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Senator Obama Picks Senator Joe Biden For VP Nominee

Aired August 23, 2008 - 13:00   ET


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: It is a big day for Democrats. We're just two hours away from Barack Obama's first joint appearance with his newly selected running mate, Delaware Senator Joe Biden, Obama's choice for vice president. Biden is a 35-year Senate veteran and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
This announcement came earlier this morning while most of us were asleep, but not CNN's Wolf Blitzer, I'm sure. He's joining us from Denver, where the Democratic National Convention convenes on Monday.

Hi, Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Brianna. Sleep, it's really overrated. I don't need all that much, especially when covering a major political story.

This is a big day, a milestone in the race for the White House, as Barack Obama selects Senator Joe Biden to be his running mate. We're going to be hearing from both of these men in the coming hours. They're both getting ready to get into Springfield, Illinois, to appear at the old state capital. That's where Barack Obama launched his bid for the White House some 19 months ago.

And that's also where CNN's Jessica Yellin is standing by right now. Jessica, you're there. You're in Springfield. Hundreds, it not thousands, of people are coming in to get ready for this event. First of all, the weather, what does it looks like?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a gorgeous day right now, Wolf. There had been thunderstorms predicted. We woke up to a very humid morning. But the moisture's passed. So it looks like it will be a pretty event. The folks that have gathered here, there are several hundred in the square behind me, and several hundred more lined up.

Most of those that I've talked to are from Illinois or from the general area. They say they've come because they want to see history made here. And these, of course, are all Democrats who would naturally be excited about this moment and this ticket.

Not only is this the site where Barack Obama first kicked off his presidential bid, and not far from the state legislature where Obama served in the state legislature, it's also where Abraham Lincoln served for many years and held the Lincoln/Douglas debates. It has great significance in American history, and also some parallels the Obama campaign would like us to read into it, or like voters see there. I'll tell you, folks here are very enthusiastic about the Biden pick. I have not heard a lot of criticism. The only, you know, sort hesitation I've heard are people's fears that he tends to sometimes make gaffes. We've all talked about that. But in general, they say it's outweighed by their sense that he's a charismatic guy, and, you know, a guy who's effective, they think, on the stump and as a communicator.

Some people don't know much about him. They don't -- aren't familiar with him and couldn't say. And so that will be the challenge, acquainting the audience with this guy, Joe Biden. Wolf?

BLITZER: And I don't know what you're hearing, but I'm at least hearing from some Hillary Clinton supporters that they're satisfied with Joe Biden, that he, in effect, is somewhat of a peer for Hillary Clinton. I think they would have been much more disappointed, much more angry if he had gone, let's say, with a Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas or perhaps Tim Kaine, the governor of Virginia. She issued a very positive statement, Hillary Clinton, about Senator Joe Biden. And I suppose she's going to try to set the tone for a lot of her supporters.

YELLIN: Yes, I think that's the sense I'm getting, that she is trying to take the lead in being very positive about this, and that she's good with the situation and likes Joe Biden. Of course Biden was a -- has been close to Senator Clinton, stayed out of endorsing either candidate for some time after he dropped out of the race, and has been close with both of them. So for some supporters, it's a relief that it's him. I have talked to some people, though, who are still very frustrated that it was not Senator Clinton.

These, again, are the people who are quite active, quite aggressive. They're the people who e-mail regularly. And their sense was if people didn't want -- if Obama didn't want to choose Clinton because of her unknowns and because of Bill Clinton could go off the reservation, well Biden has the same risks in some ways. Now that's just the view of those very ardent Clinton supporters I've connected with. But certainly not the view reflected by most the people who are here today. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right, thanks, Jessica. Don't go away. We're going to be standing by. We're going to be going to Springfield several times, especially around 3:00 p.m. Eastern, when both of these senators, Senator Obama, Senator Biden, they'll be making their presentations before their supporters there. Huge audience in the United States, indeed around the world.

Brianna, this is an exciting day in the world of politics. It's only going to get more exciting, because next Friday, we're waiting for John McCain to pick his vice presidential running mate on the eve of the Republican convention. We're now on the eve the Democratic convention here in Denver. So this process only just beginning.

