Warner: I want to live my life

Former Virginia Governor Mark Warner today announced he would not run for president in 2008.  Warner, a Democrat, served one term as Virginia’s governor (that state’s constitution does not allow incumbent governors to seek re-election) and left office this past January.  Most of the stories written today about Warner’s decision called it a "surprise."  Despite his "I want to have a real life" announcement this morning in Richmond, Virginia, Warner arrived in Des Moines late this afternoon to be the keynote speaker at a party fundraiser.  He spoke with a few reporters before entering the reception.  Here is a transcript of that Q&A:

Reporter (Henderson):  You’ve decided you want to live your life?
Warner:  "Yea, I know there are a lot of folks in the political world scratching their head.  Things seemed to be going well and they were going well but I decided over the last few weeks and it came to a culmination.  I’d set Columbus Day week, in a personal timeline, to make this decision.  I was up seeing my dad for his 81st birthday and then starting to take my daughter to look for colleges and I just said ‘Hey, although it may be the right time politically, it’s not the right time for me in my life’ and it doesn’t mean that i’m still not interested in helping fix this country and being involved in the political process.  I hope this will show the folks that my affection for Iowa is not fleeting in terms of only showing up during the nominating process. I want to do what I can to continue to help a lot of the folks I’ve had a chance to meet here and the candidates who are running, so…"

Reporter (Glover): That obvious question.  You’re sticking to your schedule even though you’ve decided not to run.  What’s the rationale behind that?
Warner:  "The rationale is, you know, when I started Forward Together it was really two things, Mike. Part of it was leading down a path that would lead me to decision about whether I would seek the presidency.  The other was to raise resources and put out ideas on how the Democrats can take back the Congress and, I think, help get this country fixed so you know I was committed to this event.  I’m not going to not not fulfill that.  I’m going to be out campaigning for Jim Webb in my home state of Virginia on Monday.  I’ve got, I think, a trip planned to California next week.  This is really is the case where I’m not ruling out running for elective office again at some point in the future.  I sure as heck am not ruling out trying to be part of the debate in this country of how we get our country back on the right track and, you know, the best way I can demonstrate that is to continue to come out here and share with folks some ideas and it looks like there’s still a few folks turning up."

Reporter (Henderson):  You’ve told us why you got out of the race. Why did you get into politics in the first place?
Warner: "Well, I got in for a couple of reasons. I got in because I, and it sounds a little corny, but I feel like I got my own share of the American dream.  I feel like I got more than my share of fair shots in this country and I think the most quintessential thing about America is everybody in this country ought to get a fair shot. Now they can’t guarantee you success but you ought to get a fair shot and getting that fair shot ought to be more important than who your parents were or where you were born or what color your skin is and as a guy who, you know, came from a middle class family and went to a good public school, got a student loan, failed at almost everything I tried to do from business to politics the first time, you know, I got my share of fair shots and then I’ve been pretty blessed with some success and my sense of getting back involved in politics was being involved in politics and I’ve always had a little bit of an interest from being a kid on — was I got my fair shot and I want to make sure my three daughters grow up in a country where everybody still gets that kind of fair shot that I got."

Reporter (Glover):  One of the speculations is that you might run for John Warner’s seat?
Warner: "You know Mike, it’s, there’s no reason for me to take anything off the table at this point, but you know if the senate was my top priority I might have, there was a senate seat up this year in Virginia."

Reporter (Henderson):  So do you do this with any regrets?
Warner:  "This has been a remarkable journey.  I’ve made a lot of good friends around the country and I think the kind of response we were getting to this notion that our country at this point is going to have to take leadership that is more focused on fixing the country than on further polarizing it and that I think that Americans you know across the board are ready to step up and do their part if we’ve got leadership that would ask us to step up.  I’ve got no regrets at all and you know the best evidence of that is I’ve not made my decision not to seek the Democratic nomination for the presidency but I’m still here in Iowa trying to continue to have that conversation about where we go from here in our country."

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.