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Local Dems speak out on Biden

By Staff | Aug 26, 2008

Emmet County Democrats have offered their comments on Barack Obama’s choice of Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware as running mate.

While some may wonder about Obama’s choice, considering Biden’s centrist position, others see Obama’s pick as a shrewd political move that will provide a key to unlock the gridlock in Washington.

Biden’s resume is indisputable. The seasoned Senate veteran and chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee shatters the public perception that gives Arizona Sen. John McCain a 2-1 lead over Obama as having a better grasp on foreign affairs.

In viewing Obama’s choice of Biden, Emmet County Attorney Doug Hansen, who introduced Obama at his December appearance in Estherville, said he would have favored New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson as an Obama running mate.

“It wasn’t my first choice,” Hansen said of Biden. “I understand there might be some personal issues between him (Obama) and Hillary.” Hansen also noted that the former First Lady and New York senator could bring 18 million votes to the Obama camp.

“I think Biden’s probably fine” as a choice of an Obama running mate though, Hansen said. “I don’t think people vote for president based on a vice president. I guess my choice would have been Richardson.”

While Biden is not necessarily known for change, the Obama mantra, he is a shrewd Washington insider who can likely bring a large bloc of moderates to the Obama campaign. While Biden voted to fund the Iraq war, Hansen, a Vietnam veteran, backed Obama from the beginning because of his early opposition to the war. “I was totally against the war in Iraq,” Hansen said.

Another unanswered question is the degree to which followers of Clinton, for a time considered the apparent choice as a Democratic nominee, will back Obama.

“I guess they’re going to have to just get over it,” Hansen said, noting the clear distinction between the Democratic and Republican philosophies in this election. “I think they’ll come home to roost.”

“I think it was the best possible choice,” said John Nelson, Emmet County Democratic party chair. “He’s got many, many years of experience. He’s a diplomat.”

Nelson also addressed the issue as to which candidate would have been the better running mate – Biden or Clinton.

“I think Biden will be the better choice. If you had asked me a month ago I would have said Biden was the better choice,” Nelson said.

Nelson also offered a forecast as to Clinton’s participation in the Obama campaign.

“I don’t think Hillary will sit in the shadows,” Nelson said. “It doesn’t behoove her if she ever plans to run for major office again. There are some real heavy-duty positions for her in the Senate if she works that way.”

“I think we are pleased and excited to the exposure we’ve had to Joe Biden,” Nelson said. He said he hoped to see more of either Obama or Biden, a “top-shelf” representative for Obama.

The Democratic National Convention opened Monday in Denver to nominate Obama as president and Biden as vice president.

The Republican convention opens on Labor Day in St. Paul, Minn.

McCain has yet to select a running mate.