DNC: Biden shares story of his life; Obama, Clintons reconcile
August 28, 2008
DENVER ” Vice presidential nominee Sen. Joe Biden, known for his verbosity, experience and deep honor for family, also emerged Wednesday as a man divided between his friendship with his longtime colleague and his belief that the country needs dramatic change.
And at the end, he was upstaged by his running mate, Sen. Barack Obama, who made a surprise appearance on stage at the Pepsi Center.
In his first appearance at the Democratic National Convention, Obama thanked the Clintons, which aides quoted in Washington media had said earlier in the week would go miles toward repairing the two families’ prior rift.
“If I’m not mistaken, (Sen.) Hillary Clinton rocked the house last night,” Obama said.
The Clintons smiled and waved from their seat in the stands.
After Biden finished speaking, telling the crowd “it’s America’s time,” his wife, Jill, told the nominee she had a special surprise guest.
“Who?” he said, drawing laughs and deafening cheers when Obama took long strides toward the podium.
After saying a few words, Obama greeted Democratic leaders assembled next to the stage and delegates started dancing to “We Are Family,” the final and most obvious show of party unity of the night.
Biden’s first order of business, however, was to share his life story, draw parallels between it and that of Obama, and honor his mother, whom he said set him down the right path.
Biden, who hails from working-class Catholic roots in Scranton, Pa., and Wilmington, Del., had a bad stutter as a child, but said his mother’s encouragement helped him overcome it.
When he lost his first wife and daughter in a car accident decades ago, his mother, Catherine Eugenia Finnegan Biden, was at his side.
“After the accident, she told me, ‘Joey, God sends no cross that you cannot bear.’ When I triumphed, my mother was quick to remind me it was because of others,” he said. “My mother’s creed is the American creed: No one is better than you. You are everyone’s equal, and everyone is equal to you.”
Except when it comes to politics, maybe.
As delegates held red signs reading “John McCain, More of the Same,” Biden repeatedly said though McCain is a friend, he is wrong.
“John McCain is my friend. We’ve known each other for three decades; we’ve traveled the world together. It is a friendship that goes beyond politics,” he said. “And the personal courage and heroism John demonstrated still amaze me. But I fundamentally disagree with the direction that John wants to take the country.”
He tied McCain to policies of George W. Bush, saying the pair’s foreign policy has dug the country into a “very deep hole with very few friends to help us climb out.”
“Again and again, on the most important national security issues of our time, John McCain was wrong, and Barack Obama was proven right,” he said. “Folks, remember when the world used to trust us? When they looked to us for leadership? With Barack Obama as president, they’ll look to us again.”
He moved to assuage doubts about Obama’s experience, even saying McCain noticed the immediacy with which Obama embraced his new job in 2004.
“When he came to Washington, John and I watched in amazement as he hit the ground running, leading the fight to pass the most sweeping ethics reform in a generation,” Biden said.