KEILAR: That's right, you said sleep is overrated, and you should probably get used to that sleepless state I know that you're probably in, Wolf. And speaking of McCain, it really didn't take the McCain campaign long to react to Joe Biden's selection. McCain spokesman Ben Porritt said, quote, "there has been no harsher critic of Barack Obama's lack of experience than Joe Biden. Biden has denounced Barack Obama's poor foreign policy judgment, and has strongly argued, in his own words, what Americans are quickly realizing, that Barack Obama is not ready to be president."

And the McCain campaign has already rolled out new advertising featuring Obama's new running mate. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What does Barack Obama's running mate say about Barack Obama?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're asked is he ready? You said, "I think he can be ready, but right now I don't believe he is. The presidency is not something that lends itself to on-the-job training."

SEN. JOE BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think that I stand by the statement.


KEILAR: The McCain campaign says the ad will run in key battleground states. And some more reaction now from the McCain camp to Barack Obama's choice of running mate. Campaign adviser Nancy Pfotenhauer had this to say when asked how hard it will be for Senator McCain to say anything negative about Senator Biden, given the close relationship the two have had in the Senate.


NANCY PFOTENHAUER, MCCAIN CAMPAIGN ADVISER: I don't think we need to slam Senator Biden. We just need to discuss what this means about the decision that Obama made to choose him. It clearly showcases that Obama's aware that he lacks the experience, if you will, and the judgment in foreign policy arenas. And I think it also underscores, by the way, the very dangerous instinct both men have, if you will, Senator Biden and Senator Obama have on economic and energy policies.


KEILAR: We can confirm that Senator McCain called Senator Biden this morning to congratulate him on becoming Barack Obama's running mate.

And our Josh Levs has been sorting out political reaction to today's announcement. What's going on?

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now we have a lot of reaction from people who are considered possible candidates for the VP slot. And of course everyone's 100 percent happy. No one has any negative emotions at all, in their public statement, anyway. In their public statements, yes, everything is hunky-dory. Life is peachy king and they're loving it. But let's take a look at what the statements are. Wolf was actually just referring to the one from Hillary Clinton. And, you know, there's a lot of respect for Joe Biden. This is really authentic.

Let's start off with Hillary Clinton's statement. She says this: "in naming my colleague and friend Senator Joe Biden to be the vice presidential nominee, Senator Obama has continued in the best traditions for the vice presidency by selecting an exceptionally strong, experienced leader and devoted public servant. Senator Biden will be a purposeful and dynamic vice president, who will help Senator Obama both win the presidency and govern this great country."

Let's go to Kathleen Sebelius now. She was considered a potential VP for Barack Obama. Let's see what she had to say. She has this statement: "I'm delighted Senator Obama has chosen Joe Biden as his running mate. His extensive experience dealing with foreign policy issues is an asset in these complicated times. He will be a great partner for Barack Obama in bringing about the change so desperately needed for our country and restoring to America our sense of optimism and hope for a brighter future. I'm proud to support this incredible team."

Let's jump over now to Evan Bayh, who also got a lot of attention in this race. A lot of people thought he might have been a runner-up here, might have been one of Barack Obama's top three, as well as we can read from the tea leaves, anyway. Here's what we have from him today, he writes this: "In his most important decision to date, Barack Obama demonstrated the judgment to choose a governing partner who is wise and strong and will help him deliver a change to a country yearning for it. I enthusiastically support the selection of Senator Biden."

Brianna, one of the recent ones we've gotten now comes to us from Senator Dodd, who also considered maybe a potential VP, also had his own bid for the presidency. It didn't work out. Let's go to him finally, right here. He writes this: "with rising gas prices, increasing health care and education costs, a damaged reputation across the world and a struggling economy at home, the American people are ready for change. Barack Obama and Joe Biden represent that change."

So, clearly, what we're seeing, people falling in line behind Joe Biden. A lot of respect for him any way. We're clearly not seeing any faults in the ranks so far.

KEILAR: And speaking of reaction, we actually have new reaction in from Chuck Schumer, Democrat from New York. We just got that in, fourth-ranking Democrat in the Senate. Do we have that? Is that sound or is that a statement? It's sound. Let's listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator, why do you think he did not pick Hillary? SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Well, you know, that's his choice. I always would respect it. Hillary had enormous strengths as a nominee, but he picked a very good choice. The good news for us as Democrats, there were many strong choices and he picked a very, very fine one. I don't think you have to say this one was better and this one was worse. We're very happy with the choice.


KEILAR: So very happy with the choice. We've heard that, right? But he's the senior senator from New York. Hillary Clinton the junior senator from New York, being asked there why wasn't she chosen? Should she have been chosen?

