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Joe Biden is a run-of-mill mate

By Rob Gray
Tuesday, August 26, 2008

For the past few weeks I've worried that Barack Obama would surprise us by picking an exciting, break-the-mold type of running mate who reinforced his outsider persona or a Southerner who changed the electoral map. In Joe Biden, he did neither, which gives me and other Republicans some relief.

This is a sit-on-your-lead type of pick, one that makes the Beltway panelists on "Meet the Press" coo but indicates that Obama is playing not to lose rather than pulling out all the stops to win. Biden won't hurt Obama - though the fact that he's a three-plus decade Washington insider raises this possibility - but he doesn't really help him either.

Biden's generally a decent choice in that he provides some balance and has significant foreign policy and Washington experience. As a two-time presidential candidate and Senate chairman, he's held his own in high-stakes debates and forums, and has proven a good verbal knife man, something that's necessary in a VP candidate.

But he's also sort of John Kerry Lite, if that's possible - a longtime senator on the Foreign Relations Committee, but without the war heroics and from a less significant, if not insignificant, state.

Which brings me to Delaware. Is it hubris or a massive dose of foreign policy/military insecurity that caused Obama to have two of his VP finalists, Biden and Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island, come from the smallest and second smallest states in the Union - states that are also reliably Democratic in presidential elections?

A candidate who claims to be a big-time basketball player like Obama should know the importance of playing offense up to the final whistle, even if you're comfortably ahead. In the presidential politics game, this would mean a vice presidential choice from Georgia or similar place that might have given the Democrat a chance to win a Southern state or two.

His defensive selection of Biden tees up an opportunity for John McCain to make an impact pick, in particular a VP candidate who can carry his or her own swing state for the ticket. Will McCain take advantage?

   
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