Biden to appear in VP debate

| Staff Reporter
Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) take the stage at the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois on Saturday, August 23, 2008. Obama has chosen Biden as his vice presidential running mate.

Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) take the stage at the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois on Saturday, August 23, 2008. Obama has chosen Biden as his vice presidential running mate.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), the presumptive democratic presidential nominee, announced on Saturday that he has selected Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware to be his running mate in this year’s presidential election, and thus the Democratic representative to the vice presidential debate which will be held on Washington University’s campus in October.

A six-term senator who has specialized in foreign policy, Biden is the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“I think he’s a great choice,” senior Sophie Cohen, coordinator of the University’s chapter of Students for Barack Obama, said. “He adds a lot to the ticket and he’ll add a lot to the team.”
Cohen also feels confident in Biden’s ability to debate this fall.

“He’ll be able to articulate his viewpoints well at the debate on both the economy and foreign policy, which are two of the biggest issues facing America today,” she said.

Obama announced his decision via text message and e-mail at around 3 a.m. on Saturday, after several news agencies had already leaked his choice.

At that time, the Obama campaign sent out text messages to those of his supporters who had registered to receive them.
The text messages said, “Barack has chosen Senator Joe Biden to be our VP nominee…Spread the word!”

Students receiving the text messages held different reactions. Some were awake to get the texts while others, like Cohen, were woken up by their cell phones.

“I wasn’t too happy,” Cohen laughed.

Sophomore Lael Bialek, a member of Students for Barack Obama, picked up the text early Saturday morning after a run.

“I was excited when I got it,” Bialek said. “I think it was a great idea to send out text messages. It’s a good way to keep up excitement for the campaigns and the election.”

On Saturday, Obama’s campaign also sent out Facebook updates and e-mails to his supporters, both of which announced Biden’s nomination and invited recipients to send Senator Biden a personalized electronic welcome note.

Cohen says she appreciates Obama’s use of technology in communicating with his baseline of supporters in the campaign.

“It’s been really effective and made it a lot easier for organizers like myself,” Cohen said. “I think it’s been an instrumental part in the success of his campaign.”

Later in the afternoon on Saturday, Obama and Biden appeared as running mates for the first time at a rally in the old State Capitol in Springfield, Ill.

“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,” Obama said. “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.”

Cohen echoed many of the sentiments Obama expressed in his speech.

“Biden’s extensive experience in the Senate will really help him to build compromises to make sure things get done,” Cohen said. “He’s great on foreign policy, too.”

Because Obama has been criticized by presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain (R-Ariz.) for lacking experience in Washington and foreign affairs, the Obama campaign will likely use Biden’s tenure in the Senate and in the foreign policy arena to bolster the ticket’s credentials in those areas.
Both vice presidential nominees may well raise such issues at the vice presidential debate this fall. If so, Cohen hopes that Biden will be able to send the message that he will help to take the country in a different direction.

“I hope that Biden makes it clear that a vote for the Democrats will be a departure from the policy of the past eight years,” said Cohen.

McCain is expected to announce his vice presidential nominee sometime this week, in time for the Republican National Convention, which begins next week in St. Paul, Minn.