LEVS: Yes, he's one the most powerful Democrats in all of Congress, one of the top ones in the Senate. And he was a very prominent Clinton supporter, as we know. He did push for her candidacy really until the end, when she was still in it. And obviously for him to say this, along with Hillary Clinton, it's all part of an effort to build that kind of unity that the Democrats want to see and need desperately to win.

KEILAR: And this reaction continues to pour in. We know that you'll be keeping an eye on it it, Josh. We'll be checking back in with you. Thank you.

So what are voters -- voters saying about Barack Obama's new running mate? Some people think Joe Biden could be a tough campaigner.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing wrong with having opinions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have to have a big mouth if you're going to be a vice presidential candidate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that's an issue, but I think the same thing -- if McCain goes with Romney, it'll be the same thing and worse. There are plenty of animosity in the past between those two.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, that's my second choice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And who is your first?



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just like her and what she stands for and she's my kind of woman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a little bit of relief to finally have an answer as to who it is going to be. It was interesting to read what the choices would be, and what the pros and cons of them were. I think, in the end, he's made a good decision in terms of someone who does shore up some of the weaknesses that Obama does have and some of the criticisms that people have leveled against him.


KEILAR: Reaction from the streets of Washington, D.C. and Chicago to this announcement that Senator Joe Biden will be Barack Obama's running mate.

And Barack Obama has named, of course, his vice presidential running mate. That's what we've been talking about all day. Now the political reaction to Joe Biden as the Dems head into their convention.


KEILAR: We're less than two hours away from the breaking news story of the day. You're looking at the site of what will be the first joint appearance of Barack Obama and his newly named running mate, Delaware Senator Joe Biden. These are live pictures of the old Illinois state capital in Springfield, where Obama began his campaign some 19 months ago. And Obama and Biden will appear there together officially for the first time at 3:00 p.m. Eastern. You can, of course, watch it live right here on CNN.

And the top story today, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama picking Delaware Senator Joe Biden as his running mate. As we said, they're scheduled to make their debut in less than two hours in Springfield, Illinois at a rally. Again, going to bring it to you here on CNN.

I want to give you some background on Senator Joe Biden. He's 65 years old. He has run twice for president, in 1988 and in 2008, taking his name out of running in January, when he didn't get much support in the Iowa caucuses. Biden is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. This has been something that Republicans have hit Barack Obama for, that he doesn't have foreign policy experience.

Perhaps this will shore up against some of that criticism or concerns of potential voters. Obviously, that's the hope of the campaign. And an Obama spokesman says that Biden was actually informed that he was the vice presidential pick on Thursday. CNN's John King broke that story early this morning, a secret kept for almost two days, pretty amazing in politics, I tell you.

Now, one of the first things that people talk about when someone is a candidate is their health. We've seen this with Barack Obama. We've seen this with John McCain. They've put their health records out there. Let's talk about Senator Joe Biden, because he has a health record himself and let's bring in Dr. Sanjay Gupta. He's joining us on the phone from Baltimore.

Sanjay, Senator Biden was hospitalized for months, several months back in 1998 for surgery for a brain aneurysm. Tell us about that and if this could be of concern in terms of his health being vice president.

VOICE OF SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think it was 1988. He had a headache apparently while he was campaigning for president at that time. And ultimately when he dropped out of the race, he finally went to the doctor. And they found that, in fact, he had not just one aneurysm in his brain, but two aneurysms. And one of them was leaking at that time. So it was a pretty -- a pretty dicey situation.

He had to have pretty immediate surgery at that time. And I think this was around February of 1988, to operate on that aneurysm and to prevent it from leaking. He had a long hospitalization at that time. He had a blood clot that had gone into his lungs, requiring another procedure. And then later on that spring, he had a second brain operation to fix the aneurysm on the other side of his brain. So he had a very -- a very busy spring, I guess, that year medically speaking.

But, you know, it's been a long time. Twenty years have gone by. So it's unlikely, very unlikely from a neurosurgical perspective that they would pose any problem at all.

KEILAR: But just from a layperson's perspective, this is a weakness in the lining of the vein. How you can explain this to us?

GUPTA: Yes, you think about several arteries in the brain, and one of them can develop a blister. So think of it like a blister on the blood vessel. It's weaker than the rest of the blood vessel itself. And the concern there is that because of that weakness, it can start to leak. And in the worst cases, that blister can pop open altogether and blood will start to rush into the brain. And that's called a ruptured aneurysm.

