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Obama and Biden Speak in Illinois; Examining the Democratic Ticket

Aired August 23, 2008 - 15:00   ET


AMY HOLMES, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Also getting back to Senator Biden's, one of his Achilles heels, when he went back in '88, when he was running for president of the United States, he was in a group of people and a voter was asking him a very pressing point about his credentials, and Biden said to him, I think I have a higher I.Q. than you and then went on to exaggerate his own record. He was caught on that. He later confessed to the "New York Times," I exaggerate when I'm angry. I see that as being a line of attacking republicans when they can press him, get his back up and we know that he can respond in ways that are not necessarily flattering to him.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: You know, I want to bring Roland Martin into this conversation, Leslie Sanchez as well. Momentarily they're going to be walking out. You see, right there in the middle of the screen, Michelle Obama, Dick Durbin, the senior senator from Illinois, who has been pushing, helping Barack Obama from the very, very beginning. He introduced him back in 2004 when Barack Obama gave the keynote address at the democratic convention in Boston. A lot of us remember that as well. We earlier saw by the way, Jill Biden, the wife of Senator Joe Biden. She's there already. The two candidates, presidential, vice- presidential candidate, momentarily they will be walking out.

The issue of race, Roland, and the decision to bring in Joe Biden, what goes through your mind?

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, look, in reality is that you can't get over the fact that Senator Barack Obama is indeed an African-American. He's running. He's got somebody like Joe Biden who is a white male, who appeals to that demo, in terms of white working class lunch bucket, however you want to phrase it. And so, he's there. I don't think you can ignore that but also Wolf, I think what jumps out is I see Joe Biden and Barack Obama as fire and ice. And that is, you don't just choose somebody who complements you or who's (thrifty) as you in a weak area, you also get somebody who can bring something different. Joe Biden has cashed in. I mean, he brings all that to it.


BLITZER: Here they come now. Roland, hold on a second. Here we see ... hold on. Here he is, Barack Obama. He's got his casual look right now. No sport coat, no jacket. He's got the shirt with the sleeves rolled up. He's ready to go. He's pumping up the crowd. Right now simply by shaking hands, doing a little meet and greet. He's going to go up there and he's going to, we're told, introduce his vice presidential running mate to this crowd and it's going to be an exciting moment for these democrats who have gathered in Springfield, a lot of history here, Gloria Berger.

GLORIA BERGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It is and I think what we're going to see is if Barack Obama has been portrayed as an elitist in this campaign, he's going to portray Joe Biden as the anti- elitist, somebody who understands working class America, somebody who's been in Washington for an awfully long time but goes home every night on the train to the state of Delaware. And understands the needs of real Americans. And I think he's going to say that he can transverse it really well and be at home in Washington and also be at home with real people.

BLITZER: All right. Let's listen in. I think he's about to get going here. Senator Barack Obama, the democratic presidential candidate, he will speak first. And then senator Joe Biden will speak second. And as John King just pointed out, that's probably the last time that Obama will introduce Biden. Let's listen in briefly.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is good to be back in Springfield. Feels like I'm coming home. It's a little warmer than last time we were here together. I want to begin by just thanking a few people. I appreciate - I love you back. I want to begin by thanking somebody who could not have been a better friend, a better mentor, somebody who has looked out for me ever since I got to Washington and looked out for me when I was campaigning here in Illinois. I love this man. And he is one of your own, please give a big round of applause to the senior senator from the great state of Illinois, Dick Durbin!

And his lovely wife, Loretta. I also want to acknowledge your great mayor of Springfield, Tim Devlin. I want to thank Reverend Glenn (Vendercourt) for the invocation. I want to thank Jim Fraser, a veteran who led the pledge. I want to thank Craig Daniels and Megan Ryan who are my campaign organizers. And finally, just a small personal prerogative, one of our colleagues, a great congresswoman, and an outstanding warrior for justice, Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs- Jones passed away a few days ago. Her funeral is today. And I just want to let her family know that our thoughts and prayers are with them and I know that she has gone to a better place.

Now, 19 months ago, it's been 19. On a cold February day, it was cold. Right here on the steps of the old state capitol, I stood before you to announce my candidacy for president of the United States. We started this journey with a simple belief. The American people were better than their government in Washington. A government that has fallen prey to special interests and policies that have left working people behind.

