Warner In Hospital With Heart Problem

By Amy Gardner and Anita Kumar
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, October 3, 2007

U.S. Sen. John W. Warner was admitted to Inova Fairfax Hospital yesterday to correct an abnormal heartbeat, and he is expected to be home by the weekend and back at work next week, according to his Senate office.

Warner, 80, went to work yesterday but checked in with the Capitol physician's office midmorning, according to a statement released by his office. He left for the hospital in the afternoon for a procedure to correct atrial fibrillation, or an irregular heartbeat. He is scheduled to undergo a second procedure today.

"I think he just noticed something and felt that it needed attention," Warner's chief of staff, Carter Cornick, said from the hospital. "He was not in any visible pain at all."

Hospital staff would not comment.

Warner (R-Va.) appeared fine earlier in the day, according to U.S. Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.), who saw the senator at the Capitol. Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.) said Warner missed votes later in the day.

Just a month ago, Warner announced on the campus of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville that he would not seek a sixth term. The rigors of Senate service as he enters his 80s and the importance of letting the next generation of Senate leaders step up drove his choice, he said at the time.

Warner's departure triggered a round of political jockeying that could change the political landscape in Virginia and nationally. Already, popular former governor Mark R. Warner (D) has said he will seek the seat. Two Republicans, Davis and former governor James S. Gilmore III, are considering a bid as well.

If health problems prompt Warner to leave office sooner than 2009, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) would appoint a replacement.

John Warner's retirement announcement signaled the end of an era. His penchant for bipartisan collaboration earned him lasting friendships on both sides of the aisle in Washington.

Warner's exit will complete a remarkable personal passage for a man once derided by critics at the start of his Senate career as a shallow, social climbing dilettante.

But Warner mastered defense and national security issues, and officials praised his work on behalf of such transportation projects as the Woodrow Wilson Bridge replacement.

Staff writers Fredrick Kunkle and Michael D. Shear contributed to this report.

© 2007 The Washington Post Company