We've seen cases of this recently. But, you know, the treatment for this is to just put a clip across that to prevent that blister from getting any blood into it and it really -- you know, from all that we know from a neurosurgeon's perspective, it really takes care of the problem.

KEILAR: And we'd assume that clip that you just described, that's probably what he had done when he had surgery back in 1988? But it sounds like you're saying it's not really a concern, Sanjay. But if you've had, as they've discovered one and then two -- granted around the same time they discovered these in 1988 -- there's no concern that this could mean there's another weakness or a person is disposed to having another aneurysm?

GUPTA: No, in fact, probably just the opposite. And the reason being that at the time that the aneurysm was diagnosed, they do a lot of studies of the brain. And they look at all of the blood vessels in the brain. Most people that have these aneurysms are born with them. So when he had those studies of his brain done in 1988, and my guess is he had follow-up studies, like most patients do of their brain after this sort of operation, they would have found any other aneurysms. So his likelihood of having another aneurysm is very, very low.

KEILAR: All right, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you very much for shedding some light on that. We appreciate it. And our Wolf Blitzer is following all of the reaction from Denver, of course the site of next week's Democratic National Convention. Let's head to him.

Hi, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Brianna. If anyone knows anything about brain aneurysms, it's Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who himself, as all of our viewers know by now, is a neurosurgeon and an excellent one at that. Very fascinating information.

Let's bring in Hillary Rosen right now. She's our CNN Democratic strategist, knows a lot about what's going on. I want to focus in, not on you, Hillary, but another Hillary. That would be Hillary Clinton. How do you think she's dealing? And more importantly, her millions of supporters, many of whom are still questioning whether they can support Barack Obama, how are they reacting? How are they waking up today? How are they feeling about Biden on the ticket as opposed to her?

HILLARY ROSEN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, we can get Hillary's feelings out of the way pretty quickly, because she never expected to be the vice presidential pick. They didn't participate in the process. I don't think that decision came as a surprise to her at all. And she's just fine with it.

BLITZER: But you say there was no vetting of her.

ROSEN: There was no vetting.

BLITZER: She was never asked to submit her IRS returns or health records.

ROSEN: And might not have even had they been asked.

BLITZER: Why do you say that?

ROSEN: Well, because I think they never thought that it was going to happen.

BLITZER: So you think the Obama people would have just been going through the motions?

ROSEN: Yes, I don't think it was a diss either way. I think they decided to let it go. But her supporters, I think, it's more complicated. And the first thing I think is that she's not really responsible for how all of her supporters feel. So she'll do her job. She'll convince people on Tuesday night that she thinks that Barack Obama will be a great president.

She really likes Joe Biden. They're personal friends. They have been for a long time. I think for Hillary Clinton supporters, they see somebody who's a peer. They see somebody who has a similar amount of experience, maybe a lot more experience on the foreign relation's area, and they can feel good that this choice was made based on who's the best ticket to go forward. BLITZER: And we remember, during the primaries, you liked Hillary Clinton.


BLITZER: Although, you've come around as a good Democrat, and you've fallen behind this ticket. You know Joe Biden.


BLITZER: How worried should Democrats be that there will be a gaffe, some blunder, something he says that could embarrass the Democrats?

ROSEN: You know, this is an intense campaign with a huge amount of scrutiny. Every one of these candidates is going to make a mistake. They already have. I don't think that's a big issue. This is a mature guy with deep intelligence. If he makes mistakes, he corrects them quickly, as we saw in the Democratic debate. So I think that that's just a, you know, kind of an old chess --

BLITZER: And he knows how to deal with the news media too, because he's been doing it for a long time and he does it very well.

ROSEN: Yes, he's going to have a lot of message discipline. But really the authenticity of him I think is what voters are going to be impressed with. When he talks -- you know people call things gaffes, sometimes, when he is basically willing to talk to you, which is something, as you know, John McCain has long had.


ROSEN: And I think that'll be a good balance.

BLITZER: All right, I think so. I think we'll be watching to see how he does. Hillary, stand-by, because we'll be talking more about what's going on. Lots more coverage coming up. Remember, we're standing by, 3:00 p.m. Eastern, these two candidates will be appearing for the first time together as the presidential candidate and the vice presidential candidate for the Democrats. We'll have complete live coverage of that and a lot more.

