When Barack Obama presented Joe Biden as his running mate in 2008, it seemed clear what the 36-year Senate veteran was bringing to the ticket: experience. As TIME’s Massimo Calabresi wrote at the time:
In the end, Obama picked him for the simplest of reasons: The six-term Senator from Delaware is strongest in areas where the freshman from Illinois is weakest. Biden’s tenure in the Senate, his foreign policy expertise, his religion, and his suburban middle-class background, all fill gaps in Obama’s own presidential profile.
But four years later, Biden’s importance to the Obama reelection campaign is another thing entirely: where Obama is viewed as cool and reserved, his Vice President is a tenacious, wholehearted fighter for the Administration’s agenda, one with a rare ability to speak to the hearts of American working class voters. As TIME wrote earlier this year:
In truth, there is no one else left doing what Biden does these days: offering himself up, reaching out, sharing the pain like that. Neither Romney nor Obama has this pastoral gene… Biden can make both men look like retail amateurs. He speaks a tribal tongue of neighborhood pride, of us vs. them, of Mom and Dad, God rest their souls, the rich and the rest. Tip O’Neill had a saying: “All politics is local.” Biden prefers the municipal analog, “All politics is personal.” “In my neighborhood, where I come from, where these folks come from, everybody knows they’ve got to chip in,” he says at the lunch counter at Hog Father’s Old Fashioned BBQ outside Pittsburgh. “What they don’t like is turning around and finding they are being played for a sucker.”
Next Sarah Palin, 2008