A sudden flurry of political posts from me, as the campaign heats up. Summer’s coming to an end, the Democratic convention (starting on Monday) will be followed immediately by the Republican convention, and the two candidates are about to announce their running mates.
In fact: on the Democratic side, the word is already out. Obama has picked Joe Biden as his “veep” (VP, Vice President).
Obama’s announcement came in the wee hours this morning. Bill gets credit for the scoop here at [A]mazed and [Be]mused (see this comment).
Elsewhere, Marc Ambinder seems to have gotten the jump on everybody by noticing, yesterday afternoon, a charter flight headed from Chicago to Delaware.
Quick summary: Biden is older than Obama; a Senator since 1972; chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, with recognized foreign policy gravitas; clearly qualified to step into the Presidency, if necessary; a capable attack dog (which is a traditional role for the running mate); and a Roman Catholic, which could help Obama with a subset of voters that has been cautious about embracing him.
In October, one of Biden’s sons will be deploying to Iraq.
Key observation: Biden is very popular with older women and working class folks. Those are two of Hillary’s demographics, which is a key consideration here. A poll conducted Aug. 15-18 found that only 52% of Hillary Clinton’s supporters have decided to vote for Obama as of yet.
Re Biden’s potential appeal to working class voters:
Biden isn’t just one of the only non-millionaires in the Senate. He’s the poorest senator, according to an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics. He has a very modest lifestyle; doesn’t own a home in DC (much less one in La Jolla, like McCain does); his wife is a schoolteacher; etc. He’s lived like a public servant, emphasis on the “servant.”
That’ll make for a nice contrast with John “I-don’t-recall-how-many-homes-I-own” McCain!
Re older women: pollster Nate Silver reports that Biden’s numbers are quite strong among seniors, and (FWIW) one of Andrew Sullivan’s readers thinks this is especially true of older women. Silver says Biden
would probably lock up Pennsylvania for Obama — both because he is well-known in the Philly burbs and because Pennsylvania has an older electorate — and might play well somewhere like Florida.
Pennsylvania and Florida are, of course, two key “swing” states.
Here’s Biden in action when he was running for the Democratic nomination:
Biographical notes: Biden’s first marriage ended in Dec., 1972, when his wife and his daughter were killed in a car accident. His two sons were badly injured, but survived. Biden remarried in 1977 and has a daughter with his second wife.
And that isn’t the only crisis Biden has lived through. He had surgery to remove two brain aneurysms in 1988. David Brooks comments, “New administrations are dominated by the young and the arrogant, and benefit from the presence of those who have been through the worst and who have a tinge of perspective.”
Biden doesn’t own a home in Washington: every night, he travels 100 miles by train to be with his family in Wilmington, Delaware.
Human interest note: as a child, Biden had a terrible stutter that caused him much embarrassment. He compensated by demonstrating some athletic prowess. Now that he’s overcome his childhood stutter, the biggest knock against him is that he talks too much (creating a potential for gaffes).