Story by Chris Graham
I don’t know how radical someone proclaiming himself to be a centrist can possibly be.
Mark Warner is definitely trailblazin’ on a new path here.
“Come January of ’09, we’re going to have a new president, obviously. I hope that it’s a Democrat, but regardless, that new president is going to need people in the United States Senate who are going to be about trying to get things done. And my goal, if I can get hired for this position, is not just to go up there and be more one vote for the Democratic Party, but to go to the United States Senate and try to actually put together – and this will sound perhaps a little naive, but it’s what I hope to do – put together a group of eight, ten, twelve senators, bipartisan senators, that would try to create a new radical centrist bloc in the United States Senate.”
Warner, running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Republican moderate John Warner, who is retiring this year, used similar phrasing several other times in his talk with students and in a subsequent one-on-one interview with me.
“Radical centrist bloc.” “Radical centrist coalition.”
The notion is intriguing to me – given that Warner is very much running as a Democrat, had a brief fling with running for president this year, and is being talked about as a possible running mate for Barack Obama should the Illinois senator get the Democratic Party presidential nomination.
Oh, and given that Warner is himself a former state Democratic Party chair.
I guess what I’m saying here is that the guy’s Democrat roots run deep. So what is he doing going around telling anybody who will listen that he wants to be a radical centrist?
“My fear is that if we’re going to get our country fixed, there are a whole host of problems in this country that are so big, that are going to require such transformative change, that unless we can show to the American people that not only do we have the right ideas, but that there’s some level of across-party-lines support, I’m not sure we’re going to be able to make the change,” Warner said.
“This is driven by people who are saying, We’re tired of partisanship. We want to get things fixed. They know in their gut that we can do better than this. And I think it’s the wave that’s coming,” Warner told later in our one-on-one.
“My fear as a Democrat is, and I hope we have a Democratic president and Democratic House and increase the numbers in the Senate, but the worst thing for the Democrats, and more importantly for the country, would be, the Democrats got control of everything, and then came in with the same kind of arrogance that the Republicans had for the first six years of this administration,” Warner said.
“Payback should not be a national goal. It should be, How do we get our country fixed? And I think there’s a lot of this that can be driven by, How do you build those relations? I’m sure I can do that,” Warner said.