Hailed as a “distinguished leader” by Barack Obama, the US Democratic candidate for the presidency, Joe Biden, Delaware senator, has officially been introduce as the candidate’s vice-presidential running mate.
On Saturday, at a rally in his state of Illinois (photo, from bbc.co.uk), Mr Obama told a cheering 35 000-strong crowd : “I searched for a leader who is ready to step in and be president.
“A man with a distinguished record, a man with fundamental decency, and that man is Joe Biden.”
Earlier on Saturday, the candidate’s choice had been confirmed by his campaign workers in a text messages and emails, sent to millions of supporters.
Joe Biden, 65, is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and on international affairs he is a highly respected voice in the US. He has served more than 30 years in the Senate and twice, he has sought the Democratic nomination for the White House.
After appearing at the Old State Capitol in Springfield, where Obama launched his presidential campaign, they are to tour some of the key battleground states, including Iowa and Montana.
Because he is strong in several areas where voters perceive Barack Obama is lacking, Mr Biden complements the Illinois senator, says Rob Reynolds, Al Jazeera’s senior Washington correspondent at the rally in Illinois.
“Obama chose to go with experience – someone who could help him overall, to complement what he lacks, which is long time experience in foreign policy, in Washington and in the legislative process for example.
“Domestically, Biden fills some gaps too. One of them being support among working-class Catholic voters in very important states like Pennsylvania and Ohio. That’s where Hillary Clinton trounced Obama – in these depressed steel-mining or manufacturing cities.
“Biden has these working-class roots, a Catholic base and a strong family image, so Obama’s hope is that he will go to these people and say, “Obama is an ok guy, he’s acceptable to me, and so he should be acceptable to you”.”
“But, you have to question how much a running mate really matters in the election”, Mr Reynolds added. “There have been very strong running mates for failed candidates in the past.”
According to Mr McCain’s campaign, that choice shows that Barack Obama is not ready to serve as president himself.
“There has been no harsher critic of Barack Obama’s lack of experience than Joe Biden”, said Ben Porritt, a spokesman for McCain’s campaign in a statement.
“Biden has denounced Barack Obama’s poor foreign policy judgement and has strongly argued in his own words what Americans are quickly realising, that Barack Obama is not ready to be president.”
‘A ring to it’
Even though Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts and Tim Pawlenty, governor of Minnesota, were being considered, senior Republican officials say that John McCain has not settled on a choice of vice-president.
Before naming Mr Biden, Barack Obama had told CBS’ “Early Show” that he had decided on someone who will be prepared to step in as president, can help him govern and will be independent.
“I want somebody who is going to challenge my thinking and not simply be a yes person when it comes to policy-making”, he said.
“The Obama-Biden ticket has a ring to it”, said Toby Chaudhuri, a Democratic strategist.
“There is a lot of electricity there, even though everybody will dice it up and think about which constituencies are going to be more likely to vote for the ticket now, at the end of the day it is about the chemistry between these two folks”, he told Al Jazeera.
“When you add Biden to it, you add a populism to the ticket that may not have existed before, in addition to all the credibility that comes with his experience.”
Next week, the Democratic party will hold its annual convention in the city of Denver, Colorado, and both Barack Obama and his vice-presidential choice are due to speak.