Utah delegates to the Democratic National Convention starting Monday in Denver are excited about presidential nominee Barack Obama picking Delaware Sen. Joe Biden as his vice presidential running mate.

But some are more excited than others.

Jenny Wilson, Salt Lake County councilwoman and a delegate pledged to New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, said Saturday that while Biden is a good, acceptable choice, "I would have preferred Hillary, and I'm disappointed she is not on the ticket."

At the very least, said Wilson, Obama should have "vetted" Clinton — put her through the formal interview/background check process one does for a seriously considered running mate. Obama never did that, although at one point he said that Clinton should be on any Democratic presidential nominee's short list.

And an Obama-Clinton ticket "would have really been the dream ticket so many have talked about — the best ticket," she said.

It is "unfortunate" that Obama apparently never really considered Clinton an option, Wilson said. "After such a close race" for the presidential nomination "not to see them working together. I don't know what it was — maybe he just couldn't see himself working closely with (former President) Bill (Clinton), or he couldn't work with her. But at the very least there should have been a conversation about the perimeters" of having a former president so closely involved in White House operations as the spouse of the vice president.

Obama "apparently could never come to terms with that possibility. But Biden is a good appointment. He brings experience we need with Obama's change, he can certainly work well with Congress. And now we move on."

But after a moment more of thought, Wilson added: "As a woman I shared the hope that when we came so close to nominating a woman for president, and now we won't have a woman on the ticket at all, well, it is disappointing."

Another Clinton delegate in the Utah delegation, Lisa Allcott, said she thinks the choice of Biden will not hurt Obama's chances among those who had supported Clinton. However, she added, "I don't think he (Obama) was ever seriously thinking about her. I don't think it was in the cards from the beginning."

She said about Biden, "I think he's a great choice. He will complement Obama well. Of course, he has foreign relations experience. As a Roman Catholic, he may bring in some (former Clinton supporters) to the ticket."

Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, applauded Obama's choice.

"Senator Biden brings a depth of experience to the job at a time when our country faces complicated issues like energy independence, record-setting deficits and a struggling economy," Matheson said in a prepared statement. "Sen. Biden knows the dangers facing us around the world and will put that knowledge to work to keep America safe."

Wayne Holland, chairman of the Utah delegation and of the Utah Democratic Party, said despite all the hype the last few days in the media about Obama's pick, "many of us kind of expected this — it appeared it was headed in this direction," because Biden complements Obama's strengths and weaknesses.

"This election looks like it will be about the economy and foreign affairs — and Joe Biden is a perfect match in that ticket," he said.

While Holland knows of no formal ties Biden may have to Utah, a number of Utahns went to Nevada for that state's presidential debate last year and were thoroughly impressed by Biden. "We did try to get him to come to Utah" for the Feb. 5 presidential primary, but Biden was winding down his presidential bid at that time and decided not to come here to campaign, Holland said.

Many other rank-and-file members of the Utah delegation to the convention were excited about the choice of Biden.

Millicent Lewis, an Obama delegate and artist, said, "I'm thrilled. I think he brings foreign policy experience. I think he's smart and tough, and he doesn't take guff from anybody. I think he's an excellent choice."

Kathleen Snyder, an Obama delegate who became involved because of her dislike for the war in Iraq — where her son, Army Capt. Brian Freeman, was killed two years ago — also praised the choice of Biden.

"I think he's a great asset to the ticket. One of the areas of concern that people had about Obama is foreign policy, and Sen. Biden complements that very well. He will be an asset to the ticket," she said.

Mary Lou Huffman, a retired teacher and delegate, said, "I'm very happy. He (Biden) is very sincere, very practical, and has all that foreign relations experience. I listen to C-SPAN (a cable TV channel that covers Congress) a lot, and I like everything he says."

Carlos Vasquez, a delegate who is also a labor union official, said, "I am pleasantly surprised by Sen. Obama's choice. Sen. Biden brings a lot of talent and experience."

State Rep. Phil Riesen, D-Salt Lake, an Obama delegate, said, "I believe Sen. Obama's selection reflects exactly what this Democratic ticket needs to win in November. Sen. Biden brings with him a wealth of international and foreign relations experience and the proven ability to help Sen. Obama govern the nation."


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