There's other news we're following on this day as well, including down in Florida. Remnants, Tropical Storm Fay. There is devastation. We'll update you that and a lot more right after this.


KEILAR: You're looking at live pictures from Springfield, Illinois, where in less than two hours, Senator Barack Obama makes his first public appearance with his running mate, Joe Biden. A rally set to begin at 3:00 p.m. Eastern. CNN of course is there, and we will bring you that rally live.

And this was not your father's announcement. Obama actually issued his VP pick by text message. Blackberries, iPhones, everything in between beeping, buzzing, lighting with this alert, quote, "Barack has chosen Senator Joe Biden to be our VP nominee. Watch the first Obama/Biden rally live at 3:00 p.m. Eastern time. Spread the word."

Turning now to the other big story of the day. We're talking about Tropical Storm Fay. It has now killed nine people in Florida. The latest an electrician helping remove a fallen tree. He was killed when he accidentally made contact with a live wire. Fay now slowly moving across Florida's pan-handle toward Alabama and Mississippi.

Reynolds Wolf keeping tabs on this tropical storm that just won't quit, Reynolds.


KEILAR: CNN equals politics, and after breaking the news of Senator Barack Obama's vice presidential pick, we're breaking it all down with the best political team on television.


KEILAR: This is a live picture you're looking at the Old State Capital in Springfield, Illinois. This is where Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama will appear in a short while with his newly selected running mate, Delaware Senator Joseph Biden. This rally is scheduled to begin in about 90 minutes at 3:00 p.m. Eastern. CNN will bring it to you live.

Biden's selection was announced early this morning while most of us were asleep. CNN's John King actually broke this story a little after midnight and then at about 3:00 a.m., the Obama campaign confirmed the report with text messages to supporters.

Wolf Blitzer joining us now from Denver. This was really interesting because we found out, Wolf, that Obama had told Biden he was his pick for number two on Thursday. Almost two days passing until reporters, our John King, were able to break this story. That's amazing.

BLITZER: It is amazing, given the number of people who knew about it and it shows that there was a pretty good discipline in the inside of the Obama camp. And inside Joe Biden's inner circle, that they could keep this as secretive as they did for almost 48 hours which gives the nature of politics these days was pretty good.

Brianna, I want to bring in Carl Bernstein, the noted journalist who's been studying politics for a long time ever since he and Bob Woodward broke the whole Watergate story in the early 1970s. Carl, what does this say about Barack Obama? The fact that he selected -- he selected Joe Biden to be his running mate?

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think, one, it says that here -- there were two people he was really thinking could bring something to the ticket. One was Hillary Clinton. And I think that he disposed of that idea pretty quickly when he looked at the negatives from what I'm told. And that included particularly these "Atlantic Monthly" memos that were kind of like a laser beam into the mind-set of Hillary Clinton's campaign, in which her surrogates and the chief architects to her campaign were willing to look at Obama as un-American. I'm told that that really sat badly wit him, not surprisingly.

But in going to Joe Biden, he's picked someone in the party who was terrific on his feet, who has the respect of fellow senators including Hillary Clinton, who can bring him both a Catholic and a blue-collar vote and who he works easily with and respects.

Also, you know, this is going to be about bringing the convention together. And Biden probably is the best pick he could have gotten from that point of view, if it's not Hillary Clinton. And Hillary Clinton is going to really work hard at this convention, I believe, to try and bring the Democratic Party behind this ticket because she knows that her legacy and Bill Clinton's legacy is at stake as well. They have been about the Clintons stopping the Republican right for years. And that's partly what this election is about.

BLITZER: Will Joe Biden, Carl, be a good vice president?

BERNSTEIN: I'm not a mind reader. I'm not somebody who can do the future. But he certainly brings the right credentials. He has foreign policy experience. He's not an ideologue. He's probably center left in many ways if you were going to try to define him. He's very flexible, except on issues of principle. He does not give in on issues of principle. He's very tough.

He's good out there campaigning and fighting for things that he believes in and that's part of what a vice president does. He goes out to the country and become an advocate for the president. He's very capable. You know I think that it's a very good choice. He's a real grown-up. And also he's got the credentials to go after John McCain, who he knows, likes, and respects in many regards but he doesn't like McCain's politics in many ways.

