Off and Running!

updated 09/08/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/08/2008 AT 01:00 AM EDT

ONLY IN People

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

When PEOPLE caught up with the candidates on the day of their Aug. 23 announcement, there was easy banter between the pair, former rivals before Obama, 47, asked the senator from Delaware, 65, to join his ticket. Wives Michelle Obama, 44, and Jill Biden, 57, joined the fun.

This is the first mate you've chosen since Michelle.

That's a good point.

Barack is looking for people who will challenge him, who will tell him no.

That's exactly what you need [in a Vice President].

That's why he married me. [Laughs] So I'd tell Senator Biden, Don't pull any punches.

How did you pop the question?
I called his office, and they had to hunt him down. When I finally got him he says 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 Senator Biden tell the family?

My granddaughter Maisy turned 8, and we were having a little birthday party for her. We had just finished blowing out the candles, and 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." And everybody—I get so emotional when I think about it—clapped and started hugging.

You were a college freshman when your new boss was born. Do you feel old?

I'm not old. Hell, there's still 44 senators older than me [41 by PEOPLE's count].

Mrs. Biden, what should Senator Obama know about your husband's habits?

He's pretty much a night owl, so they have that in common. He's on that Blackberry and his phones constantly. I won't let him drive the car because everything's ringing. I say, "Pull over!" It's too dangerous. Or we go the wrong places. [Laughs]

You want people you can hang out with, that you trust, that you sit down and have a good conversation with, in addition to the advice, guidance and wisdom he brings. I think about it as a wife who's got to hang out with this crew, right?

For more of our interview with the Obamas and Bidens, go to PEOPLE.COM

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