Biden and Obama’s ‘Odd Couple’ Relationship Aged Into Family Ties – The New York Times

The relationship between Mr. Obama and Mr. Biden, two men separated by temperament, upbringing, outlook and 19 years, did not get off to a strong start. Mr. Obama arrived in the Senate in 2005 the darling of Democrats, while Mr. Biden had been toiling away there since 1973, working his way through the ranks.

Mr. Obama was assigned to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee where Mr. Biden was chairman, but the newcomer found the panel frustrating and its leader maddeningly long-winded. At one hearing, while Mr. Biden pontificated at length, Mr. Obama passed a note to an aide: “Shoot. Me. Now.”

Soon enough, Mr. Obama escaped to the campaign trail, first stumping for other Democrats in the 2006 midterm elections and then for himself as 2008 approached. Mr. Biden, whose first run for the White House had blown up in a plagiarism scandal in 1988, jumped into the race, too. But he could hardly compete with Mr. Obama’s star power.

Nor could Mr. Biden discipline his own tongue, committing a gaffe on the very day he announced his campaign when he described Mr. Obama’s appeal. “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” Mr. Biden said.

When the comment blew up, Mr. Biden expressed regret and called Mr. Obama, who publicly let him off the hook. “I have no problem with Joe Biden,” he told reporters.

He had no problem with Joe Biden on the hustings, either, easily outpacing the older man among Democratic voters. As Mr. Obama handily won Iowa’s caucuses, Mr. Biden could not muster even 1 percent of the vote, forcing him to drop out.


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