BLITZER: One final question, Carl, before I let you go. He did really well in the Democratic primary debates, Joe Biden. Chris Dodd for that matter, the other senator from Connecticut, did really well in those debates. But neither could really turn those effective performances into votes in Iowa or New Hampshire. Why is that?

BERNSTEIN: One, I think, it had to with New Hampshire itself and the fact that, by that time, Obama was so dynamic and had gotten his press and Hillary, the fight between Obama and Hillary had been so dramatized that I think that there was very little room for Dodd and Biden.

Yet at the same time neither of them has ever sparked huge numbers of voters outside of their home states. So that remains Joe Biden's big test here. At the same time, he comes from Pennsylvania. And that's a big state that really counts as we've been pointing out all day on this air.

My guess is he's going to do very well campaigning there. He's going to do very well campaigning in these battleground states. And remember, once you're anointed as the presidential nominee or the vice presidential nominee, you come in there with a lot more stature than when you're just scrapping to get the job.

BLITZER: When you're just one of 100 United States senators.

BERNSTEIN: Well also when you're just campaigning -- even in a presidential campaign. He's now the nominee for vice president of the United States. That brings an awful lot to it.

BLITZER: All right. That will be made official here in Denver Wednesday night. Carl, stand by. We have a lot more to talk about. We're getting ready to hear from both of these candidates. Barack Obama, Joe Biden, they'll be speaking in Springfield, Illinois. That's coming up at 3:00 p.m. Eastern. We're getting ready for extensive live coverage before, during and after. Stay with us, much more on this important political day right after this.


KEILAR: And you are looking at some live pictures of the Old State Capital in Springfield, Illinois. Barack Obama announced his presidential bid right there, 19 months ago and right here in a little over an hour, Obama presents officially his running mate, veteran Delaware Senator Joe Biden. CNN will bring you live coverage. It begins at 3 p.m. Eastern.

And here's what we know about the team who helped Obama pick his running mate. Eric Holder and Caroline Kennedy head up the effort. The pair have been vetting vice presidential hopefuls since June. Eric Holder, the first African American to serve as U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia. He was nominated to that post by Bill Clinton back in 1993. He was also the first black to be appointed deputy attorney general. That was in 1997.

And Caroline Kennedy needs little introduction. Best known as the daughter of former president John Kennedy. She's also made a name for herself as an author and lawyer. She's president of the John F. Kennedy Library and she endorsed Obama in a "New York Times'" op-ed piece called "A President Like My Father."

Well, what do you think of Obama's choice of Biden? Our Josh Levs is watching your CNN i-Reports. Josh, what do they say?

LEVS: Well, you know Brianna, days like today I really like to go to i-Report frequently because we're going to hear a lot from the analysts and the pundits and all the rest, but it's democracy. It's all about the voters in the end. We want to get these initial reactions from voters. And we've got a pretty good sampling here. We've gotten some video i-Reports.

We're going to start off right now with something from Clayton Anderson that he sends us weighing in on the selection of Biden.

From Clayton Anderson that he sent us in weighing in on the selection of Biden. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CLAYTON ANDERSON, IREPORTER: Americans always complain that their politicians don't tell them the truth. Obama selects a candidate that shoots straight from the hip and always tells you exactly what he's thinking. During the debates, I admired that tremendously about him. I think Obama was a better presidential candidate. But how can you be mad at him for selecting Joe Biden?


LEVS: Well, some people are ready to answer that question including Amy Quillen. Let's go to what she sent us from i-Report. We have her quote.

"I'm disgusted, and for the first time, I have no clue whom to vote for. I will admit that I was never a big Obama fan. The man talks and talks, but I have never really heard him say much. I know his big message is change, so he picks a running mate that has been in D.C. longer than I have been old enough to vote."

But back on the other side. Ryan Howell wrote us at And Ryan Howell says this. "Senator Obama has made the absolute perfect choice. I'm ready for common sense. Fundamental change in Washington. Obama has always excited and impressed me, but nothing excited me more than waking up and seeing Biden on the ticket."

You can weigh in really easily. Go to the screen that's right behind me, Every time we refresh, it we've seen that we've gotten new ones. It's really easy to get to. It's the main thing right there. We're going to keep looking at them all day. We've got a team here watching your videos, looking at your photos, your stories. Be available after you send it to us. We might call you for some more information and then Brianna, we're going to keep bringing you these quotes throughout the day because again, democracy, voters, what do they think? There you go.

KEILAR: Always good to see what they think, Josh. Thanks for bringing that to us.

