As the breathless moment approaches when Barack Obama declares his choice of a running mate via a phone text message to his faithful followers, speculation mounts that it could be Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware.
The innovative method of informing the world of Obama's decision is another evidence of his campaign's groundbreaking modus operandi, a means of fattening his phone directory of supporters for use later in the campaign and on Election Day. But picking Biden would, itself, bow to traditional thinking.
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Foreign policy experience
Biden at age 65 would provide some gray hair to counter the presidential nominee's youth at 47. The outspoken veteran senator from Delaware as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is steeped in the foreign policy experience that Obama lacks.
Although Biden comes from a tiny state with only three electoral votes, he's well-known and popular throughout the Northeast, which is becoming more and more a Democratic bastion.
Unlike Obama, he supported the invasion of Iraq, but has long since joined Obama in declaring the war a calamity. He shares Obama's backing for a shift of U.S. effort to Afghanistan as the central front of the war against terrorism.
As himself a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination earlier this year, Biden was no match for Obama or Hillary Clinton. But he did manage, through thoughtful and disciplined responses in the many Democratic debates, to rehabilitate the unfavorable image he projected in his first presidential bid 20 years earlier.
Then, at 44, Biden was a fiery orator who lacked a brake pedal on his exuberance, known like Hubert Humphrey of earlier days for marathon preachings. He also was tripped up by borrowing without attribution stump orations of other politicians, leading to charges of plagiarism, and certain freewheeling comments made his candidacy toxic.
As a debater last winter and spring, however, Biden was such a model of discipline, with terse observations and sometimes just yes-or-no answers, that he won laughter and applause for conquering his earlier affliction of logorrhea.
Biden's personal story
Biden has been in the Senate for 35 years and is also well known and well regarded in Washington as a former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. In addition, he has an appealing personal story.
In 1972, shortly after his election to the Senate at age 29, he lost his first wife and a young daughter in a freak accident in which a huge trailer truck turned over and demolished the car in which they were sitting waiting for a light to change. Two sons were hurt, the eldest very seriously and hospitalized in Wilmington for months. Every day, Biden commuted by train from there to his Senate office and back to be with the boys.
Upon their recovery, Biden continued his daily commute in order to raise them himself with family help. He later remarried and had another daughter, but continues to commute daily rather than join other senators who maintain a second residence in Washington.
Born in Scranton, Pa., his roots in a state with 21 electoral votes could work in his favor, along with the fact that he is a practicing Catholic and Irish. He remains a vigorous speaker despite his late-developing verbal restraint.
Early speculation this year has been on trying to nail down a swing state, with Virginia often mentioned. Until freshman Sen. Jim Webb, a Vietnam war veteran, took himself out of consideration, he was high in the guessing game. Then Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine replaced him, along with Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana, another traditional Republican state in presidential elections.
Biden has said he doesn't want to be vice president but would take the nomination if offered. Not surprisingly, the statement has done nothing to dismiss the possibility of an Obama-Biden ticket.