As I've traveled to towns and cities, farms and factories, front porches and fair grounds, in almost all 50 tats, that belief has been strengthened. Because at this defining moment in our history, with our nation at war, our economy in recession, we know that the American people cannot afford four more years of the same failed policies and the same old politics in Washington. We know that the time for change has come.

For months, I've searched for a leader to finish this journey alongside me. And to join me in making Washington work for the American people. I search for a leader who understands the rising costs confronting working people. And we'll always put their dreams first. A leader who sees clearly the challenges facing America in a changing world. With our security and standing set back by eight years of a failed foreign policy. A leader who shares my vision of an open government that calls all citizens, democrats, republicans and independents to a common purpose.

Above all, I searched for a leader who is ready to step in and be present. Today, I have come back to Springfield to tell you that I found that leader. A man with a distinguished record. A man with fundamental decency. And that man is Joe Biden. Joe Biden is that rare mix. For decades, he's brought change to Washington but Washington hasn't changed him. He's an expert on foreign policy whose heart and values are firmly rooted in the middle class. He's stared down dictators and spoken out for American cops and firefighters. He is uniquely suited to be my partner as we work to put our country back on track.

Now, I could stand here and recite a list of Senator Biden's achievements because he is one of the finest public servants of our time, but first I want to talk to you about the character of the man that will be standing next to me. Joe Biden's many triumphs have come only after great trial. He was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania. We got some Scranton folks here. His family didn't have much money. Joe Senior worked different jobs from cleaning boilers to selling cars, sometimes moving in with the in-laws or working weekends to make ends meet. But he raised his family with a strong commitment to work and to family, to the Catholic faith and to the belief that in America you can make it if you try.

Those are the core values that Joe Biden has carried with him to this day. And even though Joe Senior is not with us, I know that he is proud of Joe today. It might be hard to believe when you hear him talk now but as a child, Joe Biden had a terrible stutter. They called him b-Biden. But he picked himself up and he worked harder than the other guy and got elected to the Senate, a young man with a family and a seemingly limitless future. Then tragedy struck. Joe's wife, Neilia, and their little girl, Naomi, were killed in a car accident and their two boys were badly hurt. When Joe was sworn in as a senator, there was no ceremony in the capitol, instead he was standing by his sons in the hospital room where they were recovering. He was 30 years old.

Tragedy tests us. It tests our fortitude, and it tests our faith. Here's how Joe Biden responded. He never moved to Washington. Instead, night after night, week after week, year after year, he returned home to Wilmington on a lonely Amtrak train when his Senate business was done. He raised his boys. First as a single dad. Then alongside his wonderful wife, Jill, who works as a teacher. He had a beautiful daughter. Now his children are grown and Joe is blessed with five grandchildren. He instilled in them such a sense of public service that his son Bo, who is now Delaware's attorney general is getting ready to deploy to Iraq. He still takes that train back to Wilmington every night. Out of the heartbreak of that unspeakable accident, he did more than become a senator, he raised a family. That is the measure of the man who is going to be the next vice president of the United States of America. That is the character of Joe Biden. Now, years later, Senator Biden would face another brush with death when he had a brain aneurysm. On the way to the hospital, they didn't think he was going to make it. They gave him slim odds to recover. But he did. He beat it. And he came back stronger than before.

Maybe it's this resiliency, this insistence on overcoming adversity that accounts for Joe Biden's work in the Senate. Time and again, he has made a difference for the people across this country who work long hours and face long hours. This working class kid from Scranton and Washington has always been a friend to the underdog and all who seek a safer and more prosperous America to live their dreams and raise their families.

15 years ago, too many American communities were plagued by violence and insecurity. So Joe Biden brought republicans and democrats together to pass the 1994 crime bill, putting 100,000 cops on the streets and starting an eight-year drop in crime across the country. For far too long, millions of women who suffered abuse in the shadows. Joe Biden wrote the Violence Against Women Act so every woman could have a place to turn for support. The rate of domestic violence went down dramatically and countless women got a second chance at life.

Year after year, Joe Biden has been at the forefront of the fight for judges who respect the fundamental rights and liberties of the American people. College tuition that's affordable for all. Equal pay for women and a rising minimum wage for all. And family leave policies that value work and family. Those are the priorities of a man whose work reflects his life and his values. That same strength of character is at the core of his rise to become one of America's leading voices on national security.