You know after 35 years on Capitol Hill, he's been on Capitol Hill for more than half of his life in fact. Senator Joe Biden really a familiar figure inside of the Beltway as we say inside the Beltway. CNN senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, he's in Denver, getting ready for the Democratic National Convention. You have a refresher course on Joe Biden for those people who are not inside the Beltway. Most of America, in fact.

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, Joe Biden is a familiar figure in the Beltway. Though it should be pointed out that he takes the train back to his home in Wilmington, Delaware, every night. So he's not particularly a figure on the Washington social scene.

He's very committed to his family life. He suffered from a terrible tragedy when he was first selected to the United States Senate. That was in 1972. He was elected at quite a young age in 1972. One month after he was elected, before he took office, his wife and his infant daughter were killed in an automobile accident while they were Christmas shopping. It was devastating to Joe Biden.

He eventually was persuaded to go ahead and take his seat in the Senate and he actually took the oath of office by the bedside of one of his sons. He had two sons who were critically injured in that accident. They both survived. He took his oath of office at the bedside in the hospital of one of his sons. So he has a very deep commitment to his family and their lives.

Though, he is of course, has been in Washington for so long, he's a familiar figure in the halls of the Senate and he's had two powerful positions, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and now the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

KEILAR: And, Bill, one of the things we heard the Obama campaign come out and say, really emphasized. They said Biden is a working class guy. He's a man of modest means. Explain that to us and tell us if they're highlighting this correctly.

SCHNEIDER: He's not one of the wealthier members of the Senate. He comes from modest roots. A middle-class roots in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and he has ties to Pennsylvania. In fact, he's been referred to by many as Pennsylvania's third senator because he advocates for the interests of the Middle Atlantic region, including Delaware and Pennsylvania. And he has a lot of ties to unions and to working class voters. The kind of voters where Obama did not do well against Hillary Clinton in the primaries and where he could use a lot help.

KEILAR: All right, CNN senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, joining us from Denver. Thanks for that, Bill.

And let's bring in Jill Hazelbaker. She is a spokeswoman for the McCain campaign. She joins us live from McCain headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. And Jill, some people have said that Barack Obama's selection of Joe Biden would lend a Barack Obama administration some foreign policy credentials, which has been an area that the McCain campaign has hammered Barack Obama on. Do you believe that assertion that this will lend Barack Obama some foreign policy credentials?

JILL HAZELBAKER, MCCAIN SPOKESWOMAN: Well, the selection of Joe Biden is an admission by Senator Obama that he doesn't have the experience to serve as commander-in-chief. One of the things that's holding Barack Obama back in this election is that voters don't think that he's ready to lead. And that's certainly something that we're going to be talking about as we move into the fall.

KEILAR: Let me ask you this, though. Some say that a vice president can be the closest confidante of the president. Barack Obama, of course, emphasizing that what he lack, perhaps in experience, he has in judgment. But if there is Joe Biden with a lot of experience, he's the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, couldn't he lend some skill to a Barack Obama administration?

HAZELBAKER: Well, in America, we only have one president. And that's going to be John McCain. He's the candidate who has the most experience in this election. He's ready to lead. His entire lifetime has prepared him for this moment.

KEILAR: Now McCain, he called to congratulate Biden. They're friends, right?

HAZELBAKER: They are. They've served together in the United States Senate for a number of years and they're very friendly. He called this morning. It was a brief phone call and senator and Ms. McCain both offered their congratulations.

KEILAR: What else did he say?

HAZELBAKER: I'm not going to get into the details of the call. It was a private and personal phone call. Senator McCain welcomed him into the race.

KEILAR: Tell us what should we be expecting when Senator McCain makes his announcement? What is he looking for in a running mate?

HAZELBAKER: Well, you know Senator McCain is going to make a selection. Somebody who is prepared to lead. Someone who could be a partner in governing this country. He's going to pick someone who is a person of principle. I know that there's a lot of speculation right now, but hopefully that's coming to an end here in the next week or so.

KEILAR: All right, Jill Hazelbaker, spokeswoman for the McCain campaign. Thanks so much for joining us.

HAZELBAKER: Thank you.

KEILAR: We appreciate your time.

And it is the countdown to the convention, the Democratic Convention. But before that, a much-anticipated joint speech from presidential hopeful, Senator Obama and his pick for second in command. CNN equals politics.


