Obama would have fit right into the old neighborhood, Biden says

September 1, 2008

biden2.jpgSCRANTON, Pennsylvania – Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden told his boyhood companions that Barack Obama would have been one of their friends, if he had been around when they were growing up.

“This guy gets it,” Biden, 65, said of his 47-year-old running mate, who could become the first black U.S. president.

Biden made the comments on a campaign visit to his childhood home in Scranton, Pennsylvania, a blue collar city in a state central to his and Obama’s run for the White House. He described his old and predominately white neighborhood, known as Green Ridge, as a patriotic place where a person’s word was his bond and people stood up for what they believed in.

“I promise you. If Barack had been born here, he would have been our friend,” said Biden, a U.S. senator from Delaware since 1973. “He’d cover your back.”

Under blue skies and a bright sun, Biden sat in the shade of a big tree in his old backyard with his mother, Jean, 90, and scores of old friends and neighbors and supporters.  He quoted his late father, Joseph, a former car salesman, as saying, “the measure of success is not whether you get knocked down. It is how quickly you get up.”

Biden and his family moved from Scranton to Wilmington, Delaware, in 1953. He is affectionately referred to as “Pennsylvania’s third senator” for repeatedly helping out the state during 35 years in the U.S. Senate.

Among those who greeted Biden in Scranton was Jimmy Kennedy, 68, a friend since grade school.   “He was a scrappy kid and when he got knocked down he jumped right back up,” recalled Kennedy, who is now a judge.

“He was little and scrawny and people would ask when we played football iin the alley, ‘Why would you pick him?’ I told ’em,’ You’ll soon find out.’ He was the toughest kid out there.”

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

Photo credit: Reuters/Matt Sullivan

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The convention speech gave obama the chance of the second look.

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