He looked Sloboban Milosevic in the eye and called him a war criminal and then helped shape policies that would end the killing in the Balkans and bring Milosevic to justice. Joe Biden passed laws to lock down chemical weapons and let the push to bring Europe's newest democracies into NATO. Over the last eight years, he has been a powerful critic of the catastrophic bush-McCain foreign policy and a voice, a voice for a new direction that takes the fight to the terrorists and ends the war in Iraq responsibly.

He recently went to Georgia where he met quietly with the president and came back with a call for aid and a tough message for Russia. Joe Biden is what so many others pretend to be, a statesman with sound judgment who doesn't have to hide behind bluster to keep America strong. So Joe Biden won't just make a good vice president, he will make a great vice president.

After decades, after decades of steady work across the aisle, I know he'll be able to help me turn the page on the ugly partisanship in Washington. So we can bring democrats and republicans together to pass an agenda that works for the American people. And instead of secret energy task forces attacking big oil and a vice president that twists the facts and shuts the American people out, I know that Joe Biden will give us some real straight talk.

I have seen this man work. I have sat with him as he chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and then by his side on the campaign trail. And I can tell you that Joe Biden gets it. He's that unique public servant who is at home in a bar in Cedar Rapids and the corridors of the capitol. In the VFW hall in (Congress) and at the center of an international crisis. That's because he's still that scrappy kid from Scranton who beat the odds, the dedicated family man and committed Catholic who knows every conductor on that Amtrak train to Wilmington. That's the kind of fighter who I want by my side in the months and the years to come.

That's what it's going to take to win the fight for good jobs and let people live their dreams. Attack how the rewards work instead of wealth and health care that is affordable and accessible to every American family. That's what it's going to take to forge a new energy policy that frees ourselves from our dependence on foreign oil and $4 a gallon gasoline at the pump while creating new jobs and new industries. That's what's going to take to put an end to a failed foreign policy that's based on bluster and bad judgment.

We renew America's security and standing in the world. We know what we're going to get from the other side. Four more years of the same out of touch policies that created an economic disaster at home. A disastrous foreign policy abroad. Four more years of the same divisive politics that's all about tearing people down instead of lifting the country up. We cannot afford more of the same.

I am running for president because that's a future I don't accept for my daughters and I don't accept it for your children and I don't accept it for the United States of America. It is time for the change that the American people need now with Joe Biden at my side, I am confident we can take this country in a new direction that we are ready to overcome the adversity of the last eight years, that we won't just win this election in November, we will restore that fair shot at your dreams that is at the core of who Joe Biden is and I am and what America is as a nation.

So let me introduce to you the next president - the next vice president of the United States of America, Joe Biden!

SEN. JOE BIDEN, VICE-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, it's great to be here. On the steps of the old state house in the land of Lincoln. President Lincoln once instructed us to be sure to put your feet in the right place, then stand firm. Today in Springfield, I know my feet are in the right place. And I'm proud to stand firm with the next president of the United Sates of America, Barack Obama!

Folks, Barack and I come from very different places, but we share a common story, an American story. He was the son of a single mom, a single mom who had to struggle to support her son and her kids. But she raised them, she raised them to believe in America. To believe that in this country there is no obstacle that could keep you from your dreams if you're willing to work hard and fight for it.

I was different. I was an Irish Catholic kid from Scranton with a father who, like many of yours, in tough economic times fell on hard times. But my mom and dad raised me to believe the same, Barack, you heard me say before, my dad repeated and repeated, he said, Champ, it's not how many times you get knocked down, it's how quickly you get up. It's how quickly you get up.

Ladies and gentlemen, that's your story. That's America's story. It's about if you get up, you can make it. That's the America Barack Obama and I believe in. That's the American dream. And ladies and gentlemen, these are no ordinary times. And this is no ordinary election. Because the truth of the matter is, and know it, that American dream under eight years of Bush and McCain, that American dream is slipping away. I don't have to tell you that. You feel it in your lives. You see in your shrinking wages and the cost of everything from groceries to health care, to college, to filling up your car at the gas station. It keeps going up and up and up. And the future keeps receding further and further and further away, as you reach for your dreams.

