Warner launches first TV ad of re-election campaign

RICHMOND — Sen. Mark R. Warner launched the first TV ad of his re-election bid Tuesday, airing an entirely upbeat spot that portrays the former governor as an up-by-the-bootstraps entrepreneur and bipartisan deal-maker.

The 60-second commercial puts the freshman Democrat on the air statewide before Republicans have even chosen a candidate to challenge him. That happens June 7 at a nominating convention in Roanoke. Former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie is considered the front runner for the nod.

The ad opens with soft music and a shot of a 1960s Ford that Warner, now a multimillionaire, said he was “basically living out of” as he got his start in business. He recalls “sleeping on friends’ couches, trying to pay back my student loans” and watching his first two ventures fail before hitting it big with his third: the company that became telecommunications giant Nextel.

Titled “Working Together,” the ad goes on to describe how Warner reached across the aisle as governor to tackle a $6 billion state deficit and make the “largest investment in education in Virginia history.” Now as senator, the ad says, he is working to bring manufacturing and technology jobs back to the United States, lower student loans and cut the national debt.

The ad ends with Warner, in a buttoned-down shirt but tieless, speaking straight into the camera.

“I learned a long time ago, whether it’s running a business or leading a state, you make things happen when you put politics aside and work together,” he says.

Garren Shipley, spokesman for the Republican Party of Virginia, said the ad paints an inaccurate portrait of Warner.

“This ad is Mark Warner’s first effort to distance himself from his liberal record in Washington, like his vote for Obamacare,” Shipley said. “Neither a tour nor a slick TV ad can change the fact that Mark Warner voted with Barack Obama 97 percent of the time.

“That’s not ‘working together,’’ Shipley said. “That’s a rubber stamp.”

This report has been updated.

Laura Vozzella covers Virginia politics for The Washington Post.
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