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9:34 AM Tue, Dec. 11th

Biden choice draws mixed views along party lines

Biden

Biden

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's selection of Delaware Sen. Joe Biden as his running mate drew praise from local Democratic activists and criticism from Republicans Monday.

"Well, I think he is a very good choice, and certainly his experience and knowledge with foreign affairs will bring a lot to the (Democratic) ticket," said James Kimes, a Prescott Valley Democrat who ran unsuccessfully for the state House of Representatives in 2004.

Kimes said he thinks Biden will be "very tough" on Arizona Sen. John McCain, the Republican nominee. "He is not afraid to speak his mind."

However, Malcolm Barrett Jr., a Prescott resident who is active in the Yavapai County Republican Men's Forum, criticized Obama's selection.

"I expected him (Obama) to do that," said Barrett, a real estate salesman. "I find it ironic for (Obama) criticizing McCain for being a Washington insider and yet he picks a running mate who has the attributes that he has criticized McCain for."

Noting Delaware voters initially elected Biden, 65, to the Senate when he was only 29, Barrett commented, "He has known no other career but politics."

Ben Furlong, chairman of the Yavapai County Democratic Party; however, called McCain a political insider as well. Furlong is a retired school superintendent who at 76 has long been active in Democratic politics.

Darlene Packard, first vice chairwoman of the Yavapai County Republican Committee, said Biden is the third-most liberal member of the 100-member Senate, behind both Obama and Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts.

"It's pretty clear that the Democrats have a very liberal agenda," Packard said, declining to expand on her remark.

While supporting Obama's selection of a running mate, Kimes acknowledged Biden was not his first choice.

"I would have preferred Hillary (Clinton) as his running mate," said Kimes, who voted for the New York senator and former first lady during the Democratic primary. "I think she is quite specific on the issues. We do not need another four years of (President) Bush's failed policies, and that is what McCain would bring."

Barrett has a recommendation for McCain's pick as vice president: Mitt Romney, a former presidential candidate and past governor of Massachusetts.

"I think he (Romney) brings good business experience to the table," Barrett said.

Contact the reporter at khedler@prescottaz.com