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Obama Selects Biden For Democratic Ticket

SCOTT SIMON, Host:

This is Weekend Edition from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Check your text messages because you may have gotten the lead story of the day just as soon, if not sooner, than most reporters. Senator Barack Obama revealed his choice for running mate earlier this morning in text messages. Senator Joseph Biden of Delaware will join Mr. Obama on the Democratic ticket. NPR's Don Gonyea joins us from Springfield, Illinois, where there's going to be a rally in about three hours for the Democratic ticket. Don, thanks for being with us.

DON GONYEA: Hi, glad to be here, Scott.

SIMON: You're on the grounds of the Old State Capitol?

GONYEA: Well, I'm in a long queue with hundreds of other reporters, Scott, waiting to get onto the grounds of the Old State Capitol. The event is still about three hours away. The senator - I should say the senators are not here yet, the presumptive nominees. So, what you have now is kind of, you know, all the hubbub that takes place before one of these carefully planned events.

SIMON: We heard a beep. Is your battery dying? Not your personal battery, but the one on your cell phone.

GONYEA: Well, I hope not. It should be good. But I can't tell you how many pagers and buzzers and beepers are within about five feet of me. So it could have been any one of them.

SIMON: Where does the Obama campaign see Senator Biden as making them stronger? I think the phrase they are putting out today is "completing Senator Obama." And where do you, as a reasoned analyst, see some holes left to fill?

GONYEA: Well, in terms of where he makes them stronger, it is, you know, the question that lingers there about Senator Obama, and we see it in poll after poll. If he has a weakness, it's that people think he's such a newcomer. They don't know a lot about him. They're not sure that his time in the Illinois State House, just a few blocks from here, and less than one term in the United States Senate qualifies him to take on the really tough global challenges that are out there.

Senator Biden, of course, six terms in the Senate, a foreign policy expert, very highly regarded in that area. He provides the balance. What we don't know is what holes there (unintelligible) are to fill. I mean, he does not bring, you know, real connections to a big swing state like Ohio or Michigan or Pennsylvania or Florida. So Senator Obama is going to have to, you know, speak to those states largely on his own. Of course, Senator Biden does have a lot of blue-collar appeal that might play well in those states. But that, I think, is still the big question mark.

SIMON: Almost half the delegates meeting in Denver, whom you will meet later, were sent there pledged to Senator Hillary Clinton. What does this do to reconcile their affection for the ticket?

GONYEA: That is another thing that we just don't know at this point. I mean, in the past few days, Senator Clinton has been out there campaigning for Senator Obama, doing events. And, you know, it's fair to say that the response she gets when she urges them to support the ticket and support Senator Obama is not always as strong as the Obama folks would like it to be and, I should add, as strong as they perhaps will need it to be, especially in swing states.

Now, Senator Biden is the kind of guy who would have a lot of natural appeal with those voters. But, you know, it's still going to take time, as the Obama campaign says, and as Senator Clinton herself says, for a lot of these folks to come around. Some are still licking their wounds after her loss.

SIMON: NPR's Don Gonyea at the grounds of the State Capitol - the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois. You know, they invented the corndog there, Don.

GONYEA: I'll try to have one, just for you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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