Barack Obama Reveals How He Popped the Question to Joe Biden

Barack Obama Reveals How He Popped the Question to Joe Biden
Sens. Barack Obama and Joseph Biden
Landov(2)

updated 08/25/2008 at 07:10 PM EDT

originally published 08/25/2008 08:00PM

Picture this: A photographer asks Democratic running mates Barack Obama and Joe Biden to squeeze together for a portrait. "We're kind of insecure," jokes Obama, while Biden counters, "I carry my wife's pocketbook – I'm fine." "Okay," declares Obama, posing for the camera, "get tight!"

When PEOPLE caught up with the candidates the day of their Aug. 23 announcement, the banter was easy between the onetime rivals – who became a team once Obama, 47, asked the senator from Delaware, 65, to help on the ticket. Also joining in the conversation: wives Michelle Obama, 44, and Jill Biden, 57.

This is the first mate you've chosen since Michelle.
Barack Obama: That's a good point.
Michelle Obama: Barack is looking for people who will challenge him, who will tell him no.
Barack: That's exactly what you need [in a vice-president].
Michelle: That's why he married me. (Laughs.) So I'd tell Sen. Biden, don't pull any punches.

Now, if Sen. Biden starts yelling at you about picking up your socks ...
Barack: Then we're in trouble. Don't do that, Joe.
Joe Biden: Don't worry.

How did you pop the question?
Barack: I called his office and they had to hunt him down. When I finally got him, he said he was at the dentist's office. I realized only later that he was being a doting husband, looking after Jill during a root canal.

How did Sen. Biden tell the family?
Jill Biden: My granddaughter, Maisy, turned 8 and we were having a little birthday party for her. We had just finished blowing out the candles and were cutting the cake. Joe said to everybody, 'Hey, I have something that I'd like to announce.' And he said, 'Barack called me and asked me to be vice-president.' Everybody – I get so emotional when I think about it – and everybody clapped and started hugging.
Joe: Every single birthday, all of our kids and grandkids – no matter where they are – they come home to our house. We have this big, old farm table [in the kitchen], and that's where we were. Maisy was totally unfazed. She said, 'Pop, can I have some more ice cream cake?'

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