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Obama chooses running mate: Joseph Biden

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Sloppy Seconds

Senator Barack Obama has chosen Senator Joseph Biden Jr. of Delaware to be his running-mate, turning to a leading authority on foreign policy and a longtime Washington hand to fill out the Democratic ticket, people told of the decision said.

Obama’s selection ended a two-month search that was conducted almost entirely in secret. It reflected a critical strategic choice by Obama: To go with a running-mate who could reassure voters about gaps in his resume, rather than to pick someone who could deliver a state or reinforce Obama’s message of change.

Biden is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and is familiar with foreign leaders and diplomats around the world. Although he initially voted to authorize the war in Iraq — Obama opposed it from the start — Biden became a persistent critic of President George W. Bush’s policies in Iraq.

The selection was disclosed as Obama moves into a critical part of his campaign, preparing for the party’s four-day convention in Denver starting on Monday. Obama’s aides viewed the introduction of his vice presidential choice– including an afternoon rally Saturday at the old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois, the same place where Obama announced his candidacy on a freezing winter morning almost two years ago, and a tour of swing states – as the beginning of a week-long stretch in which Obama hopes to dominate the stage and position himself for the fall campaign.

Word of Obama’s decision leaked out hours before his campaign was scheduled to inform supporters via text and e-mail messages, and hours after informing two other top contenders for the vice presidential nomination – Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana and Governor Tim Kaine of Virginia – that they had not been chosen.