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Choice of Biden shows Obama campaign refocus

Steven R. Hurst | 8/27/2008, 5:42 a.m.
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. (left), and his vice presidential running mate Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del. (right), wave to supporters alongside their wives, Michelle Obama (second from left) and Jill Biden (second from right), outside the Old State Capitol on Saturday, Aug. 23, 2008, in Springfield, Ill. AP /Jeff Roberson

Through the month of August, McCain whittled away at Obama’s slight lead in the polls with relentless attacks designed to paint the first-term Illinois senator as an inexperienced celebrity-seeking elitist not ready for the White House.

While the 47-year-old Obama fought back blow-for-blow and even adopted some negative tactics himself, his campaign has not adopted the kind of visceral sharpness he is facing from McCain’s operation.

It will be hard to imagine Biden, who is 65, being as low-key as was Obama after McCain charged his opponent this summer with being ready to lose the Iraq war for the sake of winning the presidential election. Obama has sought, as he can, to moderate his responses — some say to avoid looking like an angry black man in an election contest that could put the first African American in the U.S. presidency.

Biden, a working-class Irish Catholic with 35 years in the legislative cauldron of the U.S. Senate, shows none of Obama’s reticence to go for the jugular.

Fresh from introducing Biden, Obama set his sights on the battleground states of Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri and Montana before he accepts the nomination on Thursday at a football stadium in Denver. The Democratic National Convention began Monday with speakers including Obama’s wife, Michelle, and liberal icon Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who is battling a malignant brain tumor.

Democrats quickly coalesced around Obama’s selection of Biden.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Sunday that Biden offered “the full package.” She said he “has challenged the status quo. And he’s even criticized Senator Obama, so it’s a tribute to Senator Obama that he’s not just choosing a yes man but a person who will speak what he believes.”