You know, ladies and gentlemen, it is not a mere political saying. I say with every fiber of my being I believe we cannot, as a nation, stand four more years of this. We cannot afford to keep giving tax ruts after tax cuts to big corporations and the wealthiest Americans while the middle class America, middle class families are falling behind and their wages are actually shrinking. We can't afford four more years of a government that does nothing while they watch the housing market collapse.

As you know, it's not just the millions of people facing foreclosure, it's the tens of millions of your neighbors who are seeing the values of their homes drop off a cliff along with their dreams. Ladies and gentlemen, your kitchen table is like mine, you sit there at night before you put the kids - after you put the kids to bed and you talk. You talk about what you need. You talk about how much you're worried about being able to pay the bills. Well, ladies and gentlemen, that's not a worry John McCain has to worry about. It's a pretty hard experience. He'll have to figure out which of the seven kitchen tables to sit at.

Folks, again, it's not political sloganeering when I say, we literally can't afford four more years of non-energy policy written by and for the oil companies, making us more and more dependent from hostile nations on our ability to run this country and literally, not figuratively, literally putting America's security at risk. We can't afford four more years of a foreign policy that has shredded our alliances and sacrificed our moral standing around the world.

Ladies and gentlemen, that's the bad news. But there is good news, America. We don't have to have four more years of George W. Bush and John McCain. The next president of the United States is going to be delivered to the most significant moment in American history since Franklin Roosevelt. He will have such an incredible opportunity, incredible opportunity, not only to change the direction of America, but literally, literally to change the direction of the world.

Barack Obama and I believe, we believe with every fiber of our being that our families, our communities, as Americans, there's not a single solitary challenge we cannot face if we level with the American people. And I don't say that to say history, history has done it. When have Americans ever, ever, ever, ever let their country down when they've had a leader to lead them?

Ladies and gentlemen, we believe that our tomorrows will be better than our yesterdays and we will believe, we believe we'll pass onto our children an even better life than the one we lived. That literally has been the American way and it can be that way again. But there's a big missing piece. The missing piece is leadership. In all of my time in the United States Senate, and I want you to know there's only four senators senior to me but Barack, there's still 44 older than me. I want you to know that part.

But all kidding aside, of all my years in the senate, I have never in my life seen Washington so broken. I've never seen so many dreams denied and so many decisions deferred by politicians who are trying like the devil to escape their responsibility, and accountability. But ladies and gentlemen, the reckoning is now. And the reality, the reality is that we must answer the call or we will risk the harshest version and verdict of history. These times call for a total change in Washington's world view. These times require more than a good soldier, they require a wise leader.

A leader, a leader who can deliver, a leader who can deliver the change we need. I'll say it straight up to you, John McCain and the press knows this, he's genuinely a friend of mine. I've known John for 35 years, he served our country with extraordinary courage and I know he wants to do right by America. But the harsh truth is, ladies and gentlemen, you can't change America when you boast -and these are John's words, "the most important issues of our day, I've been totally in agreement and support of President Bush."

Ladies and gentlemen, that's what he said. You can't change America. When you support George Bush's policies 95 percent of the time. You can't change America when you believe and these are his own words that in the Bush administration we've made great progress economically. You can't change America and make things better for our senior citizens when you signed on to Bush's scheme of privatizing social security. You can't change America and give our workers a fighting chance when after three million manufacturing jobs disappear. You continue to support tax breaks for companies who ship our jobs overseas.

You can't change America and end this war in Iraq when you declare, and again these are John's word, "No one has supported President Bush in Iraq more than I have."

Ladies and gentlemen, you can't change America, you can't change America when you know your first four years as president will look exactly like the last eight years of George Bush's presidency. My friends...

CROWD: Yes we can! Yes we can! Yes we can!

BIDEN: My friends -- yes, we can. My friends, I don't have to tell you, this election year the choice is clear. One man stands ready to deliver change we desperately need. A man I'm proud to call my friend. A man who will be the next president of the United States, Barack Amer...


You know, you learn a lot of things being up close with a guy. You learn...

CROWD: Obama! Obama! Obama!

BIDEN: Let me tell you about Obama. You learn a lot about a man when you campaign with him, when you debate him 12 or 13 times, when you hear him speak, when you see how he thinks and you watch how he reacts under pressure. You learn a lot about his strength of his mind, and I think even more importantly, the quality of his heart.

