Biden, a senator at age 29, offers experience to ticket

McClatchy NewspapersAugust 23, 2008 

CHICAGO — Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, 65, is an obvious choice as Barack Obama's running mate in many standpoints, but he's also an awkward one.

On the plus side, Biden boosts the ticket's credentials on experience and appealing to blue-collar and Catholic independents and Democrats. He's been in the Senate for 35 years, elected at age 29. He's chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and was a longtime Judiciary Committee chairman. He traveled to Georgia after Russia’s recent attack.

On the downside, as a presidential candidate this year Biden argued that Obama didn't have enough experience for the job. He said it was amateur of Obama to publicly threaten to invade Pakistan with or without that government's approval in order to catch top terrorism targets.

An early effort by Biden to compliment Obama also drew criticism as racially insensitive when he said Obama was the first mainstream black presidential candidate to be "articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy."

One of Biden's two sons — Hunter — has worked as a corporate Washington lobbyist, while Obama has campaigned on minimizing the influence of lobbyists and special-interest groups in politics.

Biden was born in Scranton, Pa. His family moved to Delaware while he was still in grade school. Despite his reputation for loquaciousness, he had a pronounced stutter as a child.

His first wife and a daughter were killed in a car accident shortly after he was elected to the Senate. He survived two brain aneurysms in 1988, taking months to recover. His first bid for president collapsed after he was accused of plagiarism for failing to credit a British politician for wording of a speech.

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