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Biden accepts nomination, hails Obama, rips McCain

DENVER (Reuters) - Veteran Sen. Joe Biden accepted the Democratic vice presidential nomination on Wednesday and hailed running mate Barack Obama as a wise leader who will take the United States in a new direction and out of the Iraq war.

“Since I’ve never been called a man of few words, let me say this simply as I can: Yes. Yes, I accept your nomination to run and serve with Barack Obama, the next president of the United States,” declared Biden, who’s been ridiculed for long-winded speeches during his 35 years in Congress.

Biden heaped praise on the 47-year-old, first-term senator, who will accept the party’s nomination as presidential candidate in a speech in Denver on Thursday, as an inspirational force.

“He has tapped into the oldest American belief of all. We don’t have to accept the situation we cannot bear. We have the power to change it,” said Biden, 65.

At the end of his remarks, Obama made a surprise appearance on stage to thunderous applause. He embraced Biden and said he was proud to have Biden, who ran unsuccessfully against him in the Democratic primaries, on his team.

Biden was formally nominated by acclamation. He and Obama will face Republican candidate John McCain, who has yet to announce his pick for No. 2, in the November 4 election.

With McCain moving even in the polls in recent days after weeks of Republican attacks on Obama, the normally affable Biden took on the role of political attack dog traditionally assigned to vice presidential candidates and tied McCain to unpopular President George W. Bush.

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Biden hit McCain for backing Bush on a host of fronts, including the president’s tax cuts for the rich, opposition to an increase in the minimum wage and unpopular Iraq war.

“Should we trust John McCain’s judgment when he says there can be no timelines to draw down our troops from Iraq. That we must stay indefinitely,” Biden said to cries of “No.”

“Or should we listen to Barack Obama who says shift responsibility to the Iraqis and set a time to bring our combat troops home?” Biden said as the crowd roared, “Yes.”

Noting that after six years the Bush White House and Iraqi government are moving toward setting a date for withdrawal, Biden roared, “John McCain was wrong. Barack Obama was right.”

In another swipe at McCain, a 71-year-old former Navy pilot and Vietnam war prisoner, Biden said, “These times require more than a good soldier. They need a wise leader, a leader who can deliver change, the change everybody knows we need.”

“Barack Obama will deliver that change,” said Biden, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with an internationally recognized expertise in global affairs.

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Obama’s selection of Biden for his running mate angered some Democrats, who had favored New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, who made a failed bid to become the first woman U.S. president.

Shortly before Biden spoke, Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, strongly endorsed Obama and praised his selection of Biden.

“In his first presidential decision, the selection of a running mate, he (Obama) hit it out of the park,” Clinton thundered.

McCain recently began airing an attack ad that features tough words by Biden against Obama during the campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.

In challenging Obama’s fitness for the presidency, Biden said last year, “I think he can be ready, but right now, I don’t believe he is.”

More recently, Biden has said Obama has learned much the past year in crisscrossing the country and traveling abroad, talking with American people and foreign figures.

Reporting by Tom Ferraro; Editing by David Wiessler