Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama has chosen Delaware Sen. Joe Biden to be his running mate. A massive crowd gathered to watch as the Democratic presidential ticket launched a crucial phase of the campaign as it heads to Denver for this week’s nominating convention.

Obama called Biden “what others pretend to be — a statesman with sound judgment who doesn’t have to hide behind bluster to keep America strong.”

“Joe won’t just make a good vice president — he will make a great one,” Obama told thousands who flocked to Illinois’ Old State Capitol. “After decades of steady work across the aisle, I know he’ll be able to help me turn the page on the ugly partisanship in Washington.”

The announcement was at the same site where Obama began his presidential campaign on a cold day in February 2007 and where Abraham Lincoln launched his career as a revered political leader.

Biden, 65, is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He has four children, one of whom is deceased. In 1966, while in law school, Biden married Neilia Hunter. They had three children, Joseph R. “Beau” Biden III, Robert Hunter, and Naomi. His wife and infant daughter died in a car accident shortly after he was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972. His two young sons, Beau and Hunter, were seriously injured in the accident, but both eventually made full recoveries. In 1977, Biden married Jill Tracy Jacobs. They have one daughter, Ashley.

Obama and Biden will face off in the November 4 presidential election against Republican John McCain, who has not yet announced his choice for VP candidate.

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