August 23rd, 2008
03:12 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama: 'I've found that leader'

Obama speaks in Springfield, Illinois.
Obama speaks in Springfield, Illinois.

(CNN) – Barack Obama formally announced Joe Biden as his running mate Saturday.

"I’ve searched for a leader to finish this journey alongside me, and to join in me in making Washington work for the American people. I searched for a leader who understands the rising costs confronting working people, and who will always put their dreams first," Obama said. "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 President."

"Today, I have come back to Springfield to tell you that I’ve found that leader – a man with a distinguished record and a fundamental decency – Joe Biden. "

Watch the event on CNN.com/Live!

Related: Obama introduces Biden as running mate

(Full Obama remarks after the jump)


Remarks of Senator Barack Obama—as prepared for delivery

Vice President Announcement

Springfield, Illinois

August 23, 2008

Nineteen months ago, on a cold February day right here on the steps of the Old State Capitol, I stood before you to announce my candidacy for President of the United States of America.

We started this journey with a simple belief: that 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 travelled to towns and cities, farms and factories, front porches and fairgrounds in almost all fifty states – that belief has been strengthened. Because at this defining moment in our history – with our nation at war, and 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 in me in making Washington work for the American people. I searched for a leader who understands the rising costs confronting working people, and who will 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 President.

Today, I have come back to Springfield to tell you that I’ve found that leader – a man with a distinguished record and a fundamental decency – Joe Biden.

Joe Biden is that rare mix – for decades, he has brought change to Washington, but Washington hasn’t changed him. He’s an expert on foreign policy whose heart and values are rooted firmly in the middle class. He has stared down dictators and spoken out for America's 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 standing next to me.

Joe Biden’s many triumphs have only come after great trial.

He was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania. His family didn’t have much money. Joe Sr. 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 Sr. 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 he had a terrible stutter. They called him “Bu-bu-Biden.” But he picked himself up, 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 5grandchildren. He instilled in them such a sense of public service that his son, Beau, who is now Delaware’s Attorney General, is getting ready to deploy to Iraq. And 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 standing next to me. That is the character of Joe Biden.

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 resilience – 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 odds. This working class kid from Scranton and Wilmington 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.

Fifteen years ago, too many American communities were plagued by violence and insecurity. So Joe Biden brought Democrats and Republicans 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 suffered abuse in the shadows. So Joe Biden wrote the Violence Against Women Act, so every woman would 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, he has been at the forefront of the fight for judges who respect the fundamental rights and liberties of the American people; college tuition that is 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 Slobodan 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 him to justice. He passed laws to lock down chemical weapons, and led 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 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.

Joe won’t just make a good Vice President – he will make a great one. 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 task energy task forces stacked with 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 been 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 Concord, and at the center of an international crisis.

That’s because he is 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 years to come.

That’s what it’s going to take to win the fight for good jobs that let people live their dreams, a tax code that rewards work instead of wealth, and health care that is affordable and accessible for every American family. That’s what it’s going to take to forge a new energy policy that frees us from our dependence on foreign oil and $4 gasoline at the pump, while creating new jobs and new industry. That’s what it’s going to take to put an end to a failed foreign policy that’s based on bluster and bad judgment, so that 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, and a disastrous foreign policy abroad. Four more years of the same divisive politics that is all about tearing people down instead of lifting this country up.

We can’t afford more of the same. I am running for President because that’s a future that I don’t accept for my daughters and I don’t accept it for your children. It’s time for the change that the American people need.

Now, with Joe Biden at my side, I am confident that 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’ll restore that fair shot at your dreams that is at the core of who Joe Biden and I are as people, and what America is as a nation. So let me introduce you to the next Vice President of the United States of America...


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soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. VOICE OF REASON

    BUT IF HE'S FOUND THAT LEADER WHO' GONNA BE VICE PRES. OBAMA CANT HOLD BIDENS COAT. SINCE HE SAID BIDEN HAD A DISTINGUISHED RECORD AND FUNDAMENTAL DECENCY IT MUST BE HIM. AFTER ALL OBAMA HAS NEITHER. BUT SEEMS LIKE THE VOTERS HAVE RULED BIDEN UNDESIRABLE FOR NOMINEE WHO'S HE CALLING DECENT.

    August 23, 2008 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  2. Greg

    they are both idiots

    August 23, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  3. pakuna

    obama is joking right? Biden voted to provide Social Security to illegal immigrants he voted for the North American Free Trade Agreement NAFTA he voted in favor of the invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq. WERE not these issues the reason he slammed Hillary. obama is a total disgrace to his country where he has citizenship and that is Kenya. Maybe we can deport him back there.

    August 23, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  4. Drew

    Yeah...that leader is more qualified than you, Hussein.

    August 23, 2008 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  5. Same Old, Same Old

    “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy". – Joe Biden

    Obama is an idiot. He will not be president.

    August 23, 2008 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  6. Dennis

    Obama apparently is giving us a preview of how he intends to operate should he become prsident. He has convinced me that he has no intention of listening to the American people. The majority of democrats said that they wanted Hillary Clinton, he knew this and ignored the people to put his own personal interest above that of the people, party and the country. He is a bad person, onw need only look at the conditions that his brother lives in to see how selfish he is

    August 23, 2008 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  7. Tennessee

    Because it could not be you!!!!!

    August 23, 2008 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  8. Pete Baston

    Should we call this Obama says Good Biden or the thud that was heard around the world as millions of furious ladies threw everything they had out the window when they heard about his safe old time liberal WHITE pol pick while at the same time Obama campaign gave the middle finger to American womanhood. This has Ted Kennedy's fingerprints all over it. absolutely stupid and makes a total oxymoron of " change you can believed in "

    Between Putin and Biden that has just about handed the election to McCain on a plate This sounds just like a rerun of Carter – Regan with the Russians and Chinese salivating over the prospect of dealing with a grinning cuddly do nothing Carter wimp

    At least Putin's humanity defying change is REAL

    August 23, 2008 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  9. Typical White Person

    "Above all, I searched for a leader who is ready to step in and be President."

    Too bad that wasn't the stated goal of the DNC...

    August 23, 2008 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  10. m

    Propaganda at its best.... Reminds me of Animal Farm by George Orwell! The republican machine is always trying to invoke fear into people!

    August 23, 2008 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  11. rexx

    Decency? Biden would kick his grandmother under the train for a shot to be president.Change? this is the ultiimate insider's insider Biden has been in Washington for over 30 years. Leave to Obama to pick someone who is just as elitist and arrogant as he is. But of course it didn't really matter did it? Obama is not going to win.

    August 23, 2008 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  12. Raymond Duke

    What an idiot. Picks the canidate that came in fourth for votes during the primaries. Maybe not though . I hear Biden catch match Obama nearly as being the most Liberal in the Senate and house. He claims he was worried about Hillarys baggage. Biden has more baggage than a frieght train can carry. So that excuse for Obama and the democrat leadership does not fly. I would say that Obama did not like a canidate that is more qualified and intelligent than he is . That is a big let down to a Muslim especially if it is a woman. Second Nancy Pelosi hated Hillary Clinton and was so jealous of her that she would destroy the democrat party before seeing Hillary go down in history and her becoming the nobody she already is.

    August 23, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |