Biden for Vice President

Robert Novak
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Posted: May 01, 2004 12:00 AM

 WASHINGTON -- Influential Democrats are urging Sen. John Kerry to consider Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, the party's principal voice on foreign policy, as his choice for vice president.
 
Picking the 61-year-old Biden would be reminiscent of George W. Bush's selection in 2000 of Dick Cheney, then 59. Biden, like Cheney, would be chosen for his qualifications to succeed to the presidency rather than for influencing electoral votes of a large swing state. As the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's top Democrat, he supported military action against Iraq and is less critical of President Bush than Kerry has been.

 Biden, who has served in the Senate for 31 years, considered running for president this year but decided against it. His bid for the Democratic nomination in 1988 was aborted when he was discovered delivering a speech lifted from a British politician.

SAVING SPECTER

 So many voters in Tuesday's Pennsylvania Republican primary volunteered that they voted for Sen. Arlen Specter because of endorsements by President Bush and conservative Sen. Rick Santorum that this backing probably prevented a substantial victory by conservative Rep. Pat Toomey.

 Specter's victory margin was less than two votes per precinct. Attendance at election night rallies indicated that enthusiasm was on the losing candidate's side. Toomey's headquarters in Fogelsville, Pa., was packed, while Specter's in Philadelphia was nearly empty.

 A footnote: Santorum met a cool reception Wednesday at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in Washington, which he addressed. A few people walked out when Santorum took the microphone, with some muttering about "Chairman Specter" (a reference to him becoming Senate Judiciary Committee chairman). Santorum's speech, urging a more fervent stand against abortion, did not mention the Pennsylvania election.

MILITARY VOTE

 The Pennsylvania Republican Senate primary's outcome will not be certified until May 17 because of a largely overlooked federal court decision extending the deadline for overseas voting in recognition of the Pentagon's faulty system for absentee ballots cast by military personnel in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere abroad.

 The U.S. District Court for Middle Pennsylvania on April 20 extended the voting deadline from the regular April 27 primary date to May 17. The 16,000-vote victory margin by Sen. Arlen Specter Tuesday over Rep. Pat Toomey made it unlikely that the military vote will affect the race's outcome. Nevertheless, White House lawyers are worried about delays in the 2004 presidential election returns unless the military voting system is fixed.

 Noting the Pennsylvania court decision, Republican Rep. Randy Forbes of Virginia this week introduced a resolution calling on the Defense Department to "expedite" military voting. The Pentagon's permanent bureaucracy has shown little interest in the problem.

KERRY ON CARS

 Sen. John Kerry, seeking voter support in Michigan Wednesday by boosting the state's automotive industry, antagonized foreign nameplate manufacturers in the swing state of Ohio.

 Interviewed by the Associated Press before he began his Michigan campaign swing, Kerry supported development of hybrid gas and electric vehicles and added: "I don't want Toyota and Honda to be the seller of these cars. I want the cars made in Michigan."

 That angered the American International Automobile Dealers. Foreign companies employ 65,000 automotive workers in the United States (including 24,000 by Honda and 17,000 by Toyota). Big foreign auto plants are located in Ohio at East Liberty and Marysville.

DECEPTIVE ADVERTISING

 Republicans are threatening legal action against an advertisement in the New York Times last week that is part of MoveOn.org's campaign to defeat George W. Bush for re-election.

 The full-page ad by MoveOn.org and the environmentalist Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) accused President Bush of putting America's children at risk by relaxing mercury standards. In fact, there are no current standards regulating mercury emissions.

 Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Environment Committee, is petitioning prosecutors in his home state of Oklahoma to bring criminal charges against MoveOn.org and the NRDC.