WASHINGTON, August 24 – The lengthy political career of Senator Joseph Biden, tapped by Barack Obama on Saturday to be his White House running mate, has been marked by wincing gaffes as well as knockout retorts.
The verbose chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is notorious for shooting from the lip, an approach that could help or hinder the Democrats as he joins the party’s ticket for the White House.
Here are some excerpts:
– On Obama: "I mean, you got the first mainstream African American (candidate) who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy."
Controversial remarks last year at the launch of Biden’s ill-fated quest for the Democratic nomination. Biden apologised and Obama said he took no offence.
– On Obama’s inexperience: "I think he can be ready, but right now I don’t believe he is. The presidency is not something that lends to on-the-job-training."
– "John McCain is a personal friend, a great friend, and I would be honored to run with or against John McCain, because I think the country would be better off."
These two statements made during the Democratic race for the nomination were used by the McCain campaign in an advertisement blasting Obama’s VP choice on Saturday morning just hours after it was announced that Biden was the running mate.
– "If the Democrats think we’re going to be able to nominate someone who can win without that person being able to table unimpeachable credentials on national security and foreign policy, I think we’re making a tragic mistake."
Statement attacking Obama during the Democratic primary campaign.
– "You cannot go to a 7-Eleven or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent."
Biden’s words on the Indian accents detectable in some employees in Biden’s state of Delaware in major US convenience store chain 7-Eleven and food giant Dunkin’ Donuts. The character of Apu, in the hit animated television series "The Simpsons," is a caricature of an Indian immigrant who runs a convenience store.
– "There’s only three things he mentions in a sentence: a noun, a verb and 9/11."
Biden’s devastating one-liner against Republican contender Rudolph Giuliani, the former mayor of New York at the time of the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001, whose own White House campaign fizzled.
The uncharacteristically short response to a Democratic debate moderator who asked: "An editorial in the Los Angeles Times said in addition to his uncontrolled verbosity, Biden is a gaffe machine. Can you reassure voters in this country you would have the discipline you need on the world stage?