Ladies and gentlemen, no one knows better than I do that presidential campaigns are crucibles in which you're tested and challenged every single day. And over the past 18 months, I've watched Barack meet those challenges with judgment, intelligence, and steel in his spine.


I've watched as he's inspired millions of Americans, millions of Americans to this new cause.

And during those 18 months, I must tell you, frankly, I've been disappointed in my friend, John McCain, who gave in to the right wing of his party and yielded to the very swiftboat politics that he so -- once so deplored. And folks, campaigns for presidents are a test of character and leadership. And in this campaign, one candidate, one candidate has passed that test.


Barack has the vision, and what you can't forget, you know his vision, but let me tell you something. He also has the courage, the courage to make this a better place, and let me tell you something else, this man is a clear-eyed pragmatist who will get the job done.


I watch with amazement as he came to the Senate. I watch with amazement. He made his mark literally from day one reaching across the aisle to pass legislation to secure the world's deadliest weapons, standing up to some of the most entrenched interests in Washington, risking the wrath of the old order to pass the most sweeping ethics reform in a generation.

But I was proudest, I was proudest, when I watched him spontaneously focus the attention of the nation on the shameful neglect of America's wounded warriors at Walter Reed Army Hospital. Ladies and gentlemen, I know I'm told I talk too colloquially, but there's something about this guy. There's something about this guy. There's something about Barack Obama that allows him to bring people together like no one I have worked with and seen. There's something about Barack Obama that makes people understand if they make compromises they can make things better.

It's been amazing to watch him. But then again, that's been the story of his whole life. I end where I began. This is a man raised by a single mother who sometimes was on food stamps as she worked to put herself through school, by grandparents from the prairies of Kansas who loved him, a grandfather, a grandfather who marched in Paton's Army and then came home and went to college on the G.I. Bill, and a grandmother, a grandmother with just a high school education, started off working in a small bank in the secretarial pool and rose to be vice president of that bank.

Ladies and gentlemen, ladies and gentlemen, these remarkable people gave Barack Obama the determination and drive, and, yes, the values to turn down that big job on Wall Street, to come to Chicago's south side, where he helped workers help themselves after the steel mills had been shut down and the jobs disappeared.

Ladies and gentlemen, my wife Jill, who you'll meet soon, is drop-dead gorgeous. My wife Jill, who you'll meet soon, she also has her doctorate degree, which is a problem, but all kidding aside, my Jill, my Jill, my wife Jill and I are honored to join Barack and Michelle on this journey, because that's what it is, it's a journey. We share the same values, the values that we had passed on to us by our parents and the values Jill and I are passing on to our sons Beau and Hunter and Ashley.

Ladies and gentlemen, I'm here for their future. I'm here for the future of your kids. I'm here for everyone I -- I'm here for everyone I grew up in Scranton, Pennsylvania, who's been forgotten and everybody in Claymont, Delaware, in Wilmington where I lived. I'm here for the cops and the fire fighters, the teachers and the line workers, the folks who live -- the folks whose lives are the measure of whether the American dream endures.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is no ordinary time, this is no ordinary election. And this may be our last chance to reclaim the America we love, to restore America's soul. Ladies and gentlemen, America gave Jill and me our chance, it gave Barack and Michelle their chance to stand on this stage today. It's literally incredible.

These values, this country gave us that chance. And now it's time for all of us, as Lincoln said, to put our feet in the right place and to stand firm. Ladies and gentlemen, it's time to elect Barack Obama president. It's our time. It's America's time. God bless America, and may he protect our troops.


BLITZER: There's the ticket, the Democratic ticket, Barack Obama and Joe Biden, the first time they've appeared together as the new Democratic ticket. Their wives are coming on the stage right now, Michelle Obama and Jill Biden. You heard Senator Biden say his wife is drop-dead gorgeous. There she is, she's also got a doctorate in education, she's a school teacher, as well. They're obviously all very excited.

Candy Crowley is there on the scene for us.

Candy, you listened to both of them make their presentation. What do you think?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was interesting to me, because as far as I can remember, Barack Obama never mentioned the word John McCain, whereas Joe Biden took out after him on a number of issues. So, I think Joe Biden slipping very easily into the attack- dog role which will be required of him generally as they go out on this campaign.