KEILAR: And at this hour, we're keeping an eye on the Old State Capitol in Springfield, Illinois. Soon, Senator Barack Obama will show up along with Senator Joe Biden and Obama will announce that Biden officially is his running mate. News we broke here early this morning on CNN. This going to happen in a little over an hour. Obama presenting his running mate. And we will bring it to you live right here on CNN at 3:00 p.m. Eastern. We're back in just a moment.


KEILAR: Well, now that the Democrats have a vice presidential candidate, it's time to have a convention. CNN's Joe Johns takes a look at what will be at stake when the Democrats convene in Denver on Monday.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If you thought political conventions don't really matter anymore, you'd be wrong. Yes, it's choreographed to the minute; it's a controlled love fest. But in a controlled environment like this, the candidates can make or break themselves on their salesmanship. Barack Obama may be the one with the most to gain or lose.

PETER FENN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: He's introducing himself again to the American people. He's putting his message out of change, of the future versus the past. So the eyes are going to be, I think, on Obama, who is less well known, less well defined than is John McCain.

JOHNS: Polls show Obama needs to win over skeptical voters next week. Analysts say he needs to do that by showing them who he is and that it's safe to put him in the White House.

He also needs to keep it all together with Hillary Clinton and her supporters. And that's what Democrats are talking about when they talk about unity here.

THOMAS HOLBROOKE, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN: Folks the media, no disrespect intended, are going to be looking for signs of disharmony and in part because there's really not much else happening there. And one of the potential stories is what if there's a big blowup with Clinton delegates.

JOHNS (on camera): Then there's the phenomenon people in politics only talk about every four years or so. It's called the bounce. That's the spike in the polls a presidential candidate gets after being anointed at a political convention.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Reporting for duty.

JOHNS: Professor Thomas Holbrooke of the University of Wisconsin has studied the bounce since back to the 1960s. He predicts Obama should get one.

HOLBROOKE: This convention gives him a chance to drive home the message, the message of the last eight years, the message about him as an alternative, the agent of change.

And because he's behind where we would expect him to be in the polls right now, I expect him to get a more substantial bump than he would, let's say, if he were running at 55, 56 percent in the polls.

JOHNS: For McCain, the challenge is to separate himself from the Bush administration without alienating Bush supporters. But that convention is still more than a week away, and we know what they say about a day in politics.

Joe Johns, CNN, Denver.

(END VIDEOTAPE) KEILAR: The other story that we're covering today, Fay. She just won't go away. This tropical storm made a fourth landfall in Florida today.

CNN's Susan Candiotti reporting from Panama City Beach.


SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: For vacationers at Panama City Beach, Florida, maybe it's a washout for the weekend, but there has been a far greater impact for thousands and thousands of Floridians who have had to put up with Tropical Storm Fay for about a week now.

This is an historic storm. It has made four landfalls starting last month across the Florida Keys. Then it made landfall again on the west coast of Florida, crisscrossed the state to the northeast end and now is in the middle of passing over the Florida Panhandle. Now the winds here haven't been too bad in this part of the state but they are predicting gusts of up to 60 miles an hour and the possibility of up to 12 inches of rain.

On Friday, more than 100 residents of a nursing home near Jacksonville had to be evacuated by boat. No one was injured. All of those residents were moved to other facilities. No injuries as we said.

However in the state of Florida, more than 1,500 homes have been damaged. Of course, it has been declared a disaster area and relief will be on its way from FEMA. Fay may not be a hurricane, but tropical storms can be just as dangerous. At least nine deaths have been attributed to this storm in Florida, some of them due to flooding.

And that's why people have to be especially careful when they go into the surf if at all. Others caused by traffic accidents. Another death due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

So people here are hoping that the storm will finally pass through the state when the weekend is over and move on out. The message here may be Fay, Fay go away but there's still a lot of cleanup to be done.

Susan Candiotti, CNN, Panama City Beach, Florida.


KEILAR: Well, it is almost show time in Springfield. In a little over an hour, Barack Obama presents his running mate officially. Fellow Senator Joe Biden, it's all going to happen in front of the Old Illinois State Capitol.

Let's tell you a little bit about Senator Joe Biden. He is the U.S. senator, one of the U.S. senators from Delaware elected in 1972. He's in his sixth term. He was elected when he was 29. He's now 65- years-old. He ran for president in 1988 and also this year in 2008. And the next hour here on CNN begins, an election special, with Wolf Blitzer.