THE GROFF/ELLISON POLITICAL REPORT

The Biden Factor …

Posted in Uncategorized by groffellison on August 24, 2008

Barack Obama’s pick of Sen. Joe Biden goes on to prove that the Senator from Illinois continues defying the political wisdom of the day.  This is a very strong ticket, a mix of youth wonder and elder statesman; a balance between the old and new; a solid compromise between outer America and inner Washington, D.C.-Beltway.  Obama, first and foremost, has to pick that individual that older White voters, 65 plus can relate to.  Biden can vouch for Obama with that critical elder vote – this is the guy you want campaigning for you in Florida, reeling in old retirees who are the most reliable voters.  Additionally, Biden is sure to annihilate any of Sen. McCain’s potential running mate picks during the Vice Presidential debate. 

Obviously, Biden also brings foreign policy and military affairs gravitas – a perceived weakness for Obama, who can now relay on the Senator from Delaware to be his public expert on issues concerning the Middle East and the situation in Georgia.

Of course, there is the problem called Biden’s mouth.  Some Democrats are cringing for an infamous Biden gaffe; some Republicans are already salivating at past Biden comments, ready to use them for campaign fodder.  But, ultimately, Biden’s mouth may be one major reason Obama picked him.  Obama’s smart; this is not an off-the-cuff decision.  He didn’t just wake up one day and say: “let’s pick Joe.”  Here is a guy that already has a reputation for loyalty, for “looking out,” so to speak, so Obama can be confident that Biden will have his back.  Two: Biden loves to scrap, loves the fight and is very sharp as a rhetorical boxer.  In Biden, we saw, perhaps, the best debate performances during the primary.  He’s concise, to-the-point, crisp – you know where Joe Biden is coming from since Joe Biden keeps it real.  Obama needs this: a person who on one hand can keep it real with the public since that’s what Americans want right now and a partner who, on the other hand, can be straight up with Obama in private and tell him  what  he’s doing right and what he’s doing wrong. 

Biden will be the campaign’s public bulldog, the guy who will say what the nominee won’t say; as long as the message is disciplined (which the Obama campaign is famous for), Biden will be very effective and respected on the campaign trail.  He’s also the perfect campaign distraction, the decoy who can take heat off Obama if used correctly.  While Republicans scramble to respond to every Biden comment, Obama can rise untouched and unscathed because “Joe will handle it.”

The other problem is Biden’s perceived arrogance.  The GOP may try to have a field day with this – two Democratic candidates seen as arrogant and aloof, especially one who was elected at the age of 29.  And, even though that might be somewhat problematic for Democrats, I would caution against underestimating this ticket.  Republicans should not take this pick lightly. Right now, McCain is still employing conventional political tactics against Obama’s out-of-the-box strategic thinking.  That thinking, mixed with legendary operational discipline, is very likely to win this election.

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