As we know, Barack Obama has run this campaign on a different kind of politics, a different sort of Washington, so Joe Biden tried to kind of bridge that gap also saying that he thought it was time to change Washington, which is an interesting thing for someone who's been there for 35 years.

Nonetheless, the crowd here, as you can imagine, loved it, they are lined up for blocks and blocks, many of them, who were also here 18, 19 months ago to see Barack Obama launch his campaign.

This is the last tirm, by the way, you're going to see this ticket until that Thursday night in Denver where they will come out, of course, having both been proclaimed the nominees of the party. So, Joe Biden now headed back to Delaware to work on his speech and, "get things together."

As one aide told me, Barack Obama is getting ready for a tour through some of those stats that may be swing states. I think you're going to see them now, I'm not sure if the cameras are catching it, but they are just swamped by people reaching out with their cell phones and their hands trying to get to these people, right now. Again, a huge, huge crowd here, Wolf.

Hearing both these candidates basically give each other's resume. You saw Joe Biden immediately start talking about working class Americans, you saw Barack Obama when he began to introduce Joe Biden, talking about his working class roots and that's where this campaign really hopes Biden can be helpful and that is in those areas where white working class, in particular, males are having trouble coming around to the Obama campaign, those are the so-called Hillary voters, that's where they think that Joe Biden can be valuable in at least drawing attention to Barack Obama and vouching for him, if you will -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Fair point. John King, do you think we heard enough references to Scranton, Pennsylvania today from Barack Obama and from Joe Biden?

KING: Wait, Joe Biden is from Scranton?


KING: Look, the very clear message here from Joe Biden, they said it over and over again, and we're going to make a little fun of it, but you know, repetition is one of the rules of politics. If you want to make a point, say it over and over and over again, "he's a scrappy kid from Scranton" and he proved that, today. He came in here, Candy is dead right, they're going after -- and Joe Biden said at the end: I'm for the firefighters, I'm for the policemen, I'm for the little guy struggling in the factory. You could cut that down and say I'm for the Hillary voter, because those are the Hillary voters in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in Bethlehem Pennsylvania, in Allentown, Pennsylvania, in southeast Ohio, in hills of West Virginia and of Virginia and they are the voters that Barack Obama is having the hardest time convincing to come into the Democratic fold.

Do, Joe Biden served, crystal clear -- Candy used just the right word, he's going to go into these places and vouch for Barack Obama because there are a lot of doubts about Barack Obama.

And No. 2, he proved he's a happy warrior, Joe Biden, we've seen that throughout his career in the Senate, with a smile on his face, he's my friend, John McCain, I love him, and he's just going to make the point, he's dead wrong. Wolf, you could tell from this Joe Biden's mission is to Velcro or maybe superglue John McCain to George W. Bush for the next nine weeks.

BLITZER: We heard him, say, Gloria, we don't want to have four more years of George Bush and John McCain as if there's absolutely no difference between these two Republicans.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Did you get that message, too.

BLITZER: I got it several times, yeah.

BORGER: You know, Joe Biden is the character witness for Barack Obama in many ways and that's what he was doing today. Obama introduced him by telling us about why he would be a good character witness. This was all about their shared values. And because Barack Obama has had some trouble on that front, lots of Americans believe that they don't understand his values. And so they want you to see his values through Joe Biden's values.

And also, he is going to take on John McCain, I mean the line about Americans sitting around their kitchen table trying to figure out how to pay their bills, but John McCain has to figure out which of his seven kitchen tables he needs to sit at? You're going to hear that line over an over again.

BLITZER: Let me go out toe Springfield, Jessica Yellin is out there there. She's been there all day, as well.

The crowd is enthusiastic, they're going to milk this for a while, they're shaking hands, certainly they have an opportunity to set the stage for the next stage which is right where we are right here in Denver, the Democratic National Convention.

Jessica, when you were watching and listening, what did you think?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I thought that this is the image that the Obama campaign wants. And right now, I don't know if you can see it, Obama just grabbed a baby, it's the perfect politician's image. But, I'll tell you, Wolf, already, the McCain campaign is going after them and after comments today, I got, I was contacted by somebody in the McCain campaign pointing out that Barack Obama accidently introduced Joe Biden as the next president of the United States, clearly a Freudian slip, they're saying at the McCain headquarters, and Obama corrected himself, but the take away over there in McCainland is that Barack Obama sounded as though this is a quote, "he turned over the top spot on the ticket today to his new mentor when he introduced Joe Biden as the president. The reality is that nothing has changed since Joe Biden made his assessment when Barack Obama is not ready to lead."

