AUGUSTA (AP) – Maine Gov. John Baldacci hailed Sen. Joe Biden as a ticket-helping talent Saturday who would serve well as a sounding board in a Barack Obama White House.

Baldacci, who originally supported Sen. Hillary Clinton for the Democratic presidential nomination but has since endorsed Obama, said Saturday that Biden’s background in international affairs make him a valuable addition to the Democratic team.

“I like him. I like his style,” said Baldacci, who heads to the Democratic National Convention in Denver on Sunday.

Baldacci called Biden “somebody who’s going to be able to give (Obama) good advice and counsel.”

As Republicans panned the selection, Maine GOP Chairman Mark Ellis issued a statement saying it “reflects concern even within Obama’s own campaign about whether he’s ready to be president.”

Ellis said that “Barack Obama’s politics of ‘change’ era is over now that he’s chosen longtime Washington insider Joe Biden as his running mate.”

Also heading to Denver this week is Democratic Senate hopeful Tom Allen.

Allen will be off the Maine campaign trail for a time, but he hopes to benefit from a speaking role at the convention Wednesday.

Maine’s six-term 1st District congressman is challenging Republican Sen. Susan Collins, who is running for a third term.

Though polls show Allen trailing Collins, Allen was handed a victory recently by the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to overturn a Maine court decision keeping an independent candidate off the ballot.

The independent, Herbert Hoffman, was thought to be a likely drain on Allen’s vote totals.

Collins is among a number of senators expected to skip the upcoming Republican National Convention in St. Paul.

Heading into the fall campaign, political party organizers are stressing grass roots in Maine.

Training sessions were being set up Saturday by Obama’s Campaign for Change to prepare Democratic volunteers for a statewide voter registration drive next weekend.

Republican volunteers also were called out Saturday.

Republican Party Chairman Mark Ellis said assignments involved working phone banks and going door-to-door to encourage residents to support Republican candidates on the ballot this November.

Ellis said phone banking was planned in Portland, Bangor, Lewiston and Augusta.

AP-ES-08-23-08 1309EDT

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