduled to leave for a tour of duty in Iraq in October.
The senator, a Roman Catholic, has spoken of receiving a "second chance in life" after surviving surgery on two brain aneurysms in 1988, soon after ending his presidential bid that year.