Paul  Weyrich

An interesting development in the 2008 Presidential race: Former Virginia Governor Mark R. Warner has taken himself out of the race. Guess what excuse he used? "I want to spend more time with my family."

I think we should issue an undated press release to every elected official in the United States of America saying, "I am not running for [fill in the blank] because I want to spend more time with my family." That way when they decide not to run, we will have the release. If the individual is, for example, in the House of Representatives and hoped to run for the Senate, but someone with big money has all but bought the election, the release would be ready.

To give Mark Warner his due, he does have three daughters, one a diabetic. So perhaps the family excuse might be valid in his case. But here is a reason it might not be. In the press conference in which he announced that he would not be a Presidential candidate, he left the door open for a run against Senator John W. Warner in 2008 or for Governor again. (Mark Warner ran very strongly against Senator Warner in 1996; however, Senator Warner was unopposed in 2002. Virginia is the last state which limits its governor to one consecutive four-year term. Mills E. Godwin, Jr. served one term as a Democrat, sat out a term, switched parties and returned as a Republican.)

So if Mark Warner, a co-founder of NEXTEL and a multihundred-millionaire, is so devoted to his family that he must spend more time with them, why would he consider another Senatorial or gubernatorial race? The question in my mind is this: Was Mark Warner pushed out or did he voluntarily quit?

We will probably never know the answer but we will have a big hint if Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton selects Warner as her running mate. It could just be that Hillary whispered in his ear, to the effect, why go through all of this when if I made you Vice President you would be around your family and you would not have to spend your fortune. Mark Warner was a decent Governor. He was the Governor who had a plan for solving Northern Virginia's traffic problems. But it got tied to a tax increase. That tax increase was shoved down the Governor's throat. In a referendum it lost decisively. The only other problem I had with Warner during his four years in office was his extreme position on Right to Life. The Republican-controlled Virginia General Assembly sent him a bill on life, including a ban on partial-birth abortion. He vetoed every life bill which came to his desk. That could mean that he understood that pro-life is potent in a general election and they surely would be out to defeat him.

Paul Weyrich

Paul M. Weyrich is the late Chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation.
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