Rice praises Biden as "true patriot"

JERUSALEM Mon Aug 25, 2008 4:23pm EDT

1 of 4. Democratic vice presidential running mate Senator Joe Biden smiles after buying a pulled pork sandwich from Boney's Barbeque in Denver, Colorado, August 25, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Shannon Stapleton

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Monday praised Sen. Joe Biden, the newly named Democratic vice presidential candidate, as a statesman and a "true patriot."

"I am not going to comment on the politics of it. I will just say that Sen. Biden is obviously a very fine statesman," Rice told reporters as she flew to Israel for talks on Israeli-Palestinian peace. "He's a true patriot."

The warm words were unusual from Rice, who generally steers away from commenting on the U.S. presidential election pitting Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona against Democrat Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois.

Obama on Saturday announced Biden as his running mate, selecting the Delaware Democrat who serves as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and is an influential voice on U.S. national security policy.