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'These times require more than a good soldier, they require a wise leader'
Published: Saturday August 23, 2008

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Barack Obama introduced Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware on Saturday as a man "ready to step in and be president," and the newly minted running mate quickly turned his campaign debut into a slashing attack on Republicans seeking four more years in the White House.

Sen. John McCain would have to "figure out which of the seven kitchen tables to sit at" when considering his own economic future, said Biden, jabbing at the man he called his personal friend.

It was a reference to McCain's recent inartful admission — in a time of economic uncertainty — that he was not sure how many homes he owns.

Before a vast crowd spilling out from the front of the Old State Capitol, Obama said Biden was "what many others pretend to be — a statesman with sound judgment who doesn't have to hide behind bluster to keep America strong."

Democrats coalesced quickly around the 47-year-old Obama's selection of the 65-year-old veteran of three decades in the Senate — a choice meant to provide foreign policy heft to the party's ticket for the fall campaign against McCain and the Republicans.

Obama made a symbolic choice for the site of the ticket's first joint appearance.

Full text of Obama's introduction of Joe Biden as his running mate:

"Nineteen months ago, on a cold February day right here on the steps of
the Old State Capitol, I stood before you to announce my candidacy for
President of the United States of America.

We started this journey with a simple belief: that the American people
were better than their government in Washington - a government that
has fallen prey to special interests and policies that have left
working people behind. As I've travelled to towns and cities, farms
and factories, front porches and fairgrounds in almost all fifty
states - that belief has been strengthened. Because at this defining
moment in our history - with our nation at war, and our economy in
recession - we know that the American people cannot afford four more
years of the same failed policies and the same old politics in
Washington. We know that the time for change has come.

For months, I've searched for a leader to finish this journey
alongside me, and to join in me in making Washington work for the
American people. I searched for a leader who understands the rising
costs confronting working people, and who will always put their dreams
first. A leader who sees clearly the challenges facing America in a
changing world, with our security and standing set back by eight years
of a failed foreign policy. A leader who shares my vision of an open
government that calls all citizens - Democrats, Republicans and
Independents - to a common purpose. Above all, I searched for a leader
who is ready to step in and be President.

Today, I have come back to Springfield to tell you that I've found
that leader - a man with a distinguished record and a fundamental
decency - Joe Biden.

Joe Biden is that rare mix - for decades, he has brought change to
Washington, but Washington hasn't changed him. He's an expert on
foreign policy whose heart and values are rooted firmly in the middle
class. He has stared down dictators and spoken out for America's cops
and firefighters. He is uniquely suited to be my partner as we work to
put our country back on track.

Now I could stand here and recite a list of Senator Biden's
achievements, because he is one of the finest public servants of our
time. But first I want to talk to you about the character of the man
standing next to me.

Joe Biden's many triumphs have only come after great trial.

He was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania. His family didn't have much
money. Joe Sr. worked different jobs, from cleaning boilers to selling
cars, sometimes moving in with the in-laws or working weekends to make
ends meet. But he raised his family with a strong commitment to work
and to family; to the Catholic faith and to the belief that in
America, you can make it if you try. Those are the core values that
Joe Biden has carried with him to this day. And even though Joe Sr. is
not with us, I know that he is proud of Joe today.

It might be hard to believe when you hear him talk now, but as a child
he had a terrible stutter. They called him "Bu-bu-Biden." But he
picked himself up, worked harder than the other guy, and got elected
to the Senate - a young man with a family and a seemingly limitless

Then tragedy struck. Joe's wife Neilia and their little girl Naomi
were killed in a car accident, and their two boys were badly hurt.
When Joe was sworn in as a Senator, there was no ceremony in the
Capitol - instead, he was standing by his sons in the hospital room
where they were recovering. He was 30 years old.

Tragedy tests us - it tests our fortitude and it tests our faith.
Here's how Joe Biden responded. He never moved to Washington. Instead,
night after night, week after week, year after year, he returned home
to Wilmington on a lonely Amtrak train when his Senate business was
done. He raised his boys - first as a single dad, then alongside his
wonderful wife Jill, who works as a teacher. He had a beautiful
daughter. Now his children are grown and Joe is blessed with
5grandchildren. He instilled in them such a sense of public service
that his son, Beau, who is now Delaware's Attorney General, is getting
ready to deploy to Iraq. And he still takes that train back to
Wilmington every night. Out of the heartbreak of that unspeakable
accident, he did more than become a Senator - he raised a family. That
is the measure of the man standing next to me. That is the character
of Joe Biden.

