OK, so I lied. Due to overwhelming requests, we’re gonna do one more, Mark Warner. This is the thirteenth entry in our series profiling Barack Obama’s most likely candidates for the vice presidential nomination. Now we’ve got an even baker’s dozen. You can view the rest of our profiles here. If you’ve got a choice that wasn’t profiled, send it in; if it looks good, we’ll post it. Since we’ve added this final profile, we’re going to postpone our final analysis until the weekend. Don’t forget to come join us next week as we make our way through the contenders for cabinet positions. And vote in our poll. It runs through June 4th.
Mark Warner is the former governor of Virginia. Virginia’s bizarre term limits (a candidate may not serve consecutive terms) forced him from office in 2006 when he was replaced by Democrat Tim Kaine. He remains overwhelmingly popular in his home state, and is currently on track to pick up the senate seat being vacated by Republican John Warner. He has the approval of 67% of Virginian voters according to a Washington Post poll from last October. During his tenure as governor, Mark Warner consistently improved his numbers. He came into office with a 62 percent approval rating (30 percent disapproval); by the time he left office, he polled at 75 percent approval with only 19 percent disapproval. As for his current numbers… well, I usually like to go with SUSA numbers, but Rasmussen is the only firm doing consistent polling on Virginia’s Senate race. In their polls, Warner has maintained a 15-20 point lead in the race for nearly a year. In short: Virginia is Warner country (um, Mark, not John).
According to stalwart political “journalist” Robert Novak, Warner has confided to friends that he’s being considered for the VP slot, but has made no mention of whether he’ll accept it. Given that two years ago, Warner was on the short list of candidates being eyed for a 2008 presidential run, which he ruled out in the fall of 2006 when he announced his Senate run, one has to believe that he has some aspiration for the highest office in the country. Actually, that could be probably be determined simply from the fact that he’s a politician. No one gets into this business because they don’t think they’d make a great president. The question is, which role does Warner believe is better suited to launch a presidential campaign? He’ll be forced to abdicate his Senate seat with four years left in his second term if he chooses to run following a (presumed) Obama administration. He’ll be forced to abdicate it with two years left in his first term in the unlikely event that Obama loses in the fall.
But let’s halt the baseless speculation and get down into the issues. There’s a reason Mark Warner is held in high esteem by the country’s most Democrat. He’s a consummate politician with a sterling record on many of the top progressive issues. He upholds a woman’s right to choose, and opposed the creation of a 24-hour waiting period for women seeking abortion (which I suppose was introduced because we all know how impulsively women come to the decision to terminate a pregnancy). As governor, he extended health care to an additional 138,000 Virginia children. He supports the death penalty, but has admitted to weaknesses in the system. He’s a firm believer in the use of DNA evidence for capital crimes, and worked to extend the 21 day limit for the introduction of new evidence following a trial to insure the integrity of the system. He passed a tax reform measure which cut income taxes for middle class voters. In a display of fiscal responsibility, he offset those cuts by raising tax on the upper income brackets, raising the tax on cigarettes, and raising the state sales tax by one percent (while simultaneously lowering the tax on food items by 1.5 percent). On Iraq, Warner voiced no original opinion that I can find, and he now currently straddles the fence, calling for “a responsible plan – without artificial timelines – to begin to bring our brave military men and women home.” He’s also stated that troop withdrawal should absolutely be on the table. So take from that what you will.
Just like Obama, Mark Warner has focused on broadening the electoral map saying, “We can’t win in just 16 blue states.” It is likely that Obama would find an excellent match in the former governor. Mark Warner has thus far run his Senate campaign on the themes of change and the creation of a post-partisan politics. He’s a strong public speaker, young enough (he’s 53) that he’d be an excellent candidate for president following an Obama administration, and with him on the ticket, I don’t see any way the Democrats lose Virginia in 2008. However, there is no candidate to take his place in his Senate run, and this is effectively Warner’s only weak point. Without Warner in that slot, the Democrats will have a much, much harder time securing that Senate seat. Frankly, we’ll probably lose that race. So, the real question with Mark Warner is: is he more valuable as a vice-president or as a senator?
Finally, it’s occurred to me in the course of writing these profiles that we can’t learn everything about a candidate from just reading about them, so let’s take a look at Warner on the stump (Ed note: I’m also going to return to our previous profiles and add stump speeches to candidates for whom I can locate them):