In response to a question from The Alexandria Times, former Gov. Mark Warner said Monday that he was more interested in running for Senate than becoming Barack Obamas vice presidential running mate. My real focus is my campaign for the United States Senate, he said. Im running for the Senate, thats my focus.
Warner has met with the Obama camp in recent weeks, fueling speculation that he might become his running mate. Asked if he would accept an invitation to run on the national ticket, Warner responded, I dont think Id be asked.
In recent days, speculation has intensified that the presumptive Democratic nominee for President might choose either Warner, Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) or Gov. Tim Kaine as a running mate.
Last Wednesday, influential conservative talk show host Bill OReilly of the Fox News Channel said he was putting his money on Warner, an Old Town resident, to become Obamas vice presidential pick. I think its going to be Warner in Virginia, OReilly predicted during a broadcast of The OReilly Factor.
If Obama does not tap Warner, then OReilly speculated that he would ask Jim Webb. Im going to go with a Virginia guy either Warner or Webb, OReilly said.
In 2005, Warner considered running for president in 2008, even raising about $9 million for his Old Town-based PAC, Forward Together, but in October, 2006 he bowed out, citing family reasons.
Warner, a moderate, fiscally-conservative Democrat, was uncommitted to any candidate during the presidential primaries, so his endorsement last Thursday gave Obama a boost in a state which no Democrat has captured in a presidential election in 44 years. On Tuesday, Obama won the necessary amount of delegates to capture the Democratic nomination, so his appearance in Virginia two days later was telling.
I think Sen. Obama is running very strong in Virginia, and I think he can win here, Warner said, speaking in a conference call with reporters to trumpet the key endorsement of two ranking state Republicans, Fairfax County Republican Vincent F. Callahan Jr., the former chairman of the Virginia House Appropriations Committee, and Senate Pro Tempore John Chichester.
Both Callahan and Chichester said that Gilmore, a former ally, misled legislators and the public about the states finances and the true cost of eliminating the car tax when he was governor from 1998 to 2002. We were out of money, Chichester recalled. Gov. Gilmore created a financial mess with a huge myth he fabricated about the car tax. Everyone who was around at that time was absolutely aware of those problems.
Callahan agreed. The projected revenues were erroneous and way off the mark, Callahan said. It was obvious to all of us that we could not do it with smoke and mirrors.
Meanwhile, Gilmore, the Republican nominee for Senate, kicked off the general election phase of his U.S. Senate campaign on Tuesday, calling his campaign a crusade for working families and calling Warner a hungry pariah. Specifically, he attacked Warner for raising taxes as governor. He broke his word to the people of Virginia, Gilmore said.
Last week, Warners office issued a statement commending Gilmore and announcing that he has contributed $2,000 toward his candidacy this month. But Warner added that he will defer taking an active role in political campaigns or the district and statewide Republican nominating conventions.