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Mr. Congeniality

Biden gets two thumbs up from Georgia delegates

By Leigh E. Rich

DENVER—If the Democratic Party struggled in selecting a vice presidential candidate to complete the Barack Obama ticket, all they needed to do was ask Savannah City Councilwoman and Obama-pledged delegate Mary Osborne.

“Oh, I love him,” she said. “He was my choice all along.”

Osborne said she has met Biden many times while lobbying on Capitol Hill as a member of the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials.

“When you go to his office, it’s like sitting down at somebody’s kitchen table having a cup of coffee,” Osborne said. “He (just conveys) that relaxing and that at-home feeling. Just down to earth. He doesn’t talk at you. He talks with you.”

While President Bush secured the “he’d buy you a beer” title in the 2004 election that deemed U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., erudite and unapproachable, Biden—a Democrat from Delaware—is already being crowned Mr. Congeniality, armed with 30 years of Washington and international experience.

“I think he offers a perfect balance,” said Laverne Lewis Gaskins, of Valdosta.

But victory on Nov. 4 is not going to be easy—the Obama-Biden ticket faces several challenges in the coming months.

State Rep. Al Williams, D-Midway and another convention delegate, echoed what former President Carter told the Georgia and Alabama delegations Wednesday morning.

“We stand a real threat of letting Fox News decide who the next president is by continuing to divide us as Democrats,” Williams said. “I was in Miami in ‘72 and saw the party split. I was in New York and saw the party split. Every time we’ve split, we’ve lost. For whatever the reason, we’re headed there if we’re not careful.”

Unity among the Democrats—and beyond—is needed now more than ever, said convention delegate and state Rep. Lester Jackson III.

“Right now there is a lot of excitement and enthusiasm about this campaign,” Jackson said. “We just need all the Clinton supporters, Obama supporters and all the other independent supporters to become part of this unity of change and oneness.”

Osborne thinks the biggest challenge Obama and Biden will face is “fear-mongering” among the Republicans.

“And, of course, trying to steal our Democrats,” she said.

But when asked whether Georgia will go blue this November, the Georgia delegation has no doubt. Retired Lt. Col. Bill Gillespie, who’s running for U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston’s seat in Congress, says he’s inspired by the 40,000 new Democrats who have been registered in Georgia.

Moreover, Jackson added, the 2008 Democratic National Convention even feels different than the gathering in Boston four years ago.”

It is worlds apart,” he said, “the amount of enthusiasm here versus in Boston in 2004. We have a good ticket. President Carter touched on it this morning. President Carter talked about the history of politics in America since 1964 and how the South had started voting Republican and talked about division. And he spoke on what caused this separation.”

But now, Jackson said, “we’re going to come behind one great America for one great purpose, and that’s to bring back a positive image of our country, a positive image for our children. Because this election’s about only one thing: It is about the future of our children.”

Biden is the “right guy at the right time,” Jackson added. “He brings leadership. He brings 30 years of knowledge. And he brings to this campaign a life history of the struggles … and understanding of working-class Americans.”

That’s what makes the Democratic Party the “we party,” said Ed Sprole Jr., a delegate from Statesboro, who deems
Obama “a genuine guy. He’s really a family guy, just like the rest of us.”

Sprole said one of the best things about being a Democratic delegate is “being around people and a party that cares about the Democrats, it’s more of ‘we’—how can we as a country, together, improve things for everyone.

“We are the ‘we’ party, and the Republicans are the ‘me’ party.”

Rich, L. E. (2008, August 28). Biden gets two thumbs up from Georgia delegates. Savannah Morning News,

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