Report from Denver: A Few Thoughts on Senator Biden

(Note: NAM’s Executive Vice President Jay Timmons is at the National Democratic Convention in Denver this week, and he’ll be blogging events, adding his insights as both a veteran of Senate and campaign politics and as a top representative of the U.S. manufacturing economy. The first installment follows):

Sen. Joe Biden was certainly an interesting pick for Sen. Obama. Right until the very last minute, many thought Obama would pick Hillary Clinton to shore up the remaining Democrats who supported her in the primary and who haven’t warmed to him. Polls right after the Biden selection suggest that a Clinton pick might have brought more unity to the Dem ticket – from one-quarter to one-third of Hillary backers are still saying they won’t support their party’s nominee.

But the Biden pick sends a message that targets another key constituency group – independent and undecided voters who like Obama, but who have been concerned his experience in foreign policy is rather light. Biden brings deep foreign policy credentials and is respected on both sides of the political aisle, and is well-known in foreign capitals. In fact, immediately after the Russia-Georgia conflict erupted, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Biden traveled to Georgia with an offer to assist.

A few years ago, my office was right across the hall from the Biden office. You get to know the real person when you see them all the time – especially when they are in a hurry to get to a vote or meeting. Joe Biden is the consummate gentleman. He never missed an opportunity to say hello, even though he knew I was a mere staffer in another office. On the floor of the Senate, he is certainly known for being loquacious, but he also has a reputation for being gracious and respectful of his colleagues.

The Biden record on manufacturing issues is not so rosy, unfortunately. Except for one vote in support of the NAM position on energy development (a very important vote to be sure) and another authorizing funding for highways, the Biden record in the last Congress on key manufacturing issues is dismal. Overall, in the last Congress (2005-2006), he only voted to support the NAM agenda 11% of the time.

But the NAM has always found him willing to listen. We hope that continues should he be elected Vice President in November.


Jay Timmons

Jay Timmons

Jay Timmons is president and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the largest manufacturing association in the United States representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector.
Jay Timmons

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