So, clearly that the message the opponent is going to continue to drive home and try to suggest not only that even Biden once believed Obama isn't ready to leave, but that Biden isn't being truly truthful, that you can't believe him because he's a politician that will say and do anything. That's how this is going to shape up as Biden starts to go after John McCain, they're coming right back at him with an aggressive attack -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yeah, he slipped a little bit. He said at the end of his speech, I'm ready to introduce the next president, but then he quickly caught himself, the next vice president of the United States. And as soon as he said that, well you know the McCain campaign is going to have something to talk about and they wasted no time, obviously, issuing their statement right away.

I want to bring Hillary Rosen in, our Democratic strategist; she was watching and listening very carefully.

One point he made, Joe Biden, he said I've been a friend of John McCain's for 35 years, but he said, you know, he's not going to be a good president when he agrees with George W. Bush 95 percent of the time.

HILLARY ROSEN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, the thing that he did, I think, with his attack on John McCain was two-fold. No. 1, he said I really know Washington. Washington is really broken. John McCain is part of the problem. Trust me, we need this outsider with fresh ideas to come in and fix Washington.

And in some respects, he turned the charge against him that he's an insider to his advantage by saying as an insider he has better insight into what's broken. And I think he will continue to do that and push, there.

The other thing that was worth noting, I think, was how energetic Barack Obama was. After all, this choice is really about Barack Obama, he feels good about it, if the people second guess it, it doesn't matter, as long as he gets out on the campaign trail with more energy and vigor.

BLITZER: And I thought both of them were pretty disciplined in only speaking pour about 15 minutes each. Which is pretty good under these circumstances, especially, shall we say for Joe Biden, he likes to talk. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Absolutely, and I think Obama came in this event with two audiences, one are the people right here in this hall, and Democrats all around the country, who, look, it's a dead heat race right now. For all the energy you're seeing here, they have a little bit of jitters in the Democratic Party. Barack Obama wants to say, it's OK, we're going to be OK. I've got a fighter, we're going forward. His other audience in the country, if you have questions about me, kick the tire, look at this guy.

BLITZER: All right, let's take a break, but continue our coverage. We're going to get much more analysis, we have. Carl Bernstein, Amy Holmes, Ed Rollins, Roland Martin, Leslie Sanchez, stick around the best political team on television, getting ready to assess and move forward, where do we all go from here? We'll be right back.


BLITZER: All right, we're back here at the Democratic National Convention, the Pepsi Center in Denver. The action though, not here, but in Springfield, Illinois, where we just heard from Senator Barack Obama and Senator Joe Biden, the new Democratic presidential and vice presidential ticket.

Ed Rollins, as a good, solid, long-time Republican, you've watched. Give us your thoughts. What did you think?

ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Obama is a tremendous talent. I think his introduction was very passionate and a great introduction, put a lot of facts that a lot of people didn't know about his running mate.

You know, I think that Biden laid out the campaign that they want to run, which is to tie McCain as closely as possible to President Bush and made it about President Bush's third term. But, what was missing in both of their speeches is there really wasn't anything about them, where they want to take the country and I think sooner or later they have to do that. Obviously, today was an introduction, a good introduction, Obama, a much better speaker, obviously, than Biden. Biden has the great experience, though.

BLITZER: Carl Bernstein, did both of these candidates do what they need to do?

BERNSTEIN: They did for today, but they've got to get into specifics. They defined what McCain's problem is, very effectively, tying him to George Bush, but sooner or later the Democrats are going to have to come up and it's got to be at this convention, I suspect, with a very specific notion that people can comprehend about where they are on taxes, where they are on energy, where they are on welfare, where they are on the economy in very, very exact terms, capital gains, on down the line, how they're going to restore the middle class. You can't just run against John McCain and George Bush.

