Mondale offers advice to Bidenby Tom Scheck, Minnesota Public Radio
Delaware Senator Joe Biden is tonight's featured speaker at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. One of the few persons in the world with first hand experience in that role is former Vice President Walter Mondale.
Mondale said he intends to talk strategy with Biden in a phone call tomorrow.
Denver — Walter Mondale said his message to Joe Biden is simple. Biden should serve as a general adviser to Obama during the campaign, and if he is elected president. His other advice is to campaign in the states that matter and don't stop until election day.
"I will talk about how we campaigned. I campaigned for Jimmy Carter, and what I thought worked effectively," Mondale said.
Mondale said the political landscape of the 2008 election isn't that much different from when he first ran for vice president in 1976. He said Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan are critical swing states this year just as they were in 1976.
"I was in Ohio more than their county commissioners were, and we carried a lot of those states, and Joe Biden is perfectly positioned to do that, " explained Mondale.
Biden grew up in the working class town of Scranton, Penn. Since the economy is the top issue this election, the Obama campaign is hoping Biden's familiarity with working class people will help them in critical swing states. Biden reportedly takes his own trash to the dump and ranks on the bottom of the personal wealth scale among members of the Senate.
Delegate Valerie Coit of Wrenshall said that will play well with working class voters.
"I think people want to know that he's not in that elite category that we now identify so heavily with what with his seven homes and all," said Coit. "That makes a difference, just feeling that they have a better understanding of their lifestyles and how the average person lives in America."
Other members of the Minnesota delegation say Biden will bring vigor to the ticket. Yolanda Lehman of St. Cloud said Barack Obama picked someone who thinks independently.
"He brought somebody to the table who will sharpen him, who will challenge him, who will cause him to think in new and exciting ways," said Lehman. "I don't think it's always a good idea to surround yourself with yes man. I think they are going to be a great team."
Biden is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. It's likely that he will tout that experience when he addresses the delegates tonight. Sam Scott, of Andover, is an Iraq war veteran. He thinks Biden's credentials will strengthen the ticket.
"He brings a lot of things that may have been perceived as a weakness. He can help win for us. He does complement the ticket quite well, as far as foreign policy experience which is one of Obama's perceived weaknesses," said Scott.
While the Democrats have settled on a vice presidential candidate, Republican John McCain has still not announced his decision. One of those under consideration is Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who visited the Minnesota State Fair today. Pawlenty won't address the VP speculation, but he was more than happy to offer an opinion on Biden.
"We welcome Senator Biden to the race, but he largely reflects Senator Obama's voting record against domestic energy production, in favor of raising taxes, in favor of not holding education accountable for the outcomes and the like," said Pawlenty. "So we welcome Senator Biden to the race, but he's largely an echo chamber for Senator Obama on many positions."
Pawlenty is expected to continue that criticism of Biden and Obama when he makes a stop in Denver on Thursday. He said he's scheduled to be back in Minnesota on Friday and Saturday, which leads some in the media to wonder whether Pawlenty will be McCain's running mate. McCain is expected to announce his pick at a Friday morning rally in Dayton, Ohio.
- All Things Considered, 08/27/2008, 6:15 p.m.