Obama Chooses Joe Biden to be Campaign Running Mate


US DEMOCRATIC presidential candidate Barack Obama has named Delaware senator Joe Biden as his campaign running mate.

Democratic Party supporters told US television network CNN that Senator Biden had beaten a small field of contenders, including little-known Texas representative Chet Edwards, Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius and Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana.

Senator Obama made the decision before the Democratic National Convention, which starts in Denver on Monday local time.

Meanwhile, Senator Obama has criticised his Republican rival John McCain in an effort to blunt attacks that have narrowed his lead in the polls. Senator Obama chided Senator McCain for an interview in which he said he did not know how many homes he owned. Senator Obama branded the Republican as rich, out-of-touch with voters and touting inflated foreign policy credentials.

On the Republican side, party officials said Senator McCain had not settled on a running mate, although former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty were under serious consideration. Two officials close to Mr Romney said he had not been offered the job.

Senator McCain is expected to announce his choice after this week's Democratic convention and before the Republican convention in St Paul, Minnesota, which begins next Monday.

Officials said the campaign was also preparing for an "unconventional" nominee, an indication that oft-mentioned former Pennsylvania governor Tom Ridge, an abortion-rights supporter, or Connecticut Democrat-turned-independent Joe Lieberman still could be in the running. Non-politicians who Senator McCain deeply admires, such as General David Petraeus, the top US commander in Iraq, could also be considered.

The need for a careful selection for the vice-presidency for both candidates comes as Senator McCain has largely erased Senator Obama's lead in the polls.

To counter the perception that his campaign has stalled, Senator Obama has stepped up his attacks, even as some supporters worry whether someone who campaigned on themes of hope and change can be aggressive enough.

Senator Obama slammed Senator McCain for not being able to answer a question asked during an interview about how many homes he owns. Senator McCain's wife, Cindy, is an heiress to a large beer distributorship and her wealth is estimated to be at least $US100 million ($114.4 million).

"If you're like me, and you've got one house, or you are like the millions of people who are struggling right now to keep up with their mortgage so they don't lose their home, you might have a different perspective," Senator Obama said.