Republicans have abandoned George Bush. You know, it's getting redundant already. It's time for the Democrats to define themselves in terms of what the change is going to be. They've got two terrific, articulate people to define it, but I think they're going to have sto get around to it. They didn't do it yet today, but I think that Biden was positioned perfectly as both a hit man against the Republicans and against McCain and also with great credibility about what is wrong in Washington and that McCain is part of the problem from the way the Democrats see it of what's wrong in Washington.

But also, they know both of these guys, that the Democrats are part of the problem as well, and these two guys have got to position a new Democratic Party of which they're going to be the heads and tell what they're going to do to change the country in this terrible situation that they say we're in.

BLITZER: Amy Holmes, these speeches were very carefully drafted, the Obama speech, the Biden speech. As someone who used to write speeches up on Capitol Hill for Republicans, what did you think of these two speeches?

HOLMES: I, like Ed, thought it was interesting to hear that Barack Obama, he did not make those direct shots at John McCain and you can see through these two speeches, how this strategy is going, that you have sort of the high lofty road and then Joe Biden in there to get personal to talk about the George Bush/John McCain eight years. He said that repeatedly and I kept thinking, you know, poor Dick Cheney, he wants his enemies back. He was the vice president for the past eight years. But, I think we saw that strategy laid out very effectively.

But getting to Carl's point, you didn't hear the specifics. For example, Joe Biden said that we've had this disastrous energy policy, but low and behold he actually supports the unpopular position of opposing offshore drilling.

So, you know, Wolf, this is kind of like hearing opening arguments in a court case and at first, you know, you hear the first half of one attorney's team and it sounds so persuasive. Well, Republicans, they're going to come back and they're going to hit hard on many of these different things.

BLITZER: All right, Roland Martin, you listened about as carefully and closely as anyone to these two speeches. I know you have some thoughts.

MARTIN: Yeah, and that is, I mean, I understand what Carl and Amy has saying, but this is going to come down to the issue of values. If you listen to both speeches, especially Senator Joe Biden, he kept dealing with the issue of values. Talk about the Freudian slip with Obama, but also, Biden made a Freudian slip when he said "Barack America". He said "Barack America."

He kept talking about Obama growing up, single mother, being on food stamps, working hard, him going to school, his own background. What the Obama campaign has failed miserably, I think, since winning the nomination, they have not been able to lay out, this is who he is in terms of his values. That's where the Republicans have been so strong in nailing Obama, and that is patriotism, judgment. So, that's why you heard a lot of that, those family values and how our values are the same as yours.

BLITZER: I'm going to check in with Leslie Sanchez in a moment. Much more of our coverage on this important day in the race for the White House, right after this.


BLITZER: It's been a big day in the race for the White House. The Democrats have their ticket Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Leslie Sanchez, you watched, listened. What did you think?

SANCHEZ: I thought there was a really interesting line with Barack Obama. He said, we cannot accept more of the same, but then he picks the one kand dad who represents Washington insider more than any Republican or Democrat that ran for president this election cycle. It's really asking us to suspend our disbelief, and I don't believe people are inclined to do that. I mean, and I agree what they other commentators are saying about Republican response to this, it will be strong, it will be harsh.

Look at the fact there's the new Web site, Obama picks Biden, that's up right now that's going to talk about how basically he got this candidate through the primary. He lauded some of the most critical attacks, the harshest criticisms and with all due fairness, it's hard for people to believe this is a match made in heaven. It is going to be a difficult sell.

BLITZER: Gloria, it's going to be an intense two months or so, 70 days, until this November 4 election.

BORGER: Yeah and you know, it's going to be interesting now to see how John McCain or if John McCain counterprograms Joe Biden. Can John McCain now have a young pick, like a Tim Pawlenty, governor of Minnesota, sitting against Joe Biden going toe-to-toe on foreign policy in a vice presidential debate? Would he more likely to pick a Mitt Romney? And if he were to pick a Mitt Romney, didn't Mitt Romney say a few things about John McCain...

BLITZER: Pretty harsh things against John McCain.

BORGER: And vice versa?

BLITZER: All right guys, we're going to have a lot more coming up, 7:00 p.m. Eastern tonight, we have a special two-hour special. We're looking ahead on this important day. Tomorrow morning 10:00 a.m. Eastern I'll be right here for LATE EDITION, three hours of it, from the Denver convention. I'm Wolf Blitzer reporting. CNN NEWSROOM continues with special coverage, right now.