Years later, Senator Biden would face another brush with death when he
had a brain aneurysm. On the way to the hospital, they didn't think he
was going to make it. They gave him slim odds to recover. But he did.
He beat it. And he came back stronger than before.

Maybe it's this resilience - this insistence on overcoming adversity -
that accounts for Joe Biden's work in the Senate. Time and again, he
has made a difference for the people across this country who work long
hours and face long odds. This working class kid from Scranton and
Wilmington has always been a friend to the underdog, and all who seek
a safer and more prosperous America to live their dreams and raise
their families.

Fifteen years ago, too many American communities were plagued by
violence and insecurity. So Joe Biden brought Democrats and
Republicans together to pass the 1994 Crime Bill, putting 100,000 cops
on the streets, and starting an eight year drop in crime across the

For far too long, millions of women suffered abuse in the shadows. So
Joe Biden wrote the Violence Against Women Act, so every woman would
have a place to turn for support. The rate of domestic violence went
down dramatically, and countless women got a second chance at life.

Year after year, he has been at the forefront of the fight for judges
who respect the fundamental rights and liberties of the American
people; college tuition that is affordable for all; equal pay for
women and a rising minimum wage for all; and family leave policies
that value work and family. Those are the priorities of a man whose
work reflects his life and his values.

That same strength of character is at the core of his rise to become
one of America's leading voices on national security.

He looked Slobodan Milosevic in the eye and called him a war criminal,
and then helped shape policies that would end the killing in the
Balkans and bring him to justice. He passed laws to lock down chemical
weapons, and led the push to bring Europe's newest democracies into
NATO. Over the last eight years, he has been a powerful critic of the
catastrophic Bush-McCain foreign policy, and a voice for a new
direction that takes the fight to the terrorists and ends the war in
Iraq responsibly. He recently went to Georgia, where he met quietly
with the President and came back with a call for aid and a tough
message for Russia.

Joe Biden is what so many others pretend to be - a statesman with
sound judgment who doesn't have to hide behind bluster to keep America

Joe won't just make a good Vice President - he will make a great one.
After decades of steady work across the aisle, I know he'll be able to
help me turn the page on the ugly partisanship in Washington, so we
can bring Democrats and Republicans together to pass an agenda that
works for the American people. And instead of secret task energy task
forces stacked with Big Oil and a Vice President that twists the facts
and shuts the American people out, I know that Joe Biden will give us
some real straight talk.

I have seen this man work. I have sat with him as he chairs the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee, and been by his side on the campaign
trail. And I can tell you that Joe Biden gets it. He's that unique
public servant who is at home in a bar in Cedar Rapids and the
corridors of the Capitol; in the VFW hall in Concord, and at the
center of an international crisis.

That's because he is still that scrappy kid from Scranton who beat the
odds; the dedicated family man and committed Catholic who knows every
conductor on that Amtrak train to Wilmington. That's the kind of
fighter who I want by my side in the months and years to come.

That's what it's going to take to win the fight for good jobs that let
people live their dreams, a tax code that rewards work instead of
wealth, and health care that is affordable and accessible for every
American family. That's what it's going to take to forge a new energy
policy that frees us from our dependence on foreign oil and $4
gasoline at the pump, while creating new jobs and new industry. That's
what it's going to take to put an end to a failed foreign policy
that's based on bluster and bad judgment, so that we renew America's
security and standing in the world.

We know what we're going to get from the other side. Four more years
of the same out-of-touch policies that created an economic disaster at
home, and a disastrous foreign policy abroad. Four more years of the
same divisive politics that is all about tearing people down instead
of lifting this country up.

We can't afford more of the same. I am running for President because
that's a future that I don't accept for my daughters and I don't
accept it for your children. It's time for the change that the
American people need.

Now, with Joe Biden at my side, I am confident that we can take this
country in a new direction; that we are ready to overcome the
adversity of the last eight years; that we won't just win this
election in November, we'll restore that fair shot at your dreams that
is at the core of who Joe Biden and I are as people, and what America
is as a nation. So let me introduce you to the next Vice President of
the United States of America..."

Video from the event in Springfield, Illinois today follows:

(With wire report)