Warner Focuses on His Bipartisan Skills

The Associated Press
Thursday, October 5, 2006; 7:17 PM

TAMPA, Fla. -- Democrat Mark Warner figures his work with Republicans is a sure path to the possibility of securing his party's presidential nod.

"We have to really get it right and getting it right will require big enough change that it can't be a Democrat-only answer or a Republican-only answer." Warner says. "I think people ... even though they are hardcore Democratic activists, get that."

The former Virginia governor toured Florida, the perennial battleground state, on Wednesday and Thursday, raising money for his political action committee and other Democrats. Warner hasn't said whether he will seek the presidency in 2008, but he is considered a likely candidate.

He won in Republican-leaning Virginia with GOP support, which would set him apart in a crowded Democratic field.

His approval rating was in the mid-70s in a state that hasn't supported a Democratic presidential nominee since 1964. His lieutenant governor, Timothy M. Kaine, rode that popularity last year to replace Warner, who left because of the state's one-term limit.

As an introduction, Warner talks about how he convinced the Republican legislature to overhaul the state's tax system by increasing the sales tax by a half cent, raising cigarette taxes in a tobacco-friendly state and cutting other taxes to help lower-income residents.

The net effect was $1.4 billion in new revenue that turned a deficit into a surplus.

He said he hopes Democrats can work with Republican on reducing the federal deficit, alternative energy sources and competing in the global economy.

"We're all proud to be Americans, but I don't know many Americans, I don't care what party you are, who can look you in the eye and can say 'I'm proud of the destruction of our country,'" Warner said while flying from Tallahassee to Tampa.

His centrist approach worked with some Democrats.

Rep. Allen Boyd, D-Fla., told a crowd at a Tallahassee fundraiser, "I am being unequivocal about this: I am supporting Mark Warner for president."

In Tampa, Democratic Party fundraiser and former state party executive director Ana Cruz said, "He's got a middle-of-the-road, common sense election message for Americans, which is what they want. We'll see after this election cycle that it's not about partisan politics, it's about who can govern the best